How the Toyota 2000GT reclaimed its crown as the most expensive Japanese car ever sold


James Bond had his gorgeous Aston Martins, but Sir Sean Connery, probably the most evocative British spy ever, drove with a handsome Japanese secret service agent named Aki in a convertible Toyota 2000GT.

The Drive reports that the Japanese automaker had to design and produce a pair of 2000GTs just for the 1967 movie “You Only Live Twice.” But the production team rejected the sedan model because it was too difficult to film the scenes with the legendary spy inside the car, so they requested major modifications to the original model. Toyota acknowledged their concerns and designed a targa roof, but the producers were still not satisfied. And just like that, just like in the movies, James Bond got what he wanted – a bespoke supercar.

Of course, the first Toyota 2000GT convertible belonged to 007.

As for the custom gadgets, they were only available for the legendary spy. However, ordinary people and car enthusiasts like Jay Leno were still happy to drive this unique automobile.

Interestingly, this extraordinary episode is not the only one that made the Toyota 2000GT legendary. More recently, a Toyota 2000GT was sold at Amelia Island auction by Gooding & Company for the staggering price of $2.53 million. Car fanatics who have followed the path of this iconic automobile are not surprised that it has fetched millions, given that this automobile has been the “King of Japanese Cars” for almost its entire life cycle.

The 2000GT only lost the crown of most expensive Japanese car in history in 2017, when a Mazda 767B race car sold for $1.75 million. Fast forward to 2022, and the Shelby-tuned 2000GT that hits a top speed of 137 miles per hour is once again the most expensive Japanese car ever sold at auction.

Related: This White 1968 Toyota 2000GT Could Become a Collectible Showpiece

History of the Toyota 2000GT

As well as being part of an exclusive and very rare group of 2000GTs, this precise car is even more special as it is a 1966 pre-production model commissioned by Toyota for racing driver and automotive genius Carroll Shelby . Of the three cars destined for the American motorsport icon, this was supposed to be the first created, even receiving the first serial number, “MF10-10001”.

The Toyota 2000GT was intended as a demonstration vehicle for the American market at a time when Japanese cars did not have the best reputation in the West. But Shelby took a look at it and decided to turn it into a race car that will compete in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) races, according to Hagerty.

Luxury Abode mentions that Shelby replaced the rosewood dash with textured aluminum and added adjustable KONI shocks and a roll bar, while increasing engine output to around 200 horsepower. But after a season on the circuit, the Japanese beast was already retired.

Since then, it has retained the title of “the most expensive Japanese car” for most of its existence, but instead of returning to the racetracks, it has toured the world, passing through various private collections and auctions at Monaco, Mozambique, Costa Rica then return to the United States

Related: Incredibly Hot: Here’s What A Toyota 2000GT Could Look Like Today

The best selling points of the Toyota 2000GT

This impressive automobile is a rare commodity that was not mass-produced. In fact, only 351 units were created, of which 60 were intended for the American market. And while the average person would want to buy the 2000GT, its value was exorbitant from the start.

At a time when the average annual income was $7,300, the Japanese automobile was priced at $7,150 in the American market. Most of its rivals were significantly cheaper; thus, the American public did not warm up and sales were poor. Interestingly enough, this worked in Toyota’s favor because today it’s nearly impossible to find a 2000GT at auction. Naturally, the mismatch of demand and supply increased the value of the car, making it even more valuable.

That said, rarity is not the only selling point of this singular automobile. The fact that he has set three world records and 13 international records is another unique selling preposition.

Naturally, it doesn’t hurt that the 2000GT looks absolutely stunning, having been restored to its original red colour. A standout element of the sumptuous cabin are the wooden components created from the same wood as Yamaha grand pianos.

Finally, the powerful 2.0-liter double-overhead-cam straight-six engine would help the 2000GT reach 137 miles per hour.

Go beyond James Bond and build a timeless car

While most baby boomers will associate the 2000GT with Carroll Shelby and Sean Connery, younger generations are rediscovering this iconic model thanks to Japanese animated series such as “Transformers: Robots in Disguise”, “Sailor Moon” and “Kureyon Shin- chan”. more than the appeal of the 2000GT is timeless.


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