Cars

The Greatest Car Japan Ever Made Is for Sale

Published On 08/13/2014 Published On 08/13/2014
Toyota 2000 GT
All Photos: Fabricio Jiminez ©2014 Courtesy of RM Auctions

Cars like the Nissan GT-R and Lexus LFA are incredible pieces of engineering capable of setting blistering times around a race track. Their technology and speed would have confounded all but the very brightest scientists in the world back in the 1960s. Still, they'll never hold a candle to the Toyota 2000 GT. It's the greatest car Japan ever made.

Those lines. Over the decades, many aficionados have likened the shape to the Jaguar E-Type, a car even Enzo Ferrari had to admit was the most beautiful ever made. Indeed, it was sexy enough to qualify for use as a Bond car in You Only Live Twice. Incredibly enough, the car was actually first drawn up by Yamaha, who pitched it to Nissan before finding a suitor in Toyota.

That engine. Yeah, 150 hp might not sound like a lot compared to some of the monstrous big block V8s on 1960s American highways, but this was pretty advanced compared to American cars of the time. Yamaha modified an existing Toyota straight six, converting it to a double overhead cam setup, which in layman's terms means it had a much improved torque curve that was perfectly suited to twisty Japanese mountain roads.

Much wood. Unlike so many cars that bear the GT moniker, the 2000 GT really is the consummate grand tourer. The only materials your hands come into contact with while you're driving are rich leather or the beautiful wood that comprises the steering wheel, dashboard, center console, and gearshift. If there were a hall of fame for luxurious-yet-sporty interiors, the 2000 GT gets the nod on the first ballot.

The handling. Of far greater importance to the car's legacy than the looks, the tech, or the comfort, the car's handling was truly world class in 1967. The fact that the car was barely heavier in the rear than the front no doubt helped to give it the kind of feel in the winding bits that you'd expect from something more like a Porsche 911—which incidentally, cost nearly 15 percent less at the time.

When it debuted, just about the only thing the car lacked was a rich sports car pedigree—which is, ironically, exactly what the 2000 GT helped establish at Toyota. That severely hampered sales, and ultimately just 351 units were ever sold.

Fun fact: this specific car, available at RM's Monterey auction, spent most of its life in Mozambique before being restored earlier this year by Akio Toyoda's old college roommate. Small world, huh?


Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor. Between this and the original Taurus SHO, he's now curious as to how many legendary cars Yamaha has played a key hand in.

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