Chassis No. MF1010080 ‘Do whatever necessary to not only produce the 2000GT, but make it one of the, or perhaps even the greatest car in the world.’ -2000GT project leader Shoichi Saito 1965 In the early 1960’s Toyota had something to prove – even if they were Japan’s largest automobile manufacturer. Of their rivals, Honda was developing a Formula One car. Nissan teamed up with Prince to create the R380 for competition in the prestigious Japan GP. Yamaha and Kawasaki were winning their classes in top-flight motorcycle racing in Europe. Toyota, on the other hand, had the Toyopet Crown, a stodgy sedan that did nothing to dispel the notion that Toyota was Japan’s most conservative car manufacturer. After starting small with the Sports 800, Toyota made larger plans in the summer of 1964 to change their image and began work outlining ‘Project 280A’: a two-liter GT sports coupe suitable for international motorsport competition. At the same time, and likely unknown to Toyota, Nissan and Yamaha had been collaborating on a similar sports car project, the ‘A550X’. After a short time, Nissan pulled the plug on their collaboration leaving Yamaha with lots of investment in design work, two functioning prototypes, and in search of a new partner. This withdrawal from the Yamaha partnership just months after Toyota began Project 280A became an opportunity for Toyota to reduce risk and partner with Yamaha, a company with true sporting credentials. Remarkably, in less than a year, the first Toyota 2000GT prototype debuted at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show. What those in attendance saw was nothing short of earth shattering for a Japanese car manufacturer. While most were impressed by the long, flowing lines of the Satoru Nozaki designed body or the Yamaha tuned 148 hp, two-liter ‘3M’ straight-six twin-cam engine, those who tested or owned one of the remarkable cars were astonished by the attention to detail in design and quality of construction that was markedly apparent when the car was both sitting still and driven at speed. Such was the extent of their quest for excellence, Yamaha had poached master craftsmen from their musical instrument division to help equip the interior with the finest rosewood trim. At once, the design, power, and quality erased the image that Toyota – and Japan – created only sober, economical cars. It didn’t hurt that the team, led by Jiro Kawano, Toyota’s racing manager and lead engineer on the 2000GT project, finished 1-2 in the inaugural Suzuka 1000km in June 1966 and four months later set thirteen separate FIA E Class (1500-2000cc) time and distance records over 72 hours with a prototype 2000GT. More victories were to follow the next year in 24 Hours of Fuji and the Fuji 1000km. Even Carroll Shelby flew to Japan to convince Toyota upper management that he should be the one to operate the planned 2000GT SCCA effort in the USA. By the time deliveries began in April 1967, expectations within the company were high enough to believe Toyota could sell 1000 2000GTs a month. In the end - over three years - Toyota only sold 337 2000GTs. The issue? Price. Toyota, in an all-out effort to produce one of the greatest cars in the world, also created one that was more expensive than its contemporary rivals like the Jaguar E-Type and Porsche 911. As a result, Saito’s team, by following his edict to the letter - there were no proclamations regarding affordability or a competitive price – inadvertently created one of the rarest as well.
- VIN CODE MF1010080