The Toyota 2000GT Proved Japan Could Build a Sports Car
Japanese automakers had a reputation for building rather uninspired cars, but the 1967 Toyota 2000GT changed that impression for good. A high-performance car with a gorgeous fastback design, the 2000GT would become Japan's first supercar.
It was a limited-run, front-engined car with rear-wheel drive and seating for two passengers. The 2000GT made its debut at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show and was made under contract with Yamaha from 1967 through 1970. the design was done by Yamaha, which also did work for other automakers. They even offered the car to Nissan, but when they turned it down, Toyota decided to pick up the project.
The 2000GT was powered by a 2.0-liter straight-6 that was also found in the high-end Toyota Crown sedan. Yamaha gave it a new double overhead camshaft to produce 150 horsepower, and paired to a 5-speed manual transmission. Top speed was 135 mph and it was such a hit that a special topless version was built for the James Bond film, You Only Live Twice. Only 351 units of the 2000GT were made, similar to the numbers for Italian supercars at the time. It took two years for the production models to arrive with a price in the U.S. of $6,800, which was more than Porsches and Jaguars. Roughly 60 units made it to U.S. shores where they now sell at auction for as much as $1.2 million.