Toyota 2000GT

Red-hot heritage: The Toyota 2000GT. Image: Toyota

Toyota goes back to the future to revive rare 2000GT sports car

Toyota tips its cap to a rich automotive heritage by introducing a parts replacement project to resurrect its iconic 2000GT sports cars.

Toyota 2000GT

Red-hot heritage: The Toyota 2000GT. Image: Toyota

Toyota has just reopened the doors to arguably one of the world’s most exclusive automotive clubs – owners of the rare and legendary Toyota 2000 GT.

The famous 2000GT — of which, according to Toyota, only 351 units were ever made — was not only a record-breaking beauty, but notably Toyota’s very first “supercar”.

2000GT GR Heritage Parts Project

And now the Japanese automaker, in an announcement made last week, said plans were in place to reproduce and sell replacement parts through an initiative named the 2000GT GR Heritage Parts Project.

The good news for South Africans, if only a handful, is that the replacement parts will be made available domestically.

‘James Bond exclusive club’

The historic model, which also joins another exclusive club — cars which have featured prominently in a James Bond film — debuted in 1967, with production of the eye-catching vehicle coming to an end just three years later in 1970.

Image: RM Sotheby’s

In its statement on the initiative, Toyota annouced that Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) would be reproducing the replacement parts for the Toyota 2000GT as part of the GR Heritage Parts Project, with these parts to be sold both domestically and abroad.

Toyota SA: Rebuilding its very own 2000GT

While Toyota SA revealed in its release that the company was in the process of rebuilding its very own 2000GT, there is evidence that at least three of the limited production models were in South African hands at one point in time.    

Image: Petersen Automotive Museum

Toyota said the project was directed at reproducing key replacement parts that were no longer available, and sell them as genuine parts to customers who aspire to continue driving their “cherished cars filled with their memories”.

“Previously, in May 2019, an announcement was made to reproduce and sell replacement parts for A70 and A80 Supra models at the GR Supra press conference, and the Toyota 2000GT will be the next model following on from this,” continued the automaker.

Blast from the past

In its modest description of the legendary vehicle, Toyota said the 2000GT was a sports car launched in 1967 through collaboration with Yamaha Motor Co Ltd.

Image: Petersen Automotive Museum

“Until production ended in 1970, 351 units were manufactured.

“It adopted the latest Japanese technology, including a 2.0-litre DOHC straight six engine, four-wheel double-wishbone suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, radial tires, magnesium alloy wheels, and retractable headlamps, while boasting a maximum speed of 220km/h — on a par with European sports cars of the day.”

World records despite ‘approaching typhoon’

Toyota said the model had taken part in speed trials prior to its launch and, despite “inclement conditions with an approaching typhoon”, it had set a string of new records, including three world records.

Contributing to its growing status was that the sports car had also enjoyed a successful run of wins and high placements in various races. It was also used in scenes shot in Japan for the James Bond film, You Only Live Twice, with Sean Connery.

Rumour has it that Sean Connery was too tall to comfortably fit in the Toyota 2000GT for the Bond movie ‘You Only Live Twice’ and filming of the interior shots proved tricky.  As a result, Toyota created two 2000GT roadsters, to ensure the film crew could capture all the shots they needed. These were the only open-top 2000GT ever officially produced. Image: Petersen Automotive Museum

Sales restricted to owners

“Efforts are underway at specially collaborating suppliers, along with Toyota plants and related divisions, in preparation for the production of the reproduced parts due to go on sale. From 1 August 2020, information will be steadily updated on the TGR website, and orders will be accepted.”

“In addition, reproduced parts may be purchased from Toyota dealers in the same way as normal genuine parts.”

Image: Petersen Automotive Museum

“However,” Toyota pointed out, “due to the uniqueness of the Toyota 2000GT, sales will be restricted to owners, to prevent reselling; and the number of parts sold will be limited per car.”

Toyota South Africa Motors concluded by revealing that it possessed its very own 2000GT heritage vehicle which was in the process of under going a “a 360-degree restoration”.

The company said it would be documenting the process with updates to be made available to the public.

Super classic supercar

A quick scratch around the internet will show that as far as the 2000GT is concerned, its is certainly a case of there are classic super cars and then there are super classic super cars.

In a 2015 vehicle sales description published by prominent on-line exotic car specialist and vehicle trading concern, the company said when the GT — at of $6 800 (R114 063) — was first launched in 1967, it had commanded a higher price than the same model year Porsche 911 ($6 050), Jaguar E-Type ($5 585) and Corvette ($4 721).

Image: Petersen Automotive Museum, which described the car as a rare find, was selling a a left-hand drive version of the 2000GT, of which it said only 62 were ever made.

The original colour combination of the aesthetically-striking vehicle, was described as “Solar red with a black interior”.

The SA connection

South Africa’s connection to the 2000GT can be traced back through a blog published on Toyota United Kingdom’s website in early 2016.

According to the blog — also written around a rare 2000GT which had come up for auction:

“This Solar Red Toyota 2000GT wears chassis number 10128. Which means it was the 128th car of a grand total 351 (sic) units made during the model’s short three-year production run.”

Image: RM Sotheby’s

“After its build date of 19 October 1967, the car was shipped from Japan and sold brand new in Mozambique.

“Then in the late 1970s it was bought by a South African collector who already owned three 2000GTs, including the only other 2000GT delivered new to Mozambique,” read the blog before going on to conclude that the vehicle was later acquired by exotic car specialists in Maine, United States (US.