Toyota rose from the ruins of World War II to become a force to be reckoned with by producing affordable utilitarian vehicles. With the restoration of this stunning 54-year-old oddity that is the only one in the country, Toyota SA spent two years restoring the classic 1968 two-seater coupe back to it former glory.
The six-cylinder engine was dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up. It wasn’t in good shape after years of storage and exposure to the outdoors, with several rubber components leaking fluids and most of the coolant routes clogged with rust.
Toyota and Yamaha collaborated on the 2.0l straight-six engine, which produced 110kW and 175Nm of torque for a 0-100km/h sprint in 10 seconds and a top speed of 215km/h. Japan introduced the 2000 GT in 1967 as a response to sports cars like the Jaguar E-Type. As one of the rarest sports cars, only 351 were manufactured, helping it to attain respect in the classic-car industry, fetching up to R40 million at auctions for perfect specimens. As a result of its appearance in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, its provenance was further enhanced. Because Sean Connery’s size and the cabin’s small size, two convertible versions of the 2000 GT were commissioned for the film.
The exact model has its own narrative to tell, having been in existence for over half a century. According to manufacturer records, chassis number MF10-10207 was delivered in Thunder Silver. Toyota South Africa Motors purchased the model in its present red colour and is unaware of when it changed from its original paint job.
To retain the car’s authenticity and patina, many pieces were repaired rather than replaced, including the wood-trimmed grille and the “knock-on” locks on the wheels, which were badly battered up from years of use. The wooden steering wheel had a significant splinter that needed to be carefully repaired in order to keep its structural integrity.
Because the interior wood trim was brittle, it was difficult to restore. A seasoned radio repairman restored the old audio system, making the 1960s electronics work again. The project was led by father and son collaboration Wynand Strydom Sr and Wynand Strydom Jr from Generation Old School Benoni.
They disassembled the car using extensive literature from the archives, repairing and recreating parts to ensure authenticity. Now that the Toyota 2000 GT is finished, though Toyota has no plans to sell this restored rarity, TSAM intends to put the uncommon model on exhibit for the public as well as compete in the prestigious South African Concourse.