Art of the Automobile
21 November 2013
1967 Toyota 2000GT
To be auctioned on Thursday, November 21, 2013
Sold for $968,000
- Chassis no. MF10-10093
- The perfect balance of aerodynamic efficiency and aesthetic excellence
- The first true Japanese supercar
- One of only 54 U.S.-delivery examples
- Largely original, unrestored, and beautifully preserved
Little did the attendees know at the time, but the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show would signal a significant shift in the automotive world. Certainly the most desirable sports cars in the world were “Western.” Italy’s Ferrari 275, Britain’s E-Type, Germany’s Porsche 911, and the American Chevrolet Corvette all satisfied a youthful urge in the automotive market for sprightly and beautifully designed sports cars. Japan, however, had never produced a car that could pluck at the heartstrings of enthusiasts…that is, until the 2000GT made its grand debut.
In comparison to what preceded it, and to its contemporary competition, the 2000GT was almost otherworldly. Here was an automobile that could compete with the world’s most sophisticated sports cars, not only in terms of performance, but also in design. Yamaha, which at the time was heavily involved in motorcycle production, produced the car’s underpinnings. Toyota saw this as an opportunity to shake their reputation of producing rather conservatively designed cars. The 2000GT project would show the world that Toyota could design and construct a car that was both evocative and exciting, and that they could reach a design equilibrium that perfectly balanced aerodynamic efficiency and aesthetic excellence.
In an article written by a Toyota designer in the 1967 fall issue of Automobile Quarterly, it is evident that much thought was given to the overall design language of the 2000GT.
As for the interior design, the Toyota designer believed that the interior should be as much about comfort as it is about fashion. “As a Grand Touring car, it should have the equipment and layout to respond to a high degree of driving skill. Unlike the usual concept of a sports car, which presupposes a certain amount of discomfort and austerity, it should possess an air of comfort and affluence. It should be the kind of car in which its owner can enjoy a leisurely drive in town or a fast zip through the countryside.”
While the interior was well appointed with wood trim—sourced from Yamaha’s own piano division—and leather, it featured nothing more than what is necessary for a driver to enjoy the car as a grand tourer. Owners could easily acquaint themselves with their surroundings, and nothing essential to driver control or passenger comfort was ever too far out of reach.
Even though its engine was based on the inline six in the second generation Toyota Crown Sedan, the 2000GT would prove to be the most exciting car in the Toyota model range. The engine produced 150 horsepower, and the vehicle had a curb weight of just 2,400 pounds. This allowed it to achieve a favorable 49/51 weight distribution, which made it quite light on its feet and a joy to drive on a winding mountain road. Motor Trend lauded it as “one of the most exciting and enjoyable cars we’ve driven.”
Adding to the desirability of the 2000GT is its rarity. Only 351 examples left the factory by the time production concluded in 1970, and just 15% of those were imported to the United States. Priced at over $7,000 in 1967, the 2000GT was $1,000 more than both the E-Type and 911, and over $2,500 more than a Corvette. According to this car’s original purchase invoice and window sticker, the 2000GT is a 1967 model that was delivered new to Len Sheridan Toyota in Santa Monica, California. It was purchased for $7,240 by a Robert Vandergrift, who resided in Brentwood, California. For the past decade, the car has resided in a very well-respected Southern California collection.
Offered today in highly original condition, this spectacular 2000GT continues to show extremely well. The car has never been subject to a restoration of any kind; although, it was repainted once in its original color of Solar Red. The engine and drivetrain remain 100 percent original and in fully functioning condition, and they have never be disassembled or removed from the car. The interior is also highly original; it displays a few signs of wear, but it has always been well maintained. The car comes with a plethora of original documentation, including the original warranty card, purchase invoice, registration, window sticker, service booklet, and owners’ manual.
Indeed, this is unquestionably one of the finest 2000GTs in existence, as it exemplifies Toyota’s intent in its purest and most original form. It is, without exaggeration, the perfect sports car, and, as Ron Wakefield wrote for Motor Trend in 1967, “the pictures just don’t do it justice.”
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