Toyota 2000GT

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Toyota 2000GT
TOYOTA 2000GT.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Toyota Motor Corporation and Yamaha Motor Corporation (joint project)
Production 1967–1970
351 produced
Designer Jiro Kawano (Shusa, product manager)
Satoru Nozaki (industrial designer)
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Body style 2-door fastback
Layout FMR layout
Powertrain
Engine 2.0 L 3M I6
2.3 L 2M I6 150hp[1]
Transmission 5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,330 mm (91.7 in)
Length 4,175 mm (164.4 in)
Width 1,600 mm (63.0 in)
Height 1,160 mm (45.7 in)
Curb weight 1,120 kg (2,469.2 lb)
Chronology
Predecessor Toyota Sports 800
Successor Toyota Celica, Toyota Supra, Toyota 86

The Toyota 2000GT is a limited-production, front-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-seat, hardtop coupé grand tourer designed by Toyota in collaboration with Yamaha. First displayed to the public at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1965, the 2000GT was manufactured under contract by Yamaha between 1967 and 1970. In Japan, it was exclusive to Toyota's Japanese retail sales channel called Toyota Store.

The 2000GT revolutionized the automotive world's view of Japan, then viewed as a producer of imitative and stodgily practical vehicles. As sleek, high-performance fastback, it demonstrated its auto makers could produce a sports car to rival the better marques of Europe. Reviewing a pre-production 2000GT in 1967, Road & Track magazine summed up the car as "one of the most exciting and enjoyable cars we've driven", and compared it favorably to the Porsche 911. Today, the 2000GT is seen as the first seriously collectible Japanese car and its first supercar. Examples of the 2000GT have sold at auction for as much as US $1,200,000.[2]

Background[edit]

Most of the 2000GT's design was done by Yamaha, which also did much automobile work for other Japanese manufacturers, originally for Nissan rather than Toyota. Many credit the German-American designer Albrecht Goertz, a protégé of Raymond Loewy who had previously worked with Nissan to create the Silvia, as inspiration. He had gone to work for Yamaha in Japan in the early 1960s to modernize Nissan's two-seater Fairlady sports car. A prototype 2000GT was built, but Nissan declined. Yamaha then proposed the design to Toyota, whom they also did contract work for, then perceived as the most conservative of the Japanese car manufacturers. Wishing to improve their image, Toyota accepted the proposal, but employed a design from their own designer Satoru Nozaki.[citation needed]

Styling[edit]

Toyota 2000GT from rear
Toyota 2000GT dashboard

The 2000GT design is widely considered a classic among 1960s gran turismos. Its smoothly flowing "coke bottle" bodywork was executed in aluminium and featured pop-up headlights above large plexiglass covered driving lamps flanking the grille similar to those on the Toyota Sports 800. Bumpers were minimal, and the car was extremely low, just 45.7 in (116 cm) to the highest point of the roof. In spite of a custom open-top version built for the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, a factory-produced convertible was never offered.

The interior offered comfortable, if cramped, accommodation and luxury touches such as a rosewood-veneer dashboard and auto-seeking radio tuner. Road & Track was impressed, considering the interior suited to a "luxurious GT" and calling the 2000GT an impressive car "in which to sit or ride - or simply admire."

In 1969, the front was modified slightly, making the driving lamps smaller and changing the shape of the turn signals. The rear turn signals were enlarged at the same time, and some alterations were made to modernise the interior. The last few vehicles were fitted with air conditioning and had automatic transmission as an option. These cars had an additional scoop fitted underneath the grille to supply air to the A/C unit.

Technical details[edit]

The 3M DOHC 2.0 liter inline six
The 2M SOHC 2.3 liter inline six

The engine was a longitudinally mounted 2.0 L (121 in³) straight-6 (the 3M) based on the engine in the top-of-the-line Toyota Crown sedan. It was transformed by Yamaha with a new double overhead camshaft head into a 112 kW (150 hp) sports car engine. Carburation was through three two-barrel Solex 40 PHH units. Nine special MF-12 models were also built with the larger but SOHC 2.3 L 2M engine. Fitted with a five-speed manual transmission, the rear wheel drive car was available with three different final drives. A 4.375 ratio axle car was said[by whom?] to be capable of reaching 135 mph (217 km/h) and achieve 7.59 L/100 km (31 mpg-US; 37 mpg-imp).[3]

Both a limited slip differential and all-round power-assisted disc brake, a first for a Japanese car, were standard. The dashboard mounted emergency brake gripped the rear discs directly.

Production[edit]

Only 351 regular production units of the 2000GT were built, figures comparable to contemporary elite Italian supercars. Taking two years for production vehicles to finally emerge, a total of 233 MF10s, 109 MF10Ls, and nine MF12Ls were built by Yamaha according to Toyota and Yamaha data. In America, the 2000GT sold for about $6,800, much more than contemporary Porsches and Jaguars. As "halo" cars, it is believed that no profit was made on the cars despite their high price. About 60 cars reached North America and the others were similarly thinly spread worldwide. Most 2000GTs were painted either red or white.

Racing[edit]

Toyota entered the 2000GT in competition at home, coming third in the 1966 Japanese Grand Prix and winning the Fuji 24-Hour Race in 1967. In addition, the car set several FIA world records for speed and endurance in a 72-hour test. Unfortunately, the record car was destroyed in a pace car accident and eventually scrapped. These records shortly prompted Porsche to prepare a 911R especially to beat this record.

Carroll Shelby also entered a pair of 2000GTs to compete in the 1968 SCCA production car races competing in the CP category. Initially Shelby built three cars, including one spare. Although performing well, it was the only season the car competed in the US. Toyota took back one of the cars and rebuilt it into a replica of their record car, which still resides in Japan. The two remaining Shelby cars remain in the United States.

2000GT Open-Top, the “Bond Model”[edit]

2000GT used in the James Bond film, You Only Live Twice

The 2000GT made its most famous screen appearance in the 1967 James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, most of which was filmed in Japan. Two one-off topless models - fitted only with tonnau covers to simulate functioning convertible roofs - were made specially for the film. It is claimed a targa had been considered to accommodate the burly 6' 2" Sean Connery. This retained the original car's fastback profile but eliminated rear side windows. Purportedly, Connery's head stuck out of the top and a roofless version was fabricated in just two weeks for the movie.[citation needed] The car was mainly driven by Bond girlfriend Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) in the film.[4]

Bond actor Daniel Craig voted the Toyota 2000GT as his favourite Bond car of all time.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Willson, Quentin (1995). The Ultimate Classic Car Book. DK Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-7894-0159-2. 
  2. ^ "Wheelies: The Lavishly Expensive Roadster Edition". NY Times Wheels blog. 2013-04-30. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  3. ^ Willson, Quentin (1995). The Ultimate Classic Car Book. DK Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-7894-0159-2. 
  4. ^ "You Only Live Twice- The James Bond International Fan Club". 007.info. 
  5. ^ "Toyota 2000GT is Bond’s favourite Bond car". Toyota GB Blog. Toyota GB. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 

Sources[edit]