The Toyota 2000GT is a $1m Japanese supercar James Bond loves

Daniel Craig’s favorite Bond car isn’t an Aston Martin. It’s a Toyota.

Craig famously said he loved the Toyota 2000GT Sean Connery drove in You Only Live Twice for its long, coke-bottle shape and fresh, drop-top aesthetic. Investors love it for its reliability and aggressive driving style.

“This is the Japanese supercar,” said Jonathan Klinger, lead spokesman for Hagerty, a firm that covers classic and collectable cars. “They were dramatically undervalued for a long time. Under-appreciated. But they first started coming alive four or five years ago, and they’re a great investment.”

EBay put a 1967 2000GT painted in “Solar Red” on the site for $999,500 last month; after several updates, that sale ended yesterday, although the car is still for sale on the owner’s original listing. It’s one of an increasingly large number of would-be blue chip cars that EBay has started to list online. RM Sotheby’s sold one for $797,500 in Amelia Island earlier this month. A Keno Brothers sale in New York last November saw one go for $683,200; the Mecum Monterey auction last year saw a perfect example draw $1,017,500. All this for a car that cost $6,800 ($51,550 in today’s dollars) when it was released in 1965.

“They’re sought-after for many of the same reasons as the E-Type and the DB5,” Klinger said. “They’re all great driving GT cars; this just happens to be the Japanese version of that. And now every major auction these days will have one.”

In fact, the 2000GT has increased its value significantly since Sotheby’s listed one for $650,000 in 2011. According to the Hagerty Price Guide, the standard version model has risen in value by 2.7 percent over the last 12 months, 53 percent over the last three  years, and 170 percent over the last 5 years.

Current Hagerty Price Guide values a good-condition example of the 2000GT with a 2L engine at $940,000; it values the 2.3L engine version at $1 million. (Toyota made only nine examples with that larger engine.)

The Japanese Revelation

Toyota released the car to compete with such European cars of the time as the Jaguar E-Type, the Aston Martin GTs, and the racing Ferraris, which were roundly considered the world’s most beautiful. The idea of an Asia-made supercar was then foreign to the industry. In fact, Toyota built only 351 regular production units (including the nine 2.3L engine models)—a low volume purposefully kept down in order to mirror the well-known exclusivity of European whips.

 

The 2000GT was a little different from those: It came with a rare, five-speed manual transmission on a 150-horsepower, straight-six-cylinder engine that was based on the then-high-end Toyota Crown sedan. Top speed was 135 miles per hour.

Albrecht Goertz, who later created the Nissan Fairlady (aka the Datsun 240Z) designed it; the aluminum body, pop-up headlights, and hardtop were hand-built by Yamaha technicians. Most came in red or ivory. About 60 of them came with left-hand drive (the one selling on EBay is such an example), an important concession to global drivers because Japan uses steering wheels placed on the right side of the car.

When the company first displayed the car to the public at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1965, it was heralded as a turning point in classic Japanese automotive design. Sotheby’s defines the vehicle as “the most collectible, desirable, and valuable Japanese automobile ever produced.” The 2000GT sold for an exorbitant price for its time and quickly became the first Japanese-produced car taken seriously by collectors.

Undercover Popularity 

The 2000GT remained undervalued until recently because it had less of a racing pedigree than those wildly popular Ferraris, Jaguars, and Aston Martins it was meant to compete with—and because it hasn’t been marketed as intently. As with all things, savvy collectors eventually took notice.

“It comes down to what is a vehicle’s racing heritage? That’s what drives a lot of the interesting collectability, on top of being attractive and great driving cars,” Klinger said. “This model has all of that, so when other vehicles were being priced out of certain users’ price range, this became an attractive alternative.”

Naturally, values started to rise as well. Better adjust your EBay sale alerts accordingly.

 – Bloomberg