What a wonderful use of company resources!
Toyota South Africa Motors is officially doing an extremely thorough restoration of a Toyota 2000GT, which arguably is the first Japanese supercar. If you’ve never seen one of these beautiful creations in person, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. The 2000GT was a work of art, perhaps the most aesthetically-pleasing Toyota ever made (some might say that’s the MKIV Supra). That Toyota South Africa would spend valuable company resources to bring the car back to its fully glory is absolutely wonderful.
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Chassis MF10-10207 has been in the possession of Toyota South Africa Motors for years, but the powers-that-be finally decided to move forward with making the car beautiful again. What helped with that decision was the announcement by Toyota Gazoo Racing that it would start producing replacement parts for the 2000GT under its GR Heritage Parts Project.
This isn’t going to be a quick restoration process, as the father-son duo hired to do the work is taking time to get every detail perfect. For example, they’ve had to carefully remove the thin, brittle wood trim pieces in the cramped interior, a process which has been painstakingly slow. Wires stowed behind panels are brittle to the touch. A special preparation process is necessary before painting the magnesium alloy wheels their original factory color. The process started in 2020 and likely won’t be complete for some time.
There are several mysteries surrounding this classic Toyota sports car. One of the first is the fact it’s painted Solar Red now, but several sources say it was originally Thunder Silver. Other sources claim Chassis MF10-10207 was actually Pegasus White from the factory. Figuring out the truth requires some sleuthing skills and time. Plus, some people favor Solar Red, so should they stray from originality for a sportier presentation?
Making this restoration project all the more amazing is the fact this is 1 of just 3 Toyota 2000GTs designated for the South African market. In a way, restoring the car is about national pride, so many people in the country are following the process closely. Toyota South Africa Motors has produced a shirt commemorating the restoration and plans to release more related products.
Originally, the intent of building the Toyota 2000GT was to demonstrate that Toyota and Japanese cars in general could rival European and American models when it came not only to reliability but also build quality and performance. Most people associated the brand with affordable, fuel-efficient hatchbacks as well as boxy, rugged off-roaders, so the sexy sports car was about shifting preconceived notions. From the time it was first revealed at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show it did just that, both on the road and on the movie screen as even James Bond got in on the action.
To be honest, the Toyota 2000GT wasn’t such a match for the likes of the C2 Corvettes, Jaguar E-Types, and other competitors on the track. However, it did exceed many people’s expectations of what a Japanese sports car could do, opening the door to more performance vehicles from the island nation. Even Carroll Shelby was convinced as he entered 2 modified versions of the sports car in the 1968 SCCA production car series.
Today, Toyota 2000GTs command high prices. The sports car was only made for 3 model years and in limited quantities totaling just 351 units. While rarity doesn’t always guarantee desirability, in this case it certainly does. We’re definitely interested to see how this restoration project turns out.