Toyota as a company has achieved many accolades in the field of automotive engineering – both, in its spirited performance and its bulletproof reliability. The one aspect that is generally not associated with Toyota is, design. Barring a few models which were considered ‘handsome’, the Japanese giant hasn’t been at the forefront of design. Well to be more specific ‘design that inspires emotion’. Toyota has made a few sharp, aggressive looking, futuristic cars but they haven’t really been able to invoke a sense of emotion from its observers. The classic example of ‘design evoking emotions’ would be the Jaguar E-Type, the deeper relevance of the Jaguar E-type will be apparent later in the article. The E-type was a brilliantly crafted automobile, which could bring romance to any backdrop its being driven around in. The voluptuous curves and the compact fastback can have you admiring it for hours.
Yamaha was a contract manufacturer for a couple of Japanese auto giants like Nissan and Toyota in the 60’s. Yamaha proposed the idea of the 2000GT initially to Nissan, who declined Yamaha’s offer. Yamaha then approached Toyota with their proposal for the 2000GT. Toyota at this time, were struggling with their design language, and a general perception of building appliances rather than automobiles. The timing couldn’t have been better – Toyota took Yamaha up on their offer but sent one of its own designer Satoru Nozak to design the Toyota 2000GT.
The Toyota 2000GT was therefore a lovechild of Toyota and Yamaha, set in a backdrop of the swinging 60’s. The car was designed and showcased in the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show to the public, where it blew everyone’s mind with its gorgeous design. The 2000GT was manufactured between 1967 and 1970, yet only 351 units of the car were produced and sold to the public. It was heavily inspired by the Jaguar E-Type. Smooth flowing body-lines crafted through aluminium, the long nose and rear set cockpit resembled a fighter jet canopy with the rear section of the car merging into the boot. The interiors had luxury written all over it, with rosewood and veneer dashboard and an auto seeking radio. It had the features to go head to head with its European counterparts.
If the design competition for the Toyota 2000GT was with the Jaguar E-type, its performance competitor was with the Porsche 911. When Toyota decided to bring the 2000GT to life, they wanted to make it go as fast as it looked. Although, the 2-litre engine derived from the Toyota Crown didn’t inspire much confidence. The phrase “small changes make the biggest difference” can be best explained through this. Yamaha stepped in once again to tweak the 2-litre Crown engine, adding in a dual camshaft to it and made a worthy performer with the engine now putting out a sumptuous 150 horsepower. Coupled with the lightweight aluminium chassis and the fast back design, the Toyota 2000GT finally had the go to match the show with a top speed of 135mph! There was also a very interesting James Bond angle to the incredible 2000GT. The Toyota 2000GT was used in the bond movie ‘You Only Live Twice’, most of which was filmed in Japan. During the 1960’s, Bond was played by lanky Sean Connrey, who couldn’t fit into the coup version of the 2000GT, so they went about building 2 convertible versions of the 2000GT. Though the car was majorly driven by Bond’s girlfriend in the movie, Toyota managed to put together this convertible version for the movie in a record breaking two weeks time! Even according to the current Bond, played by Daniel Craig, it is his favourite Bond car and well the truth is, we couldn’t agree more with him!
Photos by RM Sotheby for Amelia Island sale. To find out more about their curate classic cars on sale, visit their website here.