During the 1960s it was believed that Japanese cars did not offer the same level of quality and reliability as their Western counterparts. However , this was far from the truth because Japanese cars were becoming increasingly popular globally and were proving to be more reliable than many offerings from the United States and Europe. Japanese manufacturers had models that competed in almost every segment through, family hatchbacks to sedans and rugged off-roaders, but what they were missing was a sporty high-performance car.
Europe offered the world vehicles like the Jaguar E-Type plus the Ferrari 250 GTO, among others. America had the Corvette and other race-tuned models, yet Japan has been lacking in this department. That was until the Toyota 2000GT turned up at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show. The model would go on to change the face of Japanese motoring and become the first Japanese car in order to break through the million-dollar mark at a private auction.
This is the particular story of the 2000GT
Following the Second World War, Japan underwent significant changes. The country had to rebuild and many producers shifted their focus in order to building economical cars plus utility vehicles. It wasn’t until the first Japanese Grand Prix in 1963 that drivers in the country became interested in performance. Just one year later, Toyota began working on high-performance model that would showcase the particular company’s technology and engineering abilities.
The particular project had been headed upward by Shoichi Saito, a major contributor to the development associated with Toyota as a manufacturer. His brief was simple – ‘do whatever is necessary to not really only produce the 2000GT but make it one of the – or perhaps even the – finest cars in the world. ”
The 2000GT would need to become practical, yet enjoyable to drive. The engine was to be at the particular front and driving the rear wheels. Finally, it might need to embody a design that could rival those of the more expensive European versions.
As the stroke of luck, Yamaha had approached Toyota at roughly the particular same time with a prototype they had designed. This prototype was originally developed for Nissan, but the competitor company rejected the offer for reasons unknown.
Toyota, however, approved the design Yamaha submitted and used it to good advantage in buoying up its somewhat conservative brand image. Toyota’s designers, Jiro Kawano and Satoru Nozaki, took the A55X prototype and further developed it into what we know today as the 280 A1 prototype vehicle which was unveiled in the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show. The debut remarkably took place only a year after Shoichi Saito commissioned the project. The 280 A1 was met with great excitement and intrigue, however, buyers would have to wait until 1967 to get their hands on the production version of this new sportscar.
The production model
The production version associated with the 2000GT offers a smooth flowing body which was crafted out of aluminium. It was also the 1st Japan-made automobile in order to be fitted with the limited-slip differential and all-round power-assisted disk brakes in standard specification. The 2. 0-litre straight-six engine (with Its DOHC aluminium head) has been developed by Toyota, yet subtly fettled by Yamaha.
The result transcribed to 110kW plus 175Nm, enough to get the grand tourer from 0-100km/h within 10 seconds and a top speed associated with 215km/h. Although the performance of the 2000GT had been impressive considering its power output.
Toyota struggled in order to compete along with the likes of the particular Jaguar E-Type and American Corvettes. However, it didn’t fail to impress media the world over.
Road & Track magazine stated that the 2000GT was one of the particular most exciting cars that they had ever driven and even compared this to the then Porsche 911. The particular 2000GT furthermore achieved success on the racetrack as it won the 1967 Fuji 24-hour race. It also managed to set several FIA globe records with regard to speed and endurance in a 72-hour endurance test.
In the United States, Carol Shelby himself entered a pair of modified 2000GT automobiles into the particular 1968 SCCA production vehicle series. Despite these achievements, the 2000GT’s most famous moment came when it appeared in the 1967 James Bond movie You only live twice . Due to Sean Connery’s size and the relatively small cabin, two convertible versions of the particular 2000GT were specially entrusted for the film. Toyota simply chopped off the roof and replaced it with a soft top unit.
The 2000GT’s main rival, the Nissan 240Z, only arrived in 1969. Incorporating somewhat similar styling towards the Toyota, Nissan’s 240Z focused more on outright overall performance while sacrificing luxury. After three short years of manufacturing, the last 2000GT left the particular factory in 1970 which completed the total build cycle of just 351 cars.
The particular 2000GT changed how the particular world viewed Japanese cars and it went on to influence the design of some of Toyotas iconic sports vehicles such as the Supra, the GT86 and even the Lexus LFA. Produced in such limited numbers, the 2000GT is widely considered in order to be the ultimate Japanese classic – which is reflected inside auctions around the world. Pristine examples are fetching anywhere between R20m plus R40m in these prestigious events.
Out of all the 351 examples of the 2000GT models produced, just three had been designated regarding South Africa. Chassis number MF10-10131 and MF10-10206 in Pegasus White and MF10 10207 finished within Thunder Silver. Three vehicles arrived upon South African shores among 1967 plus 1968.
Toyota Motors South Africa has been in possession of one of these examples intended for many years, the car in question being chassis number MF10-10207. The vehicle forms part of the company’s private collection which usually comprises rare racing automobiles and other Toyota and Lexus models. In July of 2020, Toyota Gazoo Racing announced that it would be reproducing replacement parts for that Toyota 2000GT as part of the particular GR Heritage Parts Project, and sell them both domestically and overseas.
This initiative paved the way for a decision made by Toyota S. africa to do a full bumper-to-bumper restoration of the 2000GT. One of the biggest mysteries, however, is the colour. Various historical sources indicate that this car was originally finished in Thunder Silver, however , the earliest recollections associated with this vehicle are that it was painted white despite its current hue which is solar red.
Those who were lucky enough to acquire the particular 2000 GT had the choice of six different colours to choose from. These included Atlantis green, Bellatrix yellow, Pegasus white, twilight turquoise, solar red-colored and thunder silver. The latter being of importance to this particular story…
Trying to restore a rare classic car is a daunting task on its own, but trying to do that same repair during a global pandemic brought the host associated with challenges. Thankfully, all those involved in this project have shown incredible passion and dedication, despite the particular obstacles. The 2000GT has been split (body from chassis) and both were prepped and sent to Dino’s Auto Body for a complete refurbishment, which saw dents being fixed, panels realigned and finally, a new layer of paint applied.
Dino’s Auto Body was founded in 2006, its founders having decades of combined industry experience. While the company specialises in a variety of repair work on many modern vehicles, it also has a classic vehicle plus restorations department. Dino’s Classic Restorations has refurbished a host of classic automobiles over the particular years, the walk around the workshop floor reaffirms their reputation. Ironically among the plethora of classic vehicles getting restored, features a Jaguar E-Type which at the time was the 2000 GT’s main European competitor on in addition to off typically the track.
Despite Dino’s encounter on classic vehicles, like many involved in this project, they had never seen, let alone worked on a new Toyota 2000GT before. The years experienced taken their toll on this particular example. The paint was clearly in need of work as many scratches, touch-ups and even dents littered the body. The sump cover panel and lower valance got been somewhat deformed over the years of bumping into pavements or speed humps. Before any paint could be applied, this complete removal of all surface material was needed to establish what work needed to be done.
Once the paint had been stripped from the aluminium body, it had been discovered that some repair work has been needed in key areas. Lead required to become heated together with applied to often the affected area, where it could end up being smoothed out after this had cooled and hardened. This specialist procedure had been carried out by the team in various places on the 2000GT.
Once your paint stripping and restoration work seemed to be completed, the exact vehicle was ready for paint. However, the aforementioned question of colour reared its head at this point. According to records, this specific 2000GT, chassis number MF10-10207 left the factory in thunder silver. As to exactly when that transitioned in order to solar red remains some sort of mystery – that said, it was obviously a comprehensive respray back in the day as crimson paint can be found behind the dashboard, under the carpets and under the headliner.
While numerous spray painters will focus on places that can be observed, very few focus on these hidden locations. This led the group to believe that will the car was fully stripped of its original coat and in some stage fully resprayed. Nevertheless , with just over 30 000km upon the odometer, the reason for this remains unanswered.
With the clock ticking and a good decision needing to be made, Toyota South Africa’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, Leon Theron, made the call that this particular 2000GT will remain red. While some experts believe that the vehicle should have gone back again to the original colour to retain its ever-growing market value, the particular fact from the matter is that this 2k GT has a local story, an uniquely South African one.
Dino’s Classic Restorations was able to match the original solar crimson paint mixture (with some assistance from an US-based 2000GT expert, Maine Line Exotics), that was used to some of the models back in 1967. The body of this specific 2000GT was initially prepped and additionally the color was utilized with typically the utmost care. Applying your new coating of paint to some 2000GT can easily be considered as an once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for your restoration shop not to mention its employees.
The color has a fabulous perfect gloss to it, their deep, rich and without blemish while the little louvered sump cover and also lower valance look because good since new. A distinguishing feature of the solar red models are the gunmetal mirror housings, whereas this kind of 2000GT acquired chrome mirror caps to be able to match it is original silver paintwork. In order to preserve this authenticity from the red car, the staff made often the decision to apply the gunmetal paint effect – adding another unique attribute.
Doing the idea the Old School method
The crew that headed up the project is father-and-son duo, Wynand Strydom Sr and Wynand Strydom Jr from Generation Old School Benoni. Their repertoire ranges through Concourse class-winning Beetles as well as Microbuses, for you to American muscle cars such as Mustangs and Chargers.
Although neither of them had ever seen an important Toyota 2000GT in the metal before, much less have one in their own shop, they were more than qualified to take on the job. Both are well versed in disassembling a vehicle and documenting each step : a key function in vintage car repair. Years of experience also prepared them with regard to the task of researching each and every component before commencing restoration.
The particular team at the rear of the recovery believes within the revival associated with parts rather than just replacing them. This not only preserves your value regarding the vehicle but the originality as well. Thankfully, Toyota South Africa provided Generation Old School along with detailed literature pertaining to help the 2000GT, which is a rather large book detailing every single process to disassemble the vehicle and every part number.
It was not long after the car arrived at Era Old School that work began on dismantling the icon. Wynand Junior, who took the lead around the refurbishment, says of which it has been a learning curve for everyone involved. Every nut plus bolt possessed to get removed together with care ~ as one might not be capable to replace it.
The body was separated coming from the chassis, which in itself was a rather special moment. Now, nearly 53 years after the marriage of the body in addition to chassis, the two were once again apart.
As for the framework itself, Wynand Jr confirmed the overall condition involving key components was still in good condition, using only minimum renewal work needed. There were, however, other components the fact that needed to be completely refurbished or replaced. Four such items were the exact magnesium alloy wheels – which necessary special color preparation and even paint to restore them in order to their initial colour.
Typically the original wheel design also incorporates spindle ‘knock-on’ locks, which were badly beaten up by many years of use. Here the Generation Aged School workforce carefully refurbished the original items together with created a special tool to be able to assist with the removal and additionally refitting from the wheels : without damaging any connected with the parts.
One with the last pieces for the puzzle was the windscreen, with international suppliers quoting astronomical figures with no assurance how the part would arrive in tact, the Technology Old Classes team sought out a local glass manufacturer who built a bespoke mould not to mention proceeded without less than six attempts in order to perfect the shape and also fitment ~ the sixth and final one calling the 2000GT home.
On the interior front, the particular intricacies of the facia made it stressful to remove items in the hopes that none break. The wood trim for example (which covers the entire centre console), was brittle and faded and is also extremely thin. This chrome detailing cannot be bent when being removed as well as many from the wires had been crumbling on the slightest touch. The wooden steering wheel in particular previously had a sizeable ‘splinter’, which had for you to be carefully restored to maintain its structural integrity.
The original stereo system was disassembled by a veteran radio repairman, who required within the job of rebuilding the ’60s vintage electronics and making them functional once more. An interesting fact uncovered during this process was that will the Toyota engineers equipped the audio system having a sound fade during typically the retractable antennae operation.
Often the fact of which the car is incredibly compact makes it even more difficult to work on and Wynand Jr has reported numerous bumps on his head because of it. All this individual components were placed into small plastic bags, labelled plus safely stored before this was restored.
Beneath the bonnet of the Toyota 2150 GT lurks a 2 . 0-litre, straight-six petrol using a double-overhead camshaft configuration. When new, this 3M, or within this particular case, 3M-10256 engine would have produced 110kW and 175Nm of torque. The engine is coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission and was basically claimed to help be capable of reaching 217km/h. To put this inside context, a contemporary Corolla Sprinter merely produced 38kW and 85Nm.
But right after years of storage and exposure to the elements, the 3M-10256 wasn’t inside a good shape. Most of the rubber components in the engine bay have been cracking in addition to would leak fluids using the majority about the coolant pathways close to the motor being clogged with rust and build-up. As like the motor was totally stripped and even a rebuild commenced. This process entailed matching up sizes and sourcing components from other engines, creating bespoke engineered bits and some old-school mechanics to restore the original powerplant. This painstaking task appeared to be completed simply by Wessels Motors in Kempton Park; often the smooth running engine providing testament to your time together with effort invested by all of them.
For the exact rebuild, most of the original parts were cleaned up and additionally managed to get back into the particular motor. However , items such as sprockets not to mention bearings were being replaced to ensure optimal running and, of course , new gaskets were made for the reassembly. What’s more, is the fact that a brand new bracket was designed and also fabricated regarding the age-appropriate, aftermarket air conditioning compressor that is mounted to the side of typically the motor.
Upon the intake side from the engine, one very quickly notices this three 2-barrel Mikuni-Solex 40 PHH Type Q carburettors. These three carburettors ended up stripped down and cleaned, serviced having new seals and gaskets and finally retuned intended for the best performance.
Lastly, often the valve cover was given the new coat of black paint as well as contrasting red-colored ignition cables were fitted to give your engine that extra contact of character.
Now that the exact Toyota 2050 GT is complete, TSAM plans to have the local motoring media get up close and personal with all the model to share it has the incredible journey. Nevertheless , there are plans for the particular rare design to become about display for the public at some point in time as well as competing within the prestigious South African Concourse. More information regarding these public displays will be communicated throughout due period.