- Offered from a private collection
- One of 62 U.S.-delivery examples
- One of six 2000GTs originally finished in Bellatrix Yellow
- “The Japanese E-Type;” arguably the most significant modern Japanese car
The 2000GT’s story starts not with Toyota but with Yamaha, who decided to design a sports car after years of producing motorcycles. Yamaha first marketed its design to Nissan, who ended up not taking on the project, so the car was then marketed to Toyota, who saw this tiny little sports car as an opportunity to shed its reputation of producing rather conservatively designed automobiles. Some inside the company might have considered this move to be a gamble for a company who had never sold such an automobile, but it was clear that the 2000GT could give Toyota and Yamaha’s designers and engineers a chance to compete on the world stage.
The Toyota 2000GT is perhaps most aptly described as “the best sports car you’ve never heard of.” Developed in conjunction with Yamaha, this slinky two-passenger coupe packed a two-liter inline six-cylinder engine with a cast iron block and double overhead cams, good for 150 hp at 7,000 rpm and a top speed of over 135 mph. James Crowe, writing of the car in Road & Track, described it as “highly refined in handling and driving and one of the most exciting cars we have driven.” The luxurious interior fittings, including a rosewood veneer dashboard and a signal-seeking radio, were described as “up to par for a luxurious GT—an impressive car in which to sit or ride, or simply admire.”
The 2000GT was the Japanese E-Type, a car that could run against the best that Europe had to offer and, frankly, win, and it has been credited with establishing the Toyota name as a force to be reckoned with in the automotive world.
Unfortunately, the 2000GT has never achieved the same fame outside of Japan as its European brethren, in large part because only 351 were built and very few were exported outside of its home country. As its wonders have begun to achieve recognition in recent years, surviving examples have become highly sought after, and today, the 2000GT is universally described as the most collectible, desirable, and valuable Japanese automobile ever produced.
The example offered here is one of 62 original left-hand-drive versions produced, and one of six 2000GTs originally finished in what is arguably the most desirable factory color, Bellatrix Yellow, as documented in Shin Yoshikawa’s well-known book on the model. First shipped to the U.S., it was sold in 1983 by Bill Young to well-known Toyota dealer and 2000GT collector, Craig Zinn, who had it restored and enjoyed it as his everyday driver for several years.
In 2003 Mr. Zinn commissioned a fresh, show-quality restoration of the 2000GT by Steve Classen, in which it was returned to the original color scheme, had the engine and suspension overhauled, and was fitted with an upgraded electric brake booster and a completely custom-fabricated cooling system. The car was then sold to the current owner in 2008, and has now remained in his esteemed private collection for a decade.