Simanaitis Says

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MY TOYOTA 2000GT SALON; JAMES BOND’S TOPLESS VERSION

THE FINE BRITISH Classic & Sports Cas magazine, October 2021, features the “Greatest Bond Cars,” and its. mention of the customized Toyota 2000GT from You Only Live Twice jogs my memory. 

First, I thought, gee, I’ve driven the coupe version of that car. Then, I dug out the R&T May 2000 Salon feature on the 2000GT, and guess who its author is.

Excuse the distorted scans; R&T’s bound volume of 2000 is particularly thick and refuses to lay flat. (We used to have “tear copies” of single issues for such purposes.)

Here are tidbits gleaned from this R&T Salon and from the October 2021 issue of Classic & Sports Car (where two other relevant items caught my eye).

A Katsura Car. The 2000GT, I enthused, was “Most definitely a Katsura car.” As noted here at SimanaitisSays, the Japanese aesthetic embraces elegance ranging from highly complex ornamentation to utterly simple displays of rock formations amidst artfully contoured pebbles. 

I likened styling of the 1967 Toyota 2000GT to Katsura Rikyu, a 17th-century residence near Kyoto that’s “timeless enough to be a Mondrian painting.”

Photographer Guy Spangenberg chose the Japanese Friendship Garden at San Diego’s Balboa Park as an appropriate photo locale.  

“The 2000GT,” I wrote, “remains a fascinating example of styling and technical execution. I particularly like its rear three-quarter, where the razor edge of the flank continues aft to form a little lip at the hatch. The recessed quarter-panel lights, an Art Deco fuel filler cap and those minimal bumperettes are just enough added detail to make for a reasonably harmonious whole. I’d have omitted the taillight cluster’s chrome panels, however.” 

Geez, everyone’s a critic.

Driving the Car. The 2000GT is “only 46.7 in. high (cf. a 911’s 52.0). The car’s amply sized doors help, however. Once within, it’s cozy, perhaps to an extreme for those taller than 6 ft.”

I’m just a skosh less than this.

“The cockpit is extremely well finished,” R&T er… I wrote, “with broad (and long-cushioned seats separated by the chassis backbone’s thick spike. The dashboard and center console are paneled in beautifully finished rosewood (recall the Yamaha piano connection), with a particularly full set of instruments.”

Yamaha, renowned for its motorcycles and pianos, handled limited production for Toyota: A grand total of 346 2000GTs were built in 1966–1967.

“I enjoyed spirited driving along Sunrise Highway in the Cleveland National Forest,” I wrote. “The 2000GT’s forte is in its exemplary blend of ride and handling. From the car’s brochure: ‘This is not a stark sports car, but a luxuriously comfortable Grand Tourer.’ ” 

The Topless Bond 2000GT (Actually, a Pair). Julian Balme recounts in C&SC, “The 2000GT Coupé made its debut at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, and although it was a great-looking car for the Japan-set Bond caper [You Only Life Twice], the cabin was judged too small for Sean Connery’s 6ft 2in frame.”

This and the following images from Classic & Sports Car, October 2021.

“The car,” Balme continues, “was required for three key scenes, including the infamous disposal of the villains with a magnet lowered from a helicopter, so, just two weeks before shooting was expected to commence, the decision was made to remove the roof from not one but two of the cars. There was no provision made for a roof and the doors lacked glass or winding gear.”

The infamous magnet scene from You Only Live Twice. A Toyopet Crown is about to get a lift.

The Toyota/Shelby 2000GT. Mentioned in the R&T Salon and detailed in a C&SC ad, the 1967 Toyota/Shelby 2000GT is termed “The Beginning of Toyota Motor Sports.”

The car offered carries VIN MF10-10001, the first VIN’d 2000GT. As I noted back in the R&T Salon, “Shelby campaigned two C-Production 2000GTs in the Sports Car Club of America’s Southern Pacific Division. Scooter Patrick and Dave Jordan became increasingly competitive over the season, even posting several 1–2 finishes.” Twas the year of Porsche 911S dominance, though, and Porsche outpointed Toyota in Division standings.

Diversity. And just to show the diversity of C&SC coverage in October 2021, there’s an “Intrepid Moke Adventure” mention: “The green hills of Shropshire welcomed 30 Mini Mokes from the Mini Moke Club for its National Rally on 17–18 July.”

C&SC continued, “Cars from around the UK took in green-laning and road routes, plus a stop at the Severn Valley Railway Museum and other area highlights, in brilliant sunshine for the first event in more than a year.” 

What fun! ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021

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