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Feature: Toyota 2000GT – the first Japanese sports car ever produced

Toyota 2000GT – a rare car with a special story. We present you today the Toyota 2000GT Targa version, a sports car that came from Japan and was supposed  to appear in the company of James Bond. Its  story comes in the following lines.

Toyota 2000GT

Toyota 2000GT

Toyota 2000GT was launched in 1965 at the Tokyo Auto Show, one of the first true sports car produced in Japan. It took almost two years before the model was introduced for mass production. Praised by the media specialists of that time and being compared with Porsche 911 in terms of dynamics, Toyota 2000GT directly entered in the history books. It was a model produced in very limited numbers, an element that’s making it extremely valuable today. Only 351 copies were produced, all manufactured in collaboration with Yamaha between 1967 and 1970.

Toyota 2000GT Design

Toyota 2000GT Coupe

Toyota 2000GT Coupe

The design of this model broke all the conceptions, of how a sports car should look,  from the 60s in Japan. Fluid, rounded, a car of a disarming simplicity, the design of the Toyota 2000GT model was a revolution for Toyota. When the model arrived in the UK,it  was immediately compared with Jaguar E-Type, the fluid forms being similar for both legendary cars.

It’s hard to say who is the author of the design lines of Toyota 2000GT. Albrecht Goertz, who created models like BMW or Datsun 507 Z, is credited for the design of the Toyota model.

The Japanese company assigns the merit of a young Japanese designer: Satoru Nozaki.

Toyota 2000GT Engine

The heart of the model is, as its name evokes, a 2.0-liter six-cylinder that develops 150 hp.

This engine will be used by many models made by Toyota for 30 years. Three Solex carburetors assured the fuel needed to bring to life this classic propeller.

Toyota 2000GT Engine

Toyota 2000GT 2.0-liter six-cylinder inline engine developing 150 hp

Toyota 2000GT Interior

Elegant, simple, with reddish wood inlays. This is how it could be described the inside of this rare car. Two large dials are placed in front of the driver, on them being displayed the number of rotations and the speed. Other five small dials are located at the top of the center console for a vintage, but elegant look.

Toyota 2000GT Interior

Simple interior with elegant wood inlays

Toyota 2000GT Targa & Convertible 

The most interesting part of the story is given by the two very rare versions of Toyota 2000GT model. Toyota has been contacted by the filmmakers of  “You Only Live Twice”, to provide two models that had to appear in the film. “You Only Live Twice” was one of the movies with James Bond, and Sean Connery would give life to the famous 007 secret agent.

Toyota 2000GT Targa

Toyota 2000GT Targa

Toyota initially hesitated for nearly two weeks to act on this invitation. When they accepted, they realized that 2000GT Coupe model will be a little tight for Sean Connery’s height: 1.88 meters (6.2 feet). To solve the problem, the Japanese engineers immediately began to develop a Targa version for Toyota 2000GT.

With only two weeks to do so, it was impossible, but Toyota has used an emergency solution. Two stock coupes were quickly cut to make a convertible version. This was used in filming the production “You Only Live Twice”, which is, paradoxically, the one and only James Bond movie where 007 doesn’t drive: Bond appears in the Toyota only as a passenger. The filmmakers were confronted with a problem. The actress Akiko Wakabayashi,the  interpreter of Aki, couldn’t drive, so the car was handled in the movie scenes by two test pilots from Toyota.

Like any car made for James Bond, in the movie, 2000GT was equipped with specific gadgets. Among them – one mini TV, video cameras behind the license plate, communication and audio systems. Toyota 2000GT appears for a total of six minutes in the movie from 1967, despite the fact that initially were filmed more scenes that were removed during the montage.

James Bond and Toyota 2000GT Convertible

James Bond and Toyota 2000GT Convertible

The 2000GT Targa version remained at the project stage until 1984. A car passionate, named Ed Pessin from Culver City, California, hired the Richard Billings company from Los Angeles to build a single copy of the model from the original drawings by Toyota. This unique car was sold at auction by RM Auctions in October 2010.

Toyota 2000GT SHELBY

Toyota 2000GT SHELBY

Toyota 2000GT SHELBY

One less known fact is a detail related to Carroll Shelby. The American loved this model and prepared three copies to compete according to the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) rules. 1968 was the only season in which two Toyota 2000GT Shelby competed in United States.

Toyota 2000GT EV

Toyota 2000GT EV

Toyota 2000GT EV

A more recent project involved converting a copy of Toyota 2000GT into an electric powered car. At the beggining of the last year it came the news that a Japanese company called Crazy Cars Project, turned a Toyota 2000GT into an electric powered car. To modify such a rarely model is an act at the edge of blasphemy, but also bold enough to arouse the enthusiasts curiosity. The engineers replaced the 2.0 liter six-cylinder heat engine with an electric motor that develops 161 hp. A 35 kWh battery system provides the necessary electricity. The bonnet and the rear window were covered with photovoltaic cells that are helping with the recharge of the batteries.

Toyota 2000GT via car-addicts.com

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