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A red Toyota 2000GT sat in situe in a car garage with a concrete floor.


Toyota 2000GT: Japan's answer to the Jaguar E Type

Published Sun, Jun 26, 2022 11:00 AM

Japan is famous for producing some of the coolest cars ever made, but would they even exist if it wasn’t for the Toyota 2000GT?


Today Toyota is one of the world’s biggest automotive powerhouses producing over 10 million cars a year, which equates to one every three seconds or over 28,000 per day.

Back in 1918, Sakichi Toyoda created the world’s first automatic spinning loom and formed the Toyoda Spinning and Weaving Company. In 1930 during the war with China, the Japanese government encouraged Toyoda to investigate the production of automobiles, and Sakichi’s son, Kiichiro, was sent to Europe to investigate production methods.

In 1935 the Toyoda A1 passenger car and G1 pickup truck hit the roads, with the G1 being remarkably similar to the Dodge Powerwagon with numerous parts actually interchangeable between the two. But it would be another 2 years before the Toyota name as we know it would appear when the Toyota Motor Co was established in 1937, with the difference in the name being owed to it being transcribed in Katakana rather than the original Kanji. In Chinese-speaking markets, the brand is still referred to by the traditional Kanji name, but with Chinese pronunciation. It’s all incredibly confusing! 

During World War 2, thanks to the efforts of the Japanese to conquer the Pacific, Toyota was dedicated entirely to truck production and it wasn’t until the ’50s that the company would be saved from near bankruptcy, thanks to an order for 5,000 trucks by the US Military for the Korean war. 


By 1965 Toyota was becoming better known across the globe but still had something of an unadventurous and industrious look about them. Until that is, they debuted their new 2000GT at the Tokyo Motor Show, where it quite literally transformed the image of the manufacturer overnight and is now credited as being the first ever Japanese supercar. 

Most of the 2000GT's design was actually done by Yamaha who initially offered the design to Nissan. However, they very politely refused and so Yamaha proposed the design to Toyota who were at the time, perceived as the most conservative of the Japanese car manufacturers. Looking to improve their image, Toyota accepted the proposal but employed a design from their own designer, Satoru Nozaki. Many credit the original inspiration from Albrecht Goertz who was the designer of the Nissan 240Z, simply due to the number of similarities between the two iconic shapes. 

Between 1967 and ’71 the car was produced under licence by Yamaha and by the end of production, just 351 cars would be built. They were driven by a powerplant based on the Toyota Crown saloon, albeit transformed by Yamaha with a double overhead camshaft head and triple carburettors. Top speed was 135mph, with a 5-speed manual gearbox pushing power through a limited-slip diff to the rear wheels and a new rack and pinion steering system to ensure that all 148bhp and 148 lb/ft of torque were fully maximised on the road. 

Thanks to aluminium construction, the 2000GT weighs in at just over 1100kg and is definitely designed with the smaller driver in mind. The car was made famous in 1967 by its appearance in the Bond movie ‘You Only Live Twice’, where a convertible 2000GT was used by Sean Connery to escape from the baddies in Japan. Toyota never made a convertible version, and the two that were produced for the film only came about because Connery’s 6’2” frame couldn’t fit comfortably inside the normal 2000GT-so they had to chop the roof off! 

This particular featured car was built for the Australian market where it would live for 10 years before being returned to Japan. During its 9-year restoration which finished in 2015, a bullet hole was discovered in the driver’s door and after some digging, it seems that this belonged to a senior Yakuza (Japanese mafia) member, which makes it even cooler in our eyes than your regular 2000GT.


As you’d imagine, picking up a Toyota 2000GT was never easy due to the low volumes produced and it's even harder nowadays. If you are in the market for one and manage to find one for sale, you'll certainly be paying north of £1 million for it.


This 2000GT is a very special part of the JHW Classics Collection. It’s been owned by Jane Weitzmann since 2006 and is the only road-going example in the UK. Following arestoration to concours standards, it has been used by Toyota UK in numerous advertising campaigns, including that of the newest Supra. It’s available for TV and promotional work, as every car in the collection is, and if you’re interested in finding out more, you can contact Jane on her website www.jhwclassics.com  


Manufacturer: Toyota 
Model: 2000GT 
Powertrain: Front-mounted 2.0 Inline-6, 5-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel drive with LSD 
Construction: Aluminium body 
Weight: 1,120kg (dry) 
Power: 148bhp, 148 lb/ft torque 
Price: £1m upwards 
Exclusivity: 351 total built