Toyota 2000GT – History of Japan’s First Supercar
When you think of Japanese sports cars these days, you may think of the Mazda RX-7, Subaru WRX, Nissan Skyline, or the Mitsubishi Lancer. But long before these cars were made popular by films such as the Fast and Furious series, the Toyota 2000GT was unleashed upon the world – marking the introduction of Japan’s first true supercar.
Debuting in 1965, the Toyota 2000GT was unlike anything that had ever been seen from the land of the rising sun. With its front-engine, rear-wheel drive, two seats, and hard top, the sleek coupé grand tourer proved to the world that Japan could compete with the best Europe had to offer, and revolutionised the world of Japanese sports cars for years to come.
A Toyota almost fit for Bond
Although the Toyota 2000GT made a splash in the world of sports cars when it was initially released, it wasn’t until 2 years later when it became world famous. Starring in his fifth film as the legendary British spy, James Bond, Sean Connery could be forgiven for expecting to drive yet another Aston Martin. But in 1967’s “You Only Live Twice”, the Toyota 2000GT stole the screen, and was forever etched into Bond’s cinematic history.
Despite a limited release of only 351, two Toyota 2000GTs were supplied for the movie – minus the roof. Rumour has it that the cars were initially modified as Targas, to accommodate Sean Connery’s considerable height. After seeing how high Connery’s head rose above the top of the car, changes were made to imitate a convertible, creating a more natural look when he was behind the wheel.
If you haven’t seen the film, here’s a nice clip of the Toyota 2000GT in action:
Shelby’s modified Toyotas
While James Bond was undoubtedly the most famous driver of the Toyota 2000GT, three of the iconic Japanese sports cars made their way into the hands of another legend – American automotive designer, entrepreneur, and racing driver Carroll Shelby – namesake for the mighty Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.
The chassis number of one was MF10-100001 – the first ever Toyota 2000GT
In a bid to be competitive in the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) production car races, Shelby stripped away all unnecessary parts from two of the Toyotas, swapped out their tyres, boosted the engine capacity, and replaced the suspension before entering them both in the CP category.
The two modified 2000GTs only competed in the one season in 1968, but were highly competitive – beaten only by a Porsche 911 to finish in second and third place. Both cars remained in the US after the season, with one of them selling at auction recently for $1.7 million. What is truly remarkable about these three cars, is that the chassis number of one was MF10-100001 – the first ever Toyota 2000GT.
The 2000GT’s incredible endurance
In a bid to show off its enhanced levels of performance, the Toyota 2000GT was entered into many high profile races in its formative years. The epitome of its racing experience came in 1966, at the highly demanding Speed Trials at the Yatabe High Speed Testing Course.
After 72 gruelling hours, the green and yellow Toyota averaged 128.76mph on the oval circuit, in turn demolishing three world records and setting thirteen international records for endurance and speed. Suffice to say, the Toyota 2000GT was now seen as a force to be reckoned with.
The Toyota 2000GT was Japan’s first true supercar, and is widely considered the most collectable Japanese car of all time. Produced under licence from Toyota Motor Corporation, DeAgostini ModelSpace is proud to offer a 1:10 replica of this remarkable limited-production coupé. With a faithfully reproduced exterior, interior, chassis, suspension and engine, our scale model Toyota 2000GT is an excellent addition to any car enthusiast’s collection.