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2013 Detroit Auto Show: This solar-powered Toyota is walkin’ on sunshine

When the Toyota 2000GT first broke cover in 1967, it was absolutely groundbreaking. It was Japan’s first supercar, a masterpiece of understated elegance which would forever change the world’s opinion of Japanese cars, hitherto seen as cheap but efficient econoboxes. Only 351 were ever built, so when Chiba Toyopet unearthed an original ’67 model in a garage in Tokyo, he was pretty pleased with the find. The car was badly in need of restoration, but the restoration it received might not be quite what you’re expecting. The car was converted into an EV, utilizing a number of drivetrain components from a Lexus LS600h hybrid, with work done by the Toyota Automotive Lovers Association.

That’s interesting and all, but the kicker is that this car is actually solar powered. Panels on the hood and rear window charge the 40kW lithium-ion battery pack, and the output is 181 horsepower. Now, if you’re thinking that free charging for your EV from the sun is an amazing idea and can’t believe that it hasn’t been done before, just hold on a second. The reason why this option isn’t more popular is explained in the car’s almost hilariously long charging time of about two weeks for a full charge. You can charge it from a 240V charging station as well, and compared to the solar charging time, the 12 hours from the charging station sounds pretty reasonable. It is still pretty cool though, if a bit gimmicky.

For those worried that the conversion has negatively impacted the value of this incredibly valuable car (one sold at Pebble Beach last year for $647,000), not to worry. Mr. Toyopet also restored the original drivetrain along with the rest of the car, and can swap it back in whenever he feels like it. If you’d like to see the car, which has been dubbed the “2000GT Solar Electric Vehicle”, in all its solar glory, it is on display right now at the Detroit Auto Show.