Auctions and Brokerage
From an Important Private CollectionOtto Linton, Devon, Pennsylvania (acquired new in 1967)Rich Jacobsen, Scranton, Pennsylvania (acquired from the above in 1998)Maine Line Exotics, Biddeford, Maine (acquired from the above in 2006)Brown Maloney, Sequim, Washington (acquired from the above in 2007)Charles Lillard, Los Angeles, California (acquired from the above in 2011)Current Owner (acquired in 2015)
Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, Monterey, California, August 2007 (Toyota Motorsports 50th Anniversary Display)Copperstate 1000, Arizona, April 2010
By the mid-1960s, the burgeoning Japanese auto industry had become adept at producing small-displacement, economical cars but struggled to gain respectability as a sports car manufacturer. That would change with the development of the Toyota 2000 GT, which brought divergent companies together to produce in limited numbers a beautiful grand tourer.
The idea began with Yamaha, which was eager to increase its business as an engineering firm and boutique constructor. In the early 1960s, it began working with Nissan on a prototype called the A550X before the Japanese automaker canceled the project. Having successfully demonstrated the ability to produce a finished test mule, they approached Nissan’s competitor Toyota, which was looking to move away from its image of building stodgy economy cars.
Toyota was the largest and most conservative of the Japanese automakers and insisted upon using an in-house designer named Satoru Nozaki for the body design. Nozaki took inspiration from the Jaguar E-Type, sculpting compound curves for each body panel. The inclusion of pop-up headlights and covered driving lights was a modern touch that created a clean front-end appearance. In constructing these complex bodies, Yamaha utilized wooden bucks to form individually numbered aluminum panels, and each car was hand-assembled in Japan.
Underneath that gorgeous skin was more British sports car inspiration, as the 2000 GT used a steel backbone-style frame and four-wheel independent suspension inspired by the Lotus Elan. The body hung over a central chassis beam, allowing for a dropdown effect that resulted in a roofline of only 45".
The engine paired a two-liter six-cylinder block from the Toyota Crown sedan with an aluminum twin-cam hemispherical head designed by Yamaha. Equipped with three side-draft carburetors and carefully tuned for maximum performance, this smooth straight-six developed 150 bhp at 6,600 rpm, allowing the car to sprint from 0–60 mph in 10 seconds, and on to a 137 mph top speed.
Interior appointments were unusually luxurious for a freshman-effort sports car and featured a full gauge package, mahogany steering wheel, signal-seeking radio, and gorgeous rosewood veneer dashboard made by the Yamaha Piano Company.
The 2000 GT’s place in popular culture was assured with the inclusion of an open-top variant in the 1967 James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, joining an exclusive cadre of cars to have been driven by the fictional British secret service agent.
The car offered here, chassis MF10-10100, is a well-known example of this Japanese rarity, recognized for its exceptional originality and integrity. One of only 62 examples imported into the US during the model’s production, this original left-hand-drive car is finished in the popular shade of Solar Red.
This 2000 GT is one of three examples originally sold to legendary American tuner, racer, and Toyota dealer Otto Linton of Devon, Pennsylvania. Mr. Linton, an aficionado of fine sports cars, stated that this particular 2000 GT was his favorite and the preferred driver of the three he owned.
Following Mr. Linton’s ownership, the 2000 GT passed into the care of another Pennsylvania Toyota dealer, Rich Jacobsen of Scranton. In 2006, marque experts Maine Line Exotics of Biddeford, Maine, acquired MF10-10100 and performed a sympathetic restoration, refinishing the car in its original Solar Red while preserving much of the original interior trim. Once this work was completed, the 2000 GT was sold to esteemed collector Brown Maloney of Sequim, Washington.
During his ownership, Mr. Maloney displayed the car in a special Toyota Motorsports 50th Anniversary exhibit at the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races and successfully participated in the 2010 Copperstate 1000. In 2011, Charles Lillard acquired the 2000 GT before selling it to the current owner in 2015.
Under the care of its current owner, the 2000 GT has been treated to substantial mechanical attention, with receipts totaling over $29,000 spent on recent engine and gearbox maintenance. For improved driveability, the original Mikuni-Solex carburetors have been upgraded to Weber 40 DCOE carburetors; otherwise, the engine compartment of MF10-10100 remains wonderfully faithful to its original appearance. It should also be noted that the sale of this car includes an original owner’s manual, an extremely rare and desirable piece of literature.
Certainly one of the finest and most highly regarded examples of Japan’s greatest sports car, this Toyota 2000 GT is an important historical benchmark and a world-class automobile on par with the greatest European grand tourers of the 1960s.