$1,045,000 USD | Sold
| Monterey, California
- Beautifully restored to original specifications
- One of just two 2000GTs delivered new to Mozambique
- “Toyota’s E-Type,” the greatest Japanese car of all time
150 bhp, 2,000 cc Yamaha aluminum DOHC hemi-head inline six-cylinder engine, triple Solex twin-choke side-draft carburetors, five-speed fully synchromesh manual transmission with overdrive, four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel power-assisted Dunlop disc brakes. Wheelbase: 91.7 in.
The mid-1960s was a great time to be in the market for a two-seater sports coupe. There were a number of fantastic cars available for purchase at either end of the market. From the small and affordable MGB GT Hatchback to Ford’s new Mustang to the incredible Ferrari 275 GTB, America, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain all had multiple models at different price points to enter into the fray. At the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, Japan introduced its first entry into this heated competition, the 2000GT.
This vehicle was originally convened by Yamaha, who was known at that time for producing motorcycles, and then it was marketed to Nissan as a world-beating sports car, but they decided not to take on the project. Yamaha pitched the car next to Toyota, which immediately saw the sports car as an opportunity to shed its reputation of producing rather conservatively designed automobiles. Many thought this to be a costly gamble for the company, but Toyota believed that the potential benefits would outweigh the costs, as it would allow the firm to compete with much more established and renowned companies.
The 2000GT was powered by an inline six-cylinder engine that was based on the one found in the Toyota Crown but was adopted by Yamaha with new double overhead camshafts. It could produce 150 horsepower, to move 2,400 pounds of car, which, along with its 49/51 weight distribution, resulted in an automobile that was light on its feet and handled like a dream. James Crowe, who tested the car for Road & Track magazine, praised it as being “highly refined in handling and driving, and one of the most exciting cars we have ever driven…an impressive car in which to sit or ride, or simply admire.”
In an article written by a Toyota designer in the fall 1967 issue of Automobile Quarterly, it is evident that much thought was given to the overall design language of the 2000GT. Many believed that the most striking aspect of the car was its exterior design. The long bonnet and short rear deck echoed Jaguar’s E-Type Coupe, yet it was distinctively Japanese at the same time.
As for the interior design, the Toyota designer believed that the interior should be as much about comfort as it was about fashion. “As a Grand Touring car, it should have the equipment and layout to respond to a high degree of driving skill. Unlike the usual concept of a sports car, which presupposes a certain amount of discomfort and austerity, it should possess an air of comfort and affluence. It should be the kind of car in which its owner can enjoy a leisurely drive in town or a fast zip through the countryside.”
By the time production had come to an end in 1970, only 351 examples had left the factory, far fewer than its main competitors. The 2000GT was priced at over $7,000 in 1967 and was considered by many to be an expensive proposition for a car they had never heard of. This was $1,000 more expensive than both the Jaguar E-Type and the Porsche 911 and over $2,500 more expensive than a Chevrolet Corvette, the car’s main competitors. For many buyers, especially in the United States, it was hard to justify spending that much money on a sports car that had an unproven reputation.
Even though the majority of right-hand-drive 2000GTs stayed in their home market of Japan, the Solar Red 1967 example offered here, chassis MF10-10128, is one of just two sold new to Mozambique. It was acquired and subsequently exported from Mozambique by Roger Holstead, a South African sports car enthusiast, in the late 1970s. Holstead owned three 2000GTs in total, including the other Mozambican 2000GT.
Holstead kept this particular car until 1986, when it was sold to 2000GT specialists Peter Starr and Robert Tkacik, of Maine Line Exotics in Biddleford, Maine. That same year, the car was purchased by Javier Quiros, who was the Toyota importer for Costa Rica, the fourth oldest Toyota distributorship worldwide. Quiros had the car shipped immediately to his native Costa Rica, where he frequently drove the car on spirited drives throughout the country on the weekends and on vintage rallies.
Starting in September 2013, this 2000GT was painstakingly fully restored to its original specifications by Restauraciones Clásicas, Costa Rica’s premier restoration facility, under the stewardship of its current owners and with assistance from Quiros. Originality was given paramount importance, and Quiros had unparalleled access to Toyota in order to restore his car to precise factory standards, as he had been Akio Toyota’s roommate and close friend while both of them were earning MBAs at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts! Through Toyota, he was introduced to the late Hiromu Naruse, who was both the chief engineer and test driver for Toyota and played an integral part in developing not only the 2000GT but also the Toyota 7, Celica, and Supra and the Lexus LFA. From consulting with Naruse, Quiros was able to ascertain even the most minute details in order to restore this 2000GT as accurately as possible.
Both the body and engine were removed from the chassis so they could be completely restored and brought back to as-new condition. The 2000GT then received a repaint in its original shade of Solar Red, as confirmed to be its correct and original color by Starr and Tkacik. After over 4,000 man-hours of labor, the restoration was completed in late May 2014, and the results simply speak for themselves. Following the completion of its restoration in June 2014, the car and its restoration were featured in a handful of publications, including one published by Toyota.
There is no question that the 2000GT holds a very important place in automotive history. Although it didn’t see instant success when new, it was clear that this Toyota made a huge impact far away from its home country and it put the established European and North American automotive manufacturers on notice. Following a complete and expensive restoration to original specifications, this 2000GT is in spectacular condition, and considering its fascinating history, this example would surely be a great conversation starter wherever it travels.