Toyota 2000GT - You only live once

By: Mark Higgins, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

Toyota 2000GT Toyota 2000GT

A diamond in the rough

As rare as rocking horse poo and infinitely more desirable, the Japanese answer to 60s European GTs was the Toyota 2000GT.

However, at $6,000 a pop it was an unheard amount of money and an unacceptable price for a Japanese car for the American public, resulting in a meager 62 sales between 1967 and 1970.

Not even a starring role in James Bond’s 1967 film You Only Live Twice, in convertible form, could entice American buyers to part with six large for a 2000GT.

One of the original 62 sold recently, this one came from the collection of Sebring and Watkins Glen veteran Otto Linton.

Project 280A as it was known by Toyota’s inner sanctum was spearheaded by Toyota’s racing director Jiro Kawano and his small team of six, including stylist Satoru Nozaki.

Around the same time Yamaha was seeking to expand its horizons as a low-volume engine specialist and was working with Nissan on a 4-cylinder sports-car project called A550X.

When Nissan bailed on the deal, Yamaha shot over to arch-rival Toyota and offered them the A550X.

This suited Toyota to a tee as it would mean they avoided assembling the engines. From there a 2000GT prototype was created for the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, where it stunned the world.

The triple-carbed 150 horsepower engine was more Yamaha than Toyota. Toyota provided the iron block for the DOHC straight six while Yamaha produced the alloy Hemi head, forged pistons and hand built each engine. Connected to it was a Toyota truck gearbox, modified to a synchronized 5-speed matched to the engine’s 7000 rpm.

The hand-built 2000GT, which stood 45-inches high on a central beam chassis that was connected to a Y frame at each end, also sported Japans first attempt at a limited slip diff, and hanging off each end was independent double wishbone suspension and disc brakes, both firsts for Toyota.

Yamaha’s musical instrument offshoot chipped in with the rosewood dash and console, as well as its Mahogany steering wheel and gear lever.

After his successful racing career, Otto Linton became a Toyota dealer and immediately fell for the Toyota 2000GT when he saw it.

After Linton’s ownership, this pristine example passed through four successive owners before it arrived at Robert Tkacik and Peter Starr at Maine Line Exotics, who have owned or restored more than 50 U.S.-market 2000GTs since 1976.

Tkacik’s inspection confirmed the originality of the car finding no evidence of any alteration or accident repair.

Its original character and details were carefully preserved through its restoration in 2007, where it was stripped to bare-metal and refinished in its original color of Solar Red before achieving a sale price of AUD$983,000.

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more unique car reviews and features plus see the latest unique and classic cars for sale.

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine
- Print edition
- Digital edition