Toyota 2000 GT smashes auction records for a Japanese car

Toyota 2000GT

Widely regarded as the most valuable and significant classic Japanese sportscar of all time, a very special Toyota 2000GT recently smashed two auction records.

Words: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
Images: Gooding & Company

Internationally, the Toyota 2000GT has been regarded as the most valuable Japanese road car for some time, and even locally Toyota South Africa Motors is busy restoring their own 2000 GT. 

But because the car is so rarely seen on South African shores, few locals will know that the 2000GT’s 2.0-litre, six-cylinder engine was engineered with the assistance of Yamaha. Other highlights of the 2000GT include its twin camshafts, resulting in 112 kW and the top speed is said to be an impressive 220kph. Although Toyota aimed to produce 1 000 examples of their then halo product, only 351 were made owing to the high cost of production and slow sales. 

Toyota 2000GT

This brings us to this 2000 GT that was auctioned by Gooding & Company a few days ago, for the pricey sum of $2 535 000 dollars (R38 300 000), around two-and-a-half times more than the value of road going cars.

However, it does have a unique history... 

This car is chassis MF10-10001, which means it is the first “serial-numbered” example manufactured and then, much more importantly, “the first of just three examples that Shelby prepared for SCCA C-Production racing, Toyota’s first foray into US motor sports.” This is according to Gooding & Company

Toyota 2000GT

In Shin Yoshikawa’s book, called Toyota 2000 GT: The Complete History of Japan’s First Supercar, MF10-10001 was finished on 27 September 1966. This means it was the first of only four pre-production models made that year. Its original colour was Solar Red and it was used as one of the original show cars in the USA. Following its excursions, it was used as a company car by Akiri Miki, a Toyota executive who wanted to take the GT racing in America. 

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Even though the GTs were raced in Japan between 1965 and 1967, Toyota was keen to compete with the GT in the USA, its most important market at the time. It seemed that the SCCA’s C-Production category would be an ideal class for the GT, where it would compete with cars from Porsche, Lotus, Triumph and another Japanese entrant, Datsun. 

Toyota 2000GT

This is where Carroll Shelby stepped in. Shelby secured the contract to take the GT racing and the work on the 2000GTs started with three cars being allocated to the project. 

Upgrades to the car, to name a few, included: dual exhausts, Girling brake callipers, adjustable KONI shock absorbers, a differential cooler, modified oil pan and special lightweight Halibrand magnesium wheels wearing Goodyear racing tyres.

Toyota 2000GT

The cabin was stripped of its neat Rosewood dashboard and replaced with an aluminium panel and Stewart-Warner instruments. For safety a roll bar and a racing harness were fitted. To offer improved gear shifting, an open-gate shifter was installed. 

By December 1967, chassis 10005 and 10006 were entered as the primary cars, while chassis 10001 was the backup entry and would be used as the developmental car. In 1968 at the end of the season the Toyota-Shelby team finished 4th. It achieved four 1st places, eight 2nd places and six 3rd places. 

Over the past 42 years this car has been in the hands of a single collector, as Gooding & Company explained:

Toyota 2000GT

“In 1980, the consignor, a gentleman widely regarded as the foremost 2000GT specialist, acquired MF10-10001. Over the next decade, his workshop performed a complete body-off restoration, with the goal of returning this significant car to its original splendor. During this process, the 2000GT was carefully disassembled and stripped to bare metal, one coat at a time, to reveal its original livery. After years of research and meticulous preparation, the Toyota was faithfully restored to its original 1968 SCCA configuration, including its unique Shelby mechanical components and historic white and metallic blue racing livery.”

Toyota 2000GT

Subsequently the car has participated in the 2004 Goodwood Festival of Speed, has attended numerous other historic events and achieved a First in Class at the 2017 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

All this provenance makes it arguably one of the most significant Toyotas ever built, and indeed worthy of the price it achieved. The result is the most expensive Japanese car ever sold at auction, and obviously also the most expensive Toyota. 

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