Toyota 2000 GT prepared by Shelby becomes the most expensive Japanese car sold

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The classic race car, the first 2000 GT with a serial number, was traded for the impressive sum of US$2.5 million

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A 1967 Toyota 2000 GT driven by Shelby American hit the auction block on March 4 for US$2.5 million (after auction fees), setting a record for the most expensive Japanese car ever sold.

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The car’s impressive sale by Gooding & Company was helped by its connection to American motorsports legend Carroll Shelby – linking that name to any car almost always guarantees a hefty bounty – and the fact that it does not only ever prepared three copies of the 2000 GT for Racing SCCA C-Production.

But even without this affiliation, the coupe was sure to come at a sky-high price, since it also bears the first production serial number of the Toyota 2000 GT.

The Toyota 2000 GT is one of Japan‘s very first sports cars, a 2,400lb supple coupe that used a Yamaha-tuned 150hp 2.0-litre straight-six to reach a top speed of 220km /h (137mph). The automaker only produced 351 between 1967 and 1970, shipping about 60 to the United States.

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One of the first cars to land on North American soil – and apparently the first 2000 GT built, chassis MF10-10001 – found its way into Shelby’s hands via a budding partnership with Toyota, which wanted to establish a reputation in American motorsport. , and thought a tie-up with the Texan might be the best way to do it. Shelby, who had begun to see her relationship with Ford disintegrate, thought 1967 was an opportune time to find a new dance partner.

Shelby took the old Solar Red show car and prepped it and two other cars for SCCA C-Production class racing. After just one season, he was retired. The current owner acquired the car in 1980 and restored it to competition specifications.

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The car crossed the block at Gooding Florida’s Amelia Island auction, held in conjunction with the Concours d’Elegance held there each year (renamed simply “The Amelia” by its new sponsor and organizer Hagerty Insurance). Bidding started at US$1 million, quickly jumped to US$1.5 million, and then began to falter after crossing the $2 million threshold. Although below Gooding’s pre-auction low estimate of US$2.75 million, his sale of US$2.3 million (before auction fees, which brings the total price to 2 .5 million US dollars) nevertheless represents a rather high watermark.

The record for the most expensive Japanese car ever sold was previously held by a 1989 Mazda 767B four-rotor race car that won its class at Le Mans; it traded at auction for US$1.75 million.

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