You Only Live Twice: James Bond’s Toyota 2000GT convertible
Bond Fever is gripping as we edge closer to the opening of the franchise’s latest instalment, Skyfall. Coincidentally, James Bond turns 50 this year as Toyota crosses the 75 year milestone. It’s a good time than any, then, to fast forward our Toyota 75 celebrations a little bit and look at one of the most iconic cars we ever made and made famous by 007, Toyota 2000GT. More after the break.
On its debut year in 1967, the 2000GT was given its first starring role alongside Sean Connery’s portrayal of James Bond in You Only Live Twice. The Bond Car is even more unique than the already limited edition “standard” version. Allegedly, due to Connery’s height, the film producers requested two open-top convertible models for the movie. The 2000GT really hugs the ground with its highest point at just 116 cm from the ground.
45 years later, the 2000GT has become a true icon and now an integral part of the history of Bond.
Often credited as the “first true original Japanese sports car”, less than 400 of this front-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-seat grand tourer were ever made. The 2.0-litre inline-six engine is also Toyota’s first DOHC engine, developed jointly with Yamaha. (Several decades later, we worked with Yamaha again on our most recent “halo-car”, Lexus LFA)
Recently, American talk show host and petrolhead (or “gearhead” in the US), Jay Leno got some seat time behind the wheels of one of these 2000GT convertibles. Have a look below.
Not only is the 2000GT a Hollywood icon and a truly beautiful piece of automotive design and engineering, it’s also a proper sports car with its own incredible heritage.
In 1966, before the car was launched, we ran the 2000GT in a 72-hour high-speed endurance test. We set a number of speed and endurance world records during this test, recognised by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). That same year, the 2000GT came third in the Japanese Grand Prix and continued on to win the 1967 24 Hours of Fuji.
Further afield, American automotive legend, Carroll Shelby caught wind of the 2000GT and decided to race two of them in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) races in the 1968 season. Shelby took delivery of three examples, raced two and kept one as spare. Race drivers Scooter Patrick and Dave Jordan took the 2000GT to several victories and finished the season second and third in the championships.
Today, the legend continues. Our latest front-engine, rear-wheel drive sports coupé, the Toyota GT86 takes plenty of design cues from the granddaddy of our sports car line-up. But, it’s probably best to let our former chief designer “Dezi” Nagaya explain it in his own words!