I, and I assume many other PHers, am a complete sucker for the James Bond marketing effect. Of course, you’d still be drooling over the many, many high-end cars that 007 has been lumped with over the years if you stripped away the epic chase scenes and bad guy-defying gadgets. But the fact that most of them were capable of blowing stuff up before effortlessly rolling up at a fictional casino in Montenegro does rather say it all.
However, where the Bond effect worked its best was on the more left-field stuff. I’m mainly thinking of the BMW 750iL from Tomorrow Never Dies. Yes, the old E38 has aged wonderfully (especially compared to its successors), but after years of sports cars and grand tourers, Bond going all sensible with a four-door executive saloon was considered something of a party pooper. Then there’s the car we have here, the Toyota 2000GT. The complete antithesis of the 7 Series, the sleek two-door sports car was introduced to the world in the 1967 flick You Only Live Twice and, to many, it looked a little too familiar.
In the West, the 2000GT bore a striking resemblance to the Jaguar E-Type – and for good reason. The sports car came at a time when the Japanese car industry was still in its infancy, long before the days of VTEC memes and cutesy, pocket-sized Kei cars. To catch up to the competition in the West, some Japanese manufacturers thought it’d be a good idea to cherry-pick all the good bits from rival carmakers and install them in cars destined for the JDM. So when Toyota set about creating the 2000GT, it bought a Jaguar E-Type, a Lotus Elan, a Porsche 911 and various other Western sports cars to see what’s what.
Clearly, the Satoru Nozaki design was heavily inspired by the E-Type, though it was both shorter and narrower. Nozaki allegedly had a stab at improving the E-Type’s aerodynamics, too, by ditching the Jag’s tapered rear-end for something flatter. The chassis, meanwhile, was influenced by the Elan’s, while the Yamaha-developed 2.0-litre, 150hp straight-six engine was derived from the Crown saloon. Granted, it didn’t have the same punch as its European rivals, but it was one heck of a statement of intent.
Unfortunately, Toyota struggled to shift the 2000GT outside of Japan, not helped by the fact it was priced at a similar level to the Jaguar E-Type and co. Yes, Toyota is a household name today, but it’d be like forking out F-Type money on a Chinese knock-off (though the MG Cyberster does look rather appealing). Only 351 were ever produced, hence the noise of jaws hitting floors when this example popped up at Autofficina.
Like the one in the Bond movie, this one is finished in Pegasus White. Unlike the Bond car, this one doesn’t need to accommodate a 6’ 2” Sean Connery and therefore comes with a roof – as all 2000GTs did, bar two. This particular car was originally registered in Mozambique in 1968, before winding up in the UK via Portugal. Since then, it’s undergone a thorough restoration, including an engine rebuild and suspension overhaul, which no doubt helped it bag ‘best in show’ at last year’s London Concours. An immaculate example of an ultra-rare Japanese hero was never going to be cheap, and you’ll need £835,000 lying around for this one here. A chunk of change for a car some consider an E-Type ‘clone’. Totally worth it, though.