No ordinary Camry: 1967 Toyota 2000GT sells for $1.16 million at auction

Toyota 2000GT front three quarterWould you pay nearly $1.2 million for a Toyota?

Someone at RM Auctions did, setting an auction sale record for a car from an Asian manufacturer. However, this wasn’t your grandmother’s Camry.

This pale yellow coupe is a 1967 2000GT, Toyota’s first sports car and the great-grandparent of the 560 horsepower, $388,475 Lexus LFA.

If a supercar from the company known for the dowdy Camry and Lexus RX seems like a stretch today, imagine what it was like in 1965, when Toyota unveiled the 2000GT at the Tokyo Motor Show, surrounded by cars that pretty much were toys in comparison.

Nothing like the 2000GT had ever come out of Japan, whose cars had the reputation Korean cars of the 1980s and 1990s had: basic, cheap and maybe a bit suspect.

Taking a quantum leap forward, Toyota married a sleek body (that bore more than a passing resemblance to the Jaguar E-Type) with a 150 hp, Yamaha-designed 2.0-liter straight six and then-innovative features like disc brakes and rack-and-pinion steering.

A roadster version also starred in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice.

The 2000GT had a reported top speed of over 135 mph (pretty good for the ‘60s) and, like any good supercar, it was as exclusive as it was fast.

Only 351 2000GTs were built, costing approximately $7,250 each. A period Jaguar E-Type stickered for $5,580.

On top of that, the 2000GT sold at RM was one of just 62 left-hand drive versions made. Rarity is a great way to drive up a collector car’s selling price, but this 2000GT’s selling price is still surprising.

There are many 1960s Japanese cars that can be called “collectable,” but they don’t usually attract the same insane bids as vintage contemporaries from the United States or Europe.

1967 Toyota 2000GT rear three quarterIn addition to the 2000GT, there are the many early generations of Nissan Skyline GT-R, as well as the Cosmo, Mazda’s first rotary-powered sports car. They’re all great cars, but they don’t inspire the same passion as a pristine Yenko Camaro or Austin Healey 3000.

Just as when they were new, vintage Japanese cars have had to play some catch-up in the collector arena. Now that a Toyota 2000GT has sold for the price of a small country, it seems they’ve caught up.

Toyota could also learn something from this car. In the time it’s taken for the 2000GT to go from new car to collector car, Japan’s largest carmaker has, in a way, stayed put.

When Toyota unveiled the Lexus LFA, it was just as unbelievable as the 2000GT. This time, the company’s technical expertise wasn’t in question, but its will to push the limits of that expertise was. Today’s Toyota doesn’t have to take risks, so it doesn’t.

That wasn’t the case in 1965, and Toyota is better for it.

Mobile

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.
Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.
Cars

Pininfarina Battista is a 1,900-horsepower, 250-mph electric supercar

The Pininfarina Battista will be the first production car from famed Italian design firm Pininfarina. Named after company founder Battista Pininfarina, it has a claimed 1,900 horsepower and a $2.5 million price tag.
Cars

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.
Cars

Allegro.ai is helping Hyundai mine the artificial intelligence gold rush

In November 2018, Hyundai invested in a startup named Allegro.ai. We talked to the company's founder to learn more about what that means for consumers in the not-too-distant futures.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Cars

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Cars

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.