After the end of the Second World War, the Japanese government passed a series of laws to stimulate motorcycle and automotive production and get the country on wheels. Yamaha, one of the leading motorcycle manufacturers in the country, sought to move away from the saturated K-car market and focus on a legitimate, competitive sports car to rise up to more established European rivals.
Nissan had taken a keen interest in Yamaha’s engineering prowess, and collaborated with the firm on multiple component orders and a prototype for a European-style grand tourer, the A550X. Even though the car never moved to production, it became a fruitful design exercise, one that convinced Toyota —known for their slow, conservative saloons— to pursue a new collaboration with Yamaha in a revolutionary sports car project. Penned by Satoru Nozaki, the ground-breaking Toyota 2000GT became an overnight sensation: as it beat speed and endurance records in FIA races, it also became a genuine ‘Bond car’ in “You Only Live Twice” (1967). However, despite its exquisite build quality, technical sophistication —disc brakes and limited slip differential came standard for the first time in a Japanese car— and public acclaim, sales were slow, and for a reason: the 2000GT was $1,000 more expensive than the contemporary Jaguar E-Type and Porsche 911, and $2,500 more than a Corvette. With production limited to 351 units worldwide, the 2000GT’s rarity, pedigree, enduring design and agile performance make it the single most highly sought-after Japanese car ever built.