Toyota 2000GT

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Toyota 2000GT (MF10)
TOYOTA 2000GT.jpg
1967–1969 Toyota 2000GT
Overview
ManufacturerToyota Motor Corporation and Yamaha Motor Corporation (joint project)
Production1967–1970 (351 produced)
AssemblyYamaha Motors Iwata, Shizuoka, Japan
Designer
Body and chassis
ClassSports car/grand tourer
Body style
LayoutFront mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Powertrain
Engine
Power output
  • 150 PS (148 hp; 110 kW) (2.0 L)
  • 140 PS (138 hp; 103 kW) (2.3 L)
Transmission
Dimensions
Wheelbase2,330 mm (91.7 in)[2]
Length4,175 mm (164.4 in)[2]
Width1,600 mm (63.0 in)[2]
Height
  • 1,104 mm (43.5 in) (roadster)[3]
  • 1,160 mm (45.7 in)[2]
  • 1,170 mm (46.1 in) (1969–1970)[3]
Curb weight1,120 kg (2,469 lb)[2]

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. A halo car for the automaker, 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 a 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.[4]

Background[edit]

Automobile ownership in Japan during the late 1950's and early 1960's began to pickup, and Toyota noticed that most international manufacturers had a top level sports car or grand touring coupe, that would draw customers into showrooms and dealerships and drive sales of other more affordable models. Ford had recently introduced the Thunderbird, while GM's Chevrolet Division had the Corvette. In Europe, Mercedes-Benz had the 300SL, BMW briefly offered the 507, Porsche had the 356, Jaguar had the E-Type, Aston Martin had the DB4, Ferrari had the 250 GT Coupé, and Maserati had the 3500 GT. In Japan, Nissan offered the Datsun Sports, while Honda introduced the S500 and Prince offered the Skyline Sport Coupé. Toyota had already began production of the Sports 800, but the engine was far too small to be considered a world class sports car, and decided they needed to offer a proper 6-cylinder coupe.

Most of the 2000GT's design was done by motorcycle manufacturer Yamaha, who also contributed contract assistance for other Japanese manufacturers, including Nissan. In 1959, Yamaha established the Technical Research Institute to develop their own sports car, and had built the YX30 sports car with a 4-cylinder engine displacing 1600cc, having drawn inspiration from the British MGA B-Series 1600 DOHC engine.[5][6] Due to various problems, Yamaha senior management decided to close the research facility in 1962, but enthusiasm of developing a sports car led to them partnering with an established auto manufacturer. A prototype called the "A550X" was built, but Nissan cancelled the project and introduced the slow selling Nissan Silvia coupe in 1965.[7][8] Yamaha then proposed the design to Toyota, for whom they also did contract work, 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.[9][10]

Styling[edit]

Toyota 2000GT from rear

The 2000GT incorporated many classic 1960s gran turismo design elements. Nozaki's styling was inspired by the E-type Jaguar.[11] Its smoothly flowing 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 116 cm (45.7 in) to the highest point of the roof. Despite a custom open-top version built for the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, a factory-produced convertible was never offered.

Toyota 2000GT dashboard

The interior offered comfortable, if cramped, accommodation and luxury touches such as a walnut or rosewood veneer dashboard inlays provided by Yamaha's musical instrument woodworking facilities, and an auto-signal 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."

Facelift model of Toyota 2000GT

In August 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.

Drivetrain[edit]

The 3M DOHC 2.0 liter inline six was the 2000GT's main engine
Only nine special models were fitted with the larger but less powerful 2M SOHC 2.3 liter inline six

The engine was a longitudinally mounted 1,988 cc (2.0 L; 121.3 cu in) straight-6 (the 3M) based on the engine in the top-of-the-line Toyota Crown sedan. It was transformed by Yamaha into a sports car engine by coupling three 2-barrel Mikuni-Solex 40 PHH carburetors[12][13] to a new DOHC head that produced 150 PS (148 bhp; 110 kW) at 6,600 rpm and 175 N⋅m (129 lb⋅ft) at 5,000 rpm.

Nine special MF-12 models were also built with the larger but lower output SOHC 2.3 L 2M-B engine, which produced 140 PS (138 bhp; 103 kW) at 5,800 rpm and 201 N⋅m (148 lb⋅ft) at 3,800 rpm of torque.

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 claimed to be capable of reaching 135 mph (217 km/h) and achieve 7.59 L/100 km (31 mpg‑US; 37 mpg‑imp).[14]

Both a limited slip differential and all-round power-assisted disc brake, a first for a Japanese car, were standard. The suspension was coil springs attached to double wishbones at all four wheels. It was also the first Toyota to offer rack and pinion steering as Toyota wanted to establish that this was a world class sports car. The dashboard mounted emergency brake gripped the rear discs directly should the primary braking system fail.

Production[edit]

Only 351 regular production units of the 2000GT were built, figures comparable to contemporary elite Italian supercars.The first prototype was built August 1965, only 11 months after the project had begun. Taking two years for production vehicles to finally emerge, a total of 233 MF10s, 109 MF10Ls, and nine MF12Ls were built at the Yamaha factory in Iwata, Shizuoka according to Toyota and Yamaha data starting in May 1967 until August of 1970. In America, the 2000GT sold for about $6,800, much more than contemporary Porsches and Jaguars. In terms of sales, Toyota didn't sell very many which led to the cancellation in 1970, while it did inspire the company to introduce performance oriented "sporty" coupes that followed in the 1970s.

As a “halo car” for Toyota, it is believed that no profit was made on the 2000GT despite its high price. About 60 units reached North America and the others were similarly thinly spread worldwide. Most 2000GTs were painted either Solar Red or Pegasus White, while other colors were offered such as Thunder Silver metallic, Bellatrix Yellow, Atlantis Green, and Twilight Turquoise metallic.

Yamaha and Toyota also collaborated on another more affordable production car, again using a Toyota engine block while Yamaha developed the DOHC cylinder head, and introduced the Toyota 1600GT, using a 1967 Corona 2-door hardtop coupe. When production of the 2000GT ended, and Toyota had established a reputation of making performance oriented cars, the Celica was exclusively introduced at Toyota Corolla Store locations as the top model, again offering a 2.0L DOHC engine with a manual transmission but more affordably priced. Toyota also introduced sport coupes at each of their sales distribution networks, using the same technology in a 2-door coupe with an OHC 4-cylinder engine and a fun-to-drive approach to each car. May 1967 was also the same time the Mazda Cosmo was also introduced.

Lessons learned by Toyota and Yamaha led to the development of the Toyota 7, which was designed primarily for use in FIA Group 7 competition. It was Toyota's first purpose-built racing car.

Racing[edit]

Toyota entered the 2000GT in competition at home, coming third in the 1966 Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji. The 2000GT took its first win in the inaugural Suzuka 1000 Kilometres in 1966, and went on to win the 24 Hours of Fuji and the Fuji 1000 Kilometres in 1967. In addition, the car set thirteen FIA world records for speed and endurance in a 72-hour test at the Yatabe High Speed Test Track in 1966. 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 in the CP category. Initially Shelby built three cars, including one spare. Although it performed 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 tonneau 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 less than two weeks for the movie.[15] The car was only driven by "Bond girl" Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) in the film.[16]

Bond actor Daniel Craig voted the 2000GT as his favourite Bond car of all time.[17] Using the 2000GT in the Bond Film was a very successful example of product placement, after the world had just watched the 1964 Summer Olympics televised live by satellite and in color from Tokyo. Audiences wondered who built the car that raced through the streets of Tokyo, and once it was learned it was built by Toyota, visits to local dealerships increased, hoping to get a look at the car in person. The movie had its world premiere in London 12 June 1967, and the car had only been introduced less than a month earlier in May. The director of the film Lewis Gilbert had originally intended to use another all-new car that had just been introduced, the Chevrolet Camaro, but his friend Yukio "Sachio" Fukuzawa, a Japanese race car driver and under contract to race Toyotas, convinced Lewis that a Japanese car should be used for a film taking place in Japan.

References[edit]

Most of the content of this article was sourced by translating the corresponding article on Japanese Wikipedia. Some of the citations are in Japanese, having been transposed from the Japanese Wikipedia article.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Willson, Quentin (1995). The Ultimate Classic Car Book. DK Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-7894-0159-2.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Toyota 2000GT MF10". Toyota. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  3. ^ a b "2000GT". Toyota Automobile Museum. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  4. ^ "Wheelies: The Lavishly Expensive Roadster Edition". NY Times Wheels blog. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  5. ^ "Days Gone By, Days spent with cars". Yamaha Motor Company. Yamaha Motor Company Ltd. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  6. ^ いつの日も遠く 第二章 四輪自動車の日々
  7. ^ 「A~X」と言う呼称は日産自動車のもので、後世にも「YX」で始まるヤマハ側の開発コードは見られない。A550Xも2000GTも、共通しているのはリトラクタブルヘッドランプを持つファストバッククーペということのみで、車体構造的には全く異なる。エンジンも、A550Xはヤマハ発動機が米国の航空機メーカーから特許を購入して開発したタイスエンジン(全溶接製ブロックを持つDOHC4気筒エンジン)をヤマハ発動機が独自に改良したYX80型を搭載していたのに対して、2000GTはクラウンのM型(SOHC 6気筒)にトヨタとヤマハ発動機が共同開発したDOHCヘッドを組み合わせた3M型を搭載しており、全く相違していた。
  8. ^ "You Can Not Get There From Here". Internet Z-Car Club. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  9. ^ Branch, Jon (21 January 2019). "A Brief History of the Toyota 2000GT - Everything You Need To Know". Silodrome. US. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  10. ^ Ernst, Kurt (20 August 2015). "Stereotype shatterer: Toyota's first U.S. market 200". Hemmings Daily. US. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  11. ^ Vance, Brian; Markus, Frank (6 September 2005). "Head to head: 1969 Toyota 2000GT vs. 1965 Jaguar E-Type". Motor Trend. US. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  12. ^ "1968 Toyota 2000 GT MF10". carfolio.com. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  13. ^ "1967 -1970 Toyota 2000 GT specifications". ultimatecarpage.com. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  14. ^ Willson, Quentin (1995). The Ultimate Classic Car Book. DK Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-7894-0159-2.
  15. ^ Carlsson, Mårten (19 November 2019). "Toyotas filmbil". Klassiker (in Swedish). Sweden. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  16. ^ "You Only Live Twice- The James Bond International Fan Club". 007.info.
  17. ^ "Toyota 2000GT is Bond's favourite Bond car". Toyota GB Blog. Toyota GB. Retrieved 11 February 2015.

Sources[edit]