The Petersen Automotive Museum Auction | Lot 238
1967 Toyota 2000GT
$511,000 USD | Sold
| Los Angeles, California
8 December 2018
- Matching-numbers example
- Finished in its original color combination
- Right-hand drive example originally delivered to Japan
- Includes spare wheel, knock-off tool, and hammer
- Featured in the Petersen’s exhibit “The Roots of Monozukuri”
Perhaps its impact was not fully understood until years after the event, but the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show was a paradigm shift in not just the Japanese automobile industry, but also the automotive industry as a whole. At the time, Japan was known for making inexpensive economy cars while Europe was making gorgeous, two-seater sports cars. The idea of a gorgeous, two-seater sports car designed and built in Japan was a completely foreign and strange idea to many enthusiasts. For Toyota to introduce such a car, dubbed the 2000GT, was a huge gamble, but it paid off and proved that Toyota could take the fight to the sports car establishment.
However, the 2000GT was not Toyota’s idea. Yamaha, known for its motorcycles at the time, had decided to design a sports car as its first venture into the automotive industry. After Yamaha had completed the initial designs, the 2000GT found its home with Toyota, which was, interestingly enough, Yamaha’s second choice for a manufacturer. Designed by Raymond Loewy, it was intended as a product for Nissan, who later decided not to take on the project. As a result, Yamaha brought the plans for the 2000GT before Toyota. Toyota, who had a reputation for producing rather conservatively designed cars, saw this new creation as an opportunity to prove that their engineers and designers could compete on the world stage.
Using the inline six-cylinder engine found in the Toyota Crown, Yamaha adopted it for use in a sports car by installing new double overhead camshafts, bringing total output to 150 hp. With a feather-light curb weight of just 2,400 lbs. and a 49/51 weight distribution, the 2000GT had the perfect makings for a wonderful driver’s car, and top speed was a very respectable 135 mph.
When production came to a close in 1970, just 351 examples had been built, far fewer than its competition. Priced at over $7,000 in 1967, for many potential customers, the cost of the 2000GT was difficult to justify when it was $1,000 more expensive than both the Jaguar E-Type and Porsche 911, and $2,500 more expensive than a Corvette. At the time, Toyota was well known in its home country but still establishing its reputation abroad, leaving the model unfamiliar to many American enthusiasts.
Delivered new to Japan, this 2000GT was completed on 27 November 1967, in right-hand drive for its home market, originally finished in its current shade of Pegasus White over a black leather interior. It was the 98th example of 233 Japanese-market 2000GTs produced. It has spent the majority of its life in its native Japan, where it was allegedly owned by the president of the Toyota 2000GT Club Japan. At some time, it was fitted with aftermarket air conditioning, an upgrade that was done to a number of 2000GTs by Toyota dealerships in period.
Imported to the U.S. in 2013 after leaving the ownership of a Mr. Fujita, the car is offered from the collection of its first American owner. The 2000GT has received a full service in which all of its fluids were changed. Since then, it has been sparingly driven and well preserved. As such, it remains in highly original condition today. The car retains an internal luggage strap bar and exterior left- and right-hand rearview mirrors. Most recently, the Toyota was displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum’s exhibit “The Roots of Monozukuri: Creative Spirit in Japanese Automaking,” where it was featured amongst an incredible collection of notable Japanese automobiles.
With a total of 351 examples produced, it is said that only 260 of those are believed extant. Furthermore, only 180 of the 233 Japanese-market examples are said to still be in existence, making this a very rare automobile indeed. While Toyota struggled to sell the 351 examples compared to the many thousand 911s, E-Types, and Corvettes, history has looked upon the 2000GT fondly, and today, it is one of the most coveted 1960s sports cars and one of the most desirable Japanese cars ever built.