Back in the mid-1960s Toyota had a reputation for producing reliable, economical cars. On the other hand they were also viewed as being a little stodgy and unexciting. There was a market however for performance cars; and the 2000 GT was brought out in 1967 to compete for this.
Whether this is fair or not, Japanese manufacturers of all kinds were viewed as companies that just liked to make copies of products that had already been developed in Europe and America. There is certainly something of the Lotus Elan and E-type Jaguar about the 2000 GT but not enough to start a trademark battle! However like the Elan it had a lightweight alloy body over a separate chassis, with a front-mid engine driving the rear wheels.
The car was designed and built in cooperation with Yamaha and it very nearly got built as a Datsun instead; Yamaha proposed it to Nissan/Datsun first but they turned the project down. Toyota were more enthusiastic since they wanted to be known as a company that was capable of creating supercars as well as bread and butter ones.
The engine began life as a standard 2000 cc straight six cylinder Toyota product but Yamaha perked it up considerably, fitting an aluminium cylinder head, triple carburettors and twin overhead cams. The result was a power unit producing 150 brake horsepower which could propel the car to 135 miles an hour, with acceleration from nought to 60 in 8.4 seconds.
This was not a cheap car; in the United States it sold for a retail price including taxes of around US$6800, which was a lot more expensive than an equivalent Jaguar or Porsche, but even at this price it is being claimed that Toyota made no money on it, but were content to bask in the reflected glory of a 'supercar' carrying their name.
Comfort for the driver and passenger could best be described as 'adequate' provided that none of them were too tall; this car after all sat only 45.72 inches at it's highest point and it was said that Sean Connery, who was six foot two inches tall had to have the top of his modified 2000GT that he drove in a film removed so that he could fit in it!
A total of 351 of these cars were manufactured between 1967 and 1970. It is widely considered to be Japan's first supercar; it is popular amongst collectors and fine examples have sold for more than US$1 million.