The 2000GT made its debut at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show. However it took another 2 years before it went on sale. It is suggested that the origin of the car was a design carried out by freelance US/German designer Albrecht Goertz, who had designed the BMW 507 and later had a hand in the Datsun 240Z. Although built by Yamaha, Goertz had originally penned the car for Nissan, but they turned it down - probably because its sophistication and cost were too high for the production and marketing plans they were making. Yamaha then turned to Toyota, who decided to put the car into production.
Raymond Loewy of Yamaha was responsible for the design. The product was originally intended for Nissan but the company decided not to implement the design. The design was proposed to Toyota who accepted the design. The vehicle is visually similar to the Jaguar E-Type. Light was provided by driving lamps and pop-up lights. To protect the exposed driving lamps, a Plexiglas cover were installed. There were bumpers on the car though they provided little in the way of protection. The body is comprised of aluminum and located under the hood was a potent six-cylinder engine in 2 or 2.3 liter size.
During its short production lifespan only 337 were produced. The final versions featured air-conditioning and some were given an additional scoop located underneath the grille which helped provided air to the AC unit.
Inspired to design a sports car that would rival those in Europe, Japanese designers unveiled the Toyota 2000 GT at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1965 and went on sale during the spring of 1967. Produced in Tokyo Japan, production vehicles were built between 1967 and 1970 in very limited numbers.
The Toyota 2000 GT is considered the first ’Japanese Supercar’ as it revolutionized the way Japanese car manufacturers were viewed in regards to their skill. In the production of this car, Toyota proved to the world that Japan had a lucrative future in the auto industry.
During the 1960’s the Japanese were known for building family cars, or economy sedans modeled after English and French versions, but most definitely not for their sports or GT cars. After the postwar period, it was the Germans and Italians that designed the more exotic GT cars, and the British with the sports car market.
This is why it came as such a startling surprise when the 2000 GT was produced by the most conservative of Japanese Auto makers. Today, many collectors consider the 2000 GT as the first highly collectable Japanese car. Perceived as the most conservative of Japanese auto makers, much of the work on 2000 GT was done by Yamaha.
The 2000 GT had pop-up headlights and large driving lamps on both sides of the grille that were eventually modified to smaller design in 1969. Air conditioning and an additional scoop were later modified to newer versions, as well as larger rear turn signals. An extremely low car, at just 45.7 in (116 cm) at the roof, the bodywork was smoothly flowing and executed in aluminum. With a 2,329-mm wheelbase and a length of 4,176 mm, the two-seater 2000 GT had a slight hint of the Jaguar E-type as well as being very technologically advanced.
The engine was a 2.0 L inline-6 based on the engine the top-of-the-line Toyota Crown sedan. It was transformed by Yamaha with new double overhead camshaft heads into a 150 hp sports car engine. Carburetion was through three two-barrel Solex 40 PHH units. Nine special MF-12 models were also built with the larger 2.3 L 2M engine. The car was available with three different final drives; optioned with the 4.375 ratio version, the car was said to be capable of reaching 135 mph.
The engine was mounted longitudinally and drove the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission. A limited slip differential was fitted, and in a first for a Japanese car, all-round power-assisted disc brakes. The atypical emergency brake gripped the rear disc directly.
The interior offered comfortable, if cramped, accommodation and luxury touches like a rosewood-veneer dashboard and an auto-seeking radio tuner. At the time, Road & Track felt that the interior was up to par for a "luxurious GT", calling it an impressive car "in which to sit or ride - or simply admire."
Movie and TV appearances
- Two 2000GTs were remodeled to convertibles and featured in the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice.
- On Sailor Moon, Haruka Tenoh (Sailor Uranus) drives a yellow 1968 convertible model (in spite of the fact that a 2000GT convertible was never commercially available).
- 2000GT’s made appearances in the TV series The Ugliest Girl in Town and Hawaii 5-0.
Only 337 of the 2000GT were built. All were actually built by Yamaha; it took two years for production vehicles to emerge. In America, the 2000GT sold for about $6,800, much more than contemporary Porsches and Jaguars. It is believed that no profit was made on the cars despite their high price; they were more concept cars and a demonstration of ability than a true production vehicle. About 60 cars reached North America and the others were similarly thinly spread worldwide.