In the late 1960s, Toyota assembled one of the finest motor vehicles ever made by human hands. It was low, sleek, with its long bonnet hiding a Yamaha-developed two-litre straight-six. But what’s a great performance car without a racing program? What’s a racing team in the late 60s without Carroll Shelby? Toyota, it seems, has thought through all these questions, and those parts all came together for a Toyota-backed, Shelby-developed 2000GT race team.
Toyota gave Shelby three 2000GTs for the 1968 SCCA season, two of which placed third and fourth for the season behind a pair of Porsche 911s. Toyota ended the program after that first year, but the cars survived, including this onethe very first 2000GT produced, which comes raised over $2.5 million at auction.
The previous record for the most expensive Japanese car ever sold was a very different Toyota – the very first Supra 2020, which was auctioned off at Barrett-Jackson for charity. With this 2000GT only making $435,000 more, it almost feels like a bargain. The Supra may have an amazing exhaust note, but does it have racing heritage and classic Shelby colors?
Usually, when cars cost absurd amounts of money, I am here at reproach on high prices making things unaffordable to most enthusiasts. But if a car is really worth $2.535 million, it’s probably this bad boy with his long list of accomplishments: very first 2000GT, first Toyota to compete in SCCA, first agreement between Carroll Shelby and a Japanese car manufacturer. Add all that history to one of the most beautiful cars ever formed from metal, and the price starts to seem a little more reasonable. It may only be a matter of time before another Japanese car eclipses this one in terms of sale price, but for now its place in the record books is rightly deserved.