Toyota is like Marion the Librarian, whose staid demeanor is punctuated by occasions of raw, unbridled passion simply by letting down her hair and casting off her glasses. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe 2000GT happens to be one of those occasions.
Of course for the rest of the time, that librarian would most likely drive something frugal and exhibiting financial modesty, like say yesterday's 1978 Fiesta Sport. Unfortunately for the seller of that car, fully 60% of you felt his price made the car unworthy of checking out. Today's Toyota, however, is definitely worth its weight in Dewey Decimals.
Frequently, and erroneously, attributed to Albrecht Goertz, the E-Type-esque lines of Toyota's stunning 2000GT were actually penned in-house by Toyota designer, Satoru Nozaki. Intended as a testament in aluminum to Toyota's technological prowess and ability to build something more than just automotive Ambien, it may come as an even greater shock to find that the 2000GT was actually built by Yamaha.
Regardless of parentage, only 351 of the tiny coupes were constructed between 1967 and 1970, along with a pair of custom convertibles for the James Bond film You Only Live Twice (hence this article's title), making them about as rare as hen's teeth sushi pretty much everywhere you go. It's remarkable that one is showing up on the Bay of E rather than crossing the dais at some snooty auction, or being surreptitiously traded for nuclear arms by a creepy guy with a facial scar and a fluffy cat.
This 1967 2000GT (#88) comes in both left-hand drive and the car's most common exterior shade - white on rice. The 2000 of the GT's name comes from the displacement of its inline 6-cylinder engine, the block of which can trace its history back to the stoic and no-nonsense Crown sedan. Here in funsville, it gets a Yamaha-engineered twin cam head and a trio of throaty Solex 40 PHH side-draughts. Working the other side of the towering cam-ferno is a pair of cast iron three-into-one headers which tie into a pair of up-tipping center-output pipes under the license plate. That's all good for 150 nervous ponies, not a lot of torque, and an exhaust note that sounds like konnichiwaaaaaa, bwaaaaaaa, bwaaaaaa!
As presented, #88 appears to be not just showroom fresh, but nearly Concours D' gotta' have condition. The seller claims it to be a one-owner car that - albeit having sat fallow for an undisclosed time - has had a full-on freshening (think Tin Man's happy ending makeover after finally getting to OZ) which included a rebuild of the Yamaha two-litre, and some new seat and console material in the luxuriously appointed, but unbelievably tight interior. Thankfully, the rosewood plank that serves as the dash still maintains a patina of age, making the car look well taken care of, but not it rubs the lotion on its skin obsessed over.
Outside, the car appears pristine, even down to the Sport 800-evoking driving lights sitting precariously behind plexi covers which define the car's leading edge, and make parallel parking the coupe a major pucker-fest. Those lamps look like headlamps - they're that big, but the actual let there be lights lift out of the hood like Japan's rising sun. The long-hood, short-deck body is evocative of other makes, but remains wholly its own. The complex curved glass that was one of the major production nightmares looks well worth the effort, evoking the appearance of a full-face helmet's visor from the side. If George Lucas had crafted Star Wars ten years earlier, the 2000GT could have easily been the basis for Darth Vader's spaceship - except that he'd never be able to fit inside it.
When I was in Monterey for the Historics, I think it was three years ago, Toyota brought out the cars that defined their racing history to that date for a few laps of Laguna Seca. There was an IMSA racer, an SCCA Celica, something else I couldn't be bothered to remember, and a race-prepped 2000GT. Despite a valiant effort by its driver, the little 2000 bore the weight of its age, displacement disadvantage, and period-correct narrow tires, and got lapped by everything else on the parade. I guess that didn't sit well with either car or driver because near the end, it appeared at the top of the corkscrew at full chat - and with its backend where it shouldn't ought to have been. The driver sawed frantically at the wheel, sending the car way too deep the other way, while the crowd drew a collective gasp as it arced across the famed ess bend's first corner. Finally, accompanied by the staccato squealing of the skinny tires announcing they had lost any semblance of traction, the 2000GT gracelessly went bass-akwards into the gravel.
Hopefully this 46,000-mile example has never - nor ever will - suffer such a fate, because as noted, parts for these buggers are hard to come by. In fact so are whole cars, and that - along with the fact that these things are so beautiful that you would be forgiven for getting all Tawny Kitaen on its hood - make them pretty damn valuable. The seller obviously realizing this, has priced his at $650,000, and while you might be excused for thinking you could afford that, look again, as that's in dollars U.S., not Japanese Yen.
To save you the mental effort, that works out to 216.667 Miatas at three grand a pop, and for those of you who would be satisfied with cornering the MX5 market, that might be the route to go. For the rest of us, those who would like to lick this car like it was a Devon Aoki ice cream cone, the question remains - should someone actually pay that much for it? What do you think, is $650,000 (makes me light-headed just writing that) a deal for this Yamahoppin' Toyota 2000GT? Or, is that a price that's bent on world domination - of our wallets at least?
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