- Toyota’s original sports car, the 2000GT, was the automaker’s first foray into the sports-car world.
- The 2000GT was built in limited numbers, and only 62 of them came to the United States—one of which will be auctioned by RM Sotheby’s in May.
- In previous auctions, 2000GTs have sold for upward of $500,000, with one in 2013 going for $1.2 million, so what this one will fetch is somewhat unpredictable.
In the decade back before the first Toyota Supra was built, the Japanese automaker created a smooth and svelte limited-run sports car: the 2000GT. The 2000GT was the automaker’s first foray into the world of performance, proof that Toyota, too, could build a sports car, and a good-looking one at that.
One of these rare cars is going up for auction the weekend of May 1–2 as part of the RM Sotheby’s Elkhart, Indiana, auction. This particular car is one of the 62 2000GTs originally sold in the United States with left-hand drive. Otto Linton, an American race-car driver, bought the car new and kept it for 30 years. The car, with chassis number MF10-10100 and body number 1090, was recently restored by the specialists at Maine Line Exotics, who painstakingly refinished it in its original color, blazing Solar Red.
In the 1960s, Japan was known for making cheap and sensible economy cars, none of which could compete with the likes of Jaguar, Porsche, and Corvette. The mere idea of a Japanese car company introducing something that could take on those manufacturers seemed laughable, but Yamaha and Toyota made it happen. Legendary designer Raymond Loewy originally intended to partner up with Nissan for a low-slung coupe but turned to Toyota when Nissan opted out of the project. The partnership resulted in a truly classic sports car, even if most of the world didn’t realize it.
Powered by an inline-six that produced 150 horsepower and mated to a five-speed manual transmission, the 2000GT was a hoot to drive thanks to its 2400-pound curb weight and 49/51 percent weight distribution. By today’s performance standards, it barely beats a modern-day Corolla from zero to 60 mph, with a time of 8.2 seconds.
The 2000GT was produced from 1967 to 1970, and over that time Toyota sold 351 units worldwide, 62 of which made it across the Pacific to U.S. shores. It’s surprising it wasn’t more widely sold, especially after a one-off convertible variant of the 2000GT appeared alongside Sean Connery in the 1967 James Bond movie You Only Live Twice.
Fifty years ago, the price for one of these cars was a smidge more than $7000. Today, these cars go for much, much more; in 2013, a 2000GT sold for $1.2 million at auction, making it the most expensive Asian car sold at auction at the time. Recently, a white Japan-market example sold for $511,000 through RM Sotheby’s, proving that, even if they may fall short of record prices, these cars continue to be true collector items. The Solar Red car that’s set to go up for auction in May doesn’t have any dollar signs next to it yet, so we can only speculate on how much it’s worth.