Since its beginning Toyota has wrestled with the perception that it makes reliable, economical, but boring, cars.
That changed in 1967, as it chose to fight that battle head-on by developing and producing a halo car. Others had done it. Think Chevy’s Corvette, Ford’s GT, Nissan’s Z car, etc. So Toyota broke loose in ’67 with its sporty two-seat fastback, the 2000GT, developed in conjunction with Yamaha.
Wandering the Chicago Auto Show a few years ago I spotted the original 2000GT tucked in the back of Toyota’s massive sparkling new car display. In white, the 2000GT projected a simple beauty from a less complicated time. Its lines are sleek, sort of like Jaguar’s XKE, but there’s a boldness to this car, from its giant running lights just below its roll-away headlights to its sleek and well-proportioned hatch and massive taillights.
Made and sold only in Japan from 1967 to 1970, the 2000GT has become a collector’s car, now selling for more than $1 million. It helps that only 351 were ever built, a far cry from the millions of Corollas and Camrys that roll off assembly lines!
Ironically the fastback started out as a design project inside Yamaha, which then pitched the idea to Nissan first, where it was turned down. But when Yamaha approached Toyota, the staid automaker jumped at the opportunity and put its designer Satoru Nozaki on the job.
The result was an aluminum-bodied grand touring car with pop-up headlights just above big Plexiglas covered driving lights. There were just tiny bumpers and the car was exceptionally low at just 45.7 inches to the top of its roof. Remember, the Le Mans-winning GT40 at the time was just 40 inches high, so this wasn’t far off that.
The 2000GT’s engine was a straight-6 based on the Toyota Crown’s powerplant. At the time that was Toyota’s top-level sedan. Yamaha did some tweaks to boost power to 148 horsepower, not much by today’s standards, but racy enough at the time.
Most of the 2000GTs were sold in Japan and overseas, but reportedly 60 made it to the U.S. market, costing about $6,800, so more than other sports cars at the time. Again, rarity rates a higher entry fee.
One final bit of history, just two topless models were created, both for the 1967 James Bond film, You Only Live Twice. They truly were topless, just sporting a tonneau cover, with no working convertible top. Maybe Autoart will consider that for a future die-cast release.
There’s chrome trimming the black mesh grille, tiny rubber grille guards and more chrome around those massive running lights. Bumpers are simply little quart-moon roundlets on the front fenders from the lights to the front wheel well.
Mirrors are chrome and sit way out on the fenders and door handles look realistic in chrome too. Remember chrome door handles?
In back with the well-executed taillights are two chrome and rubber vertical bumpers. This was well before 5-mph bumper protection was mandated. Two chrome tailpipes are centered below the license plate too.
The straight-6 looks stellar with Toyota emblazoned on the headers and full electrical wiring and engine plumbing. There is a mass of hoses and wires under the forward-opening hood. While in back the hatch opens to reveal a carpeted cargo area.
On each side little compartment doors open too, these are just behind the front wheel wells. One holds the car’s battery.
Inside the 2000GT is a jungle of gauges on the massive console and center stack and all have detailed faces. The whole batch are surrounded by a dash that simulates the rosewood veneer used in the original version, plus a wood-grained steering wheel. There also are window cranks and chrome trim on the doors and black ribbed seats bucket seats.
Vital Stats: Toyota 2000GT (white)
Stock No.: 78753