The 1967 Toyota 2000GT is often referred to as Japan’s first super-car. Now, it is officially also the world’s most expensive and highly collectible Japanese car. Thanks to RM Auctions…

The Toyota 2000GT is a limited-production, front-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-seat, hardtop coupé grand tourer designed by Toyota in collaboration with Yamaha. First displayed to the public at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1965, the 2000GT was manufactured under contract by Yamaha between 1967 and 1970. In Japan, it was exclusive to Toyota’s Japanese retail sales channel called Toyota Store. It revolutionized the automotive world’s view of Japan. The 2000GT demonstrated that Japanese auto manufacturers could produce a sports car to rival those of Europe, in contrast to Japan’s image at the time as a producer of imitative and stodgily practical vehicles. Reviewing a pre-production 2000GT in 1967, Road & Track magazine summed up the car as “one of the most exciting and enjoyable cars we’ve driven”, and compared it favourably to the Porsche 911. Today, the 2000GT is seen as the first seriously collectible Japanese car and the first “Japanese supercar”.

Back in 1967, the Toyota 2000GT was a feat of its time. Production was limited to approximately 351 units, 62 of which were made as left-hand-drive models. At the time, a five-speed transmission, 150 horsepower, dual overhead cam, and a top speed of 135mph weren’t features you’d shake a stick at either.

In light of the car’s extreme rarity, a model of the 2000GT was sold for $1.2  million dollars by Ontario-based RM Auctions — effectively earning it the title as the world’s most expensive car from an Asian brand. Note that only 351 (regular production cars) of the 2000GT were built, figures comparable to elite Italian supercar production of the day.

All were actually built by Yamaha; it took two years for production vehicles to emerge. In America, the 2000GT sold for about $6,800, much more than contemporary Porsches and Jaguars. It is believed that no profit was made on the cars despite their high price; they were more concept cars and a demonstration of ability than a true production vehicle. About 60 cars reached North America and the others were similarly thinly spread worldwide. Most 2000GTs were painted either red or white.

 

RememberThe 2000GT made its most famous screen appearance in the 1967 James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, most of which was filmed in Japan. Even though the car was never commercially available as a convertible, two were made specially for the film. However, they did not have roofs, just an upholstered hump at the rear of the cabin to simulate a folded top, and therefore were not fully functioning convertibles. Prior to the decision to make fully roofless cars, building the car as atarga was tried, allegedly due to Sean Connery’s height not allowing him to fit into the ultra-low coupé version. This retained the hatchback of the original car, but eliminated the rear side windows. However, when the Targa was completed, Connery’s head stuck out of the top to such an extent that it was decided it looked too ridiculous and that roofless versions would have to be made if the car was to be featured in the film. The car was mainly driven by his girlfriend Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) in the film.

 

Body style 2-door fastback
Layout FMR layout
Engine 2.0 L 3M I6
2.3 L 2M I6 150hp
Transmission 5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase 2,330 mm (91.7 in)
Length 4,175 mm (164.4 in)
Width 1,600 mm (63.0 in)
Height 1,160 mm (45.7 in)
Curb weight 1,120 kg (2,469.2 lb)