Few cars can claim to be genuinely iconic, but Toyota’s beautiful 1960s 2000GT sports car certainly is. Now a rare example has gone under the hammer for more than $900,000
Very few 2000GT come up for sale, never mind one originally bought and owned by legendary American racing driver Otto Linton (1917-2018), so this 1967 model attracted fierce bidding when it arrived on the auction platform at RM Sotheby’s in the US.
Bidding exceeded the car’s upper estimate, closing at $912,500, or approximately £696,000 last Sunday (25 October). The anonymous buyer certainly has one of the finest examples of the car to come up for sale in recent times.
This Solar Red example was built in 1967 and wears chassis number MF10-10100, which means it was the one-hundredth car in the total of 351 units made during the model’s short, three-year production run.
But more than that, it is one of only 62 cars made in left-hand drive for the important United States export market.
Sometime in the mid-1960s, Linton acquired a Toyota dealership in Pennsylvania, which put the famous racer in the enviable position of being able to order a brand new 2000GT, a sports car he considered one of his all-time favourites. He held on to the rare coupe for more than 30 years before passing it to fellow Toyota dealer Rich Jacobsen, who added the 2000GT to his private collection.
Six years later the car was acquired by Maine Line Exotics, a company which has specialised in the model since 1976 and has restored at least 53 of the 62 cars originally delivered to the United States. This example was no exception to that rule, and its full restoration culminated in it being exhibited at the 2007 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion as part of Toyota Motorsport’s 50th anniversary display.
Soon afterwards, the 2000GT was sold to classic motor vehicle collector Brown Maloney, who didn’t put it away in a sealed garage but drove it as it was designed to be driven, taking part in the 2010 Copperstate 1000 road rally. Eventually, the Toyota made its way into RM Sotheby’s Elkhart Collection , where it was offered to auction at a guide price of $700,000 to $850,000.
The 2000GT was born from motorsport. Following the success of the first and second Japanese Grand Prix events in 1963 and 1964, enthusiasm for all forms of motorsport was on the increase in Japan and motorists began asking for manufacturers to produce truly high-performance road cars.
In response to this ambitious change in car-buying tastes, Toyota began to develop a range-topping grand touring model to showcase the technologies and manufacturing know-how it had accumulated since the 1930s. The aim was to create a practical, high-performance coupe that was comfortable for everyday use, yet with only minor modifications could be just as effective on the race track.
The climax of these efforts was Toyota’s incredibly successful entry in the gruelling Speed Trials held at the Yatabe High Speed Testing Course in 1966.
By the end of the 72-hour event, the yellow-and-green Tosco (now TRD) tuned 2000GT had endured a tropical storm and averaged a pace of 128.76mph around the circuit’s banked oval. It smashed three world records and set 13 new international records for speed and endurance, proving beyond doubt the effectiveness and reliability of the advanced technologies within the car.
And if that wasn’t enough to send the car in to legend, the creation of two special open-top versions (Toyota never formally made a convertible) to accommodate the large frame of actor Sean Connery as secret agent 007 in the movie You Only Live Twice did the rest (see above photo).
(Images taken by Darin Schnabel ©2019 courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)