Ironically, Nissan’s cancellation of Albrecht Goertz’s Yamaha-built design study led to Toyota acquiring the rights to the sleek two-seater coupé that would become the 2000GT. Yamaha was retained to build this envisioned low-volume model, with work beginning in early 1964. The 2000GT dazzled at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, though full production started in May 1967.

Under its aerodynamic coupé design, the 2000GT featured a Lotus Elan-inspired backbone chassis, with double-wishbone independent suspension and disc brakes at all corners—a first for a Japanese car. It boasted a five-speed all-synchromesh transmission, rack-and-pinion steering, an oil cooler, a heated rear screen, and magnesium-alloy knock-off wheels.

Powered by a Yamaha-built twin-cam six-cylinder engine based on the Toyota Crown’s cast-iron block, the 2000GT had a 1,998cc displacement and produced 150bhp at 6,600rpm, with up to 200bhp available in race tune. Carroll Shelby’s team achieved notable success with the 2000GT in SCCA events in 1968. With a top speed of around 130mph, it was among the fastest 2-litre production cars of its era.

Despite generating significant publicity for Toyota, the 2000GT was hindered by its high cost, exceeding that of the Jaguar E-Type and Porsche 911. Only 351 units were produced between 1967 and 1970, including two special roadsters featured in the James Bond film “You Only Live Twice.” Today, this iconic Japanese sports car is rare and highly prized.

Photos by Darin Schnabel courtesy of RM Sotheby’s