Market Finds: Finally Taken Seriously: The Japanese Nostalgic Hero

Finally Taken Seriously: The Japanese Nostalgic Hero

Andrew Golseth By Andrew Golseth
January 18, 2016
11 comments

For too long, vehicles produced in Japan, The Land Of The Rising Sun, were typically viewed as cheap reliable transportation for the masses, but not much else. This narrow-minded viewpoint imposed the idea that all Japanese cars were disposable appliances with no real “soul”—a misguided notion. Sure, I’ll mock a Camry for being a “refrigerator on wheels,” but I know better than to claim all vehicles from the country are econoboxes best recycled after a few hundred thousand miles of abuse. If you don’t believe there are Japanese nostalgic autos capable of increasing your heart rate, you’re simply ill-informed.

It’s 2016 and for the most part, petrolheads acknowledge the desirability and collectability select classic Japanese autos carry. Decades of love have seen the Datsun 510 and 240z, Toyota AE86 and FJ, ‘Hakosuka’ and ‘Kenmeri’ Skylines, and Honda S-series roadsters becoming sought after shakotan that have been restored, restomodded, and raced to Honshu and back. However, the popularity of old Japanese automobiles in the U.S. has been a rather small band of enthusiasts for decades—it wasn’t until the early 2000s when a broader interest took off and Japanese classics started appreciating…at a startling rate.

But none have climbed the value ladder faster and higher than the Toyota 2000 GT—the Far East’s first “supercar”.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising, considering that only 350 some-odd examples were made, but the stunning 1967 Toyota 2000 GT you see here is estimated to demand more than three-quarters of a million dollars. In 2013, one of 62 left-hand-drive models sold for over a million. A Toyota sold for more than a million dollars? Strange times, indeed.

Why should that surprise us? It shouldn’t: because it’s been a long time coming. It was inevitable. Common ignorance towards an entire nation’s automotive buffet couldn’t have lasted forever. Enthusiasts were bound to collectively realize, “Wait, these are good… no, these are great automobiles”.

With the global eye opening, we’re experiencing a bit of hyperinflation in the Japanese nostalgic car market, along with seemingly all other vintage autos. This beautiful Solar Red right-hand-drive 2000 GT is at the top of the Japanese market, as it should be. The 2000 GT’s athletic proportions made an impression on Nissan’s CEO, “Mr. K,” which heavily influenced his very own sportscar—the beloved Datsun 240Z. The Toyota was even worthy of the Hollywood spotlight. In 1967, 007’s Tokyo partner, Aki, drove a custom 2000 GT convertible in You Only Live Twice—the only Japanese “Bond car” to date.

It isn’t just the progressive design either; the 2000 GT is an engineering masterpiece. It weighs a feathery sub-2,500 pounds, sports a DOHC straight-six rated at 125 horsepower, and has independent suspension at all four. The aluminum Coke bottle-shaped body features flip-up headlights, Plexiglass driving lamp covers, slim bumpers, and bullet-shaped wing mirrors. Thanks to its low center of gravity and clever packaging, the roof is less than 47 inches tall!

This particular car was one of two 2000 GT originally sold in Mozambique, Africa. The car exchanged ownership a few times before being purchased by the Costa Rica importer, Javier Quiros. Peter Starr and Robert Tkacik of Maine Line Exotics then bought the tired GT. Fortunately, Mr. Quiros had valuable Toyota connections and used the company’s archives to assist Peter and Robert’s restoration. The team completely dismantled chassis MF10-10128, with Quiros ensuring every detail of the reconstruction was as close to factory spec as possible.

After 4,000 plus man-hours, the restoration was completed in May 2014. The car is claimed to be one of the finest 2000 GT examples on earth—and if the photos are anything to go by, it certainly appears to hold true.

History

– One of two originally sold in Mozambique, Africa
– Meticulous OE-spec restoration thoroughly documented

Specifications
~125 horsepower dual-overhead cam straight-six engine, aluminum body construction, and fully independent suspension.

Vehicle information
Chassis no.: MF10-10128

Valuation

Auction house: Gooding & Company
Estimate: $750,000 – $950,000
Price realized: TBD; Auction on January 29

 

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Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

What ????? Since when hasn’t the 200GT been a rare as hens teeth and very expensive classic esteemed thru out the automotive world and by name designers especially ? Answer ? Never . Since the day it was introduced its been an automotive icon who’s legend only grows by the minute . The only thing holding prices down …. somewhat and relatively speaking ? Those over 5’8″ need not apply … cause brother … no amount of crow bars … jaws of life etc will ever get you even reasonably comfortably into a 2000 GT . Finally ……… indeed !… Read more »

JB21
JB21

You are absolutely correct on this one.

Consolidated Planets
Consolidated Planets

Hey Guitar Slinger!

You crack me up and you’re correct as usual. Don’t let the whiners get to you. These were always hot cars. Just ask James Bond.

JB21
JB21

Andrew Golseth, you may want to ask the gentleman what he meant by “pennies,” because 2000GT has never ever been even remotely affordable for regular working folks, and I’m talking about Japanese market. And if very rare occasion when it showed up on the foreign market, it has always fetched top dollar, even back in the 80s. Frankly, it was the only Japanese car that has always been taken seriously.

Douglas Brooks Howard
Douglas Brooks Howard

The late 80’s early 90’s also produced some of the best looking cars of not only Japan, but of the world. If you can, get them now before they are priced out of your reach.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Oh really ? Other than a very few … name some … especially from Japan [ don’t even try much as I love em to convince me the NSX is ever remotely good looking ] Go ahead … I dare you ! Best looking cars indeed . 99\% of them were fugly on the best of days …. eeesh … Subaru SVX …. Toyota Supra … other than the 308 , 288 GTO and 456 everything Ferrari made … Jag(urp)uars of the era ….. everything American …. eeee.. those travesties posing as Alfas … yeah … sure was a bunch… Read more »

David Palacios
David Palacios

I saw a 2000GT at this years Mecum auction in Florida. My dad and I got up and close and I was about to sneak inside but quickly got stopped. At least I got to open the door. It was also a left hand drive model so it must have been pretty rare.

Douglas Brooks Howard
Douglas Brooks Howard

I was much luckier. Back in 1991 I was living in Japan teaching English. I was out riding my bicycle around my neighbourhood when I saw a beautiful 2000GT in the showroom of a local Toyota dealership. Being the car guy I am I knew what it was and had to go and see it. They had it behind a chain rope barrier. You could look but not get close enough to touch. Being a Canadian in Japan has it advantages sometimes. The dealer not only let me touch it, he opened the door and let me sit in the… Read more »

Linda N Brian Schick
Linda N Brian Schick

Finally some recognition for Japanese classics.

Harry H
Harry H

Had a chance to see a couple of these beautiful vehicles at historic car meet in Yokahama late 2012. Pictures do not do them justice, in the flesh they look even better. For a westerner like myself, the display had so many exotic Japanese vehicle that I never knew existed. But this gold example was my highlight.