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The most important Toyota 2000GT comes up for sale

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Coming up at Gooding & Co’s auction in Amelia Island, Florida on March 4th is this Shelby-prepped 1968 Toyota 2000GT. Not only is it one of just three existing Shelby 2000GTs, it is also the very first production chassis of the famous Toyota coupé.

In 1967, Carroll Shelby still had his plate full with Ford and the GT40s at Le Mans, when the message came that Ford was pulling the plug on the Shelby operation. After all, what was left to prove? They had won Le Mans, twice. Shelby had given them a good commercial program with different performance versions of the Mustang. It was done, the story was written.

Photo Gooding & Company / Josh Hway.

Peter Brock

Whilst looking for other opportunities, Shelby took on a Toyota dealership. Asking if a sports program was something that could interest Toyota, he received a bit of news. Yes, in fact Toyota was thinking of going racing in the US, but the program was headed BRE’s way, the race team old Shelby faithful and father of the Daytona Coupé Peter Brock had started. Shelby was quick to move and managed to snatch the contract away under Brock’s nose.

With 500,000 dollars to spend, the deal was of course vital for Shelby. Toyota wanted to see the 2000GT compete in the SCCA championship in the US, in the C Production class in 1968. The 2000GT had shown promise in domestic racing in Japan, and Toyota was eager to build on that success in the US.

Photo Gooding & Company / Josh Hway.

Last-minute rule change

In 1967, Shelby received three 2000GTs, of which one was chassis 10001, said to be the very first production Toyota 2000GT. With those, Shelby went testing and searching for improvements. The program was handled by Lew Spencer, Rich Erickson and Phil Remington, with Ronnie Bucknum first and later Davey Jordan behind the wheel. Initial testing went well, Goodyear stepping in with low-profile tyres for the Toyota.

Photo Gooding & Company / Josh Hway.

It could have been a fairy-tale, if a last minute rule change had not forced Shelby to switch from Weber carburettors to Solex carbs. All in all, the two Toyota’s showed promising results in their first season in 1968, but they lacked the horsepower to beat the Porsche 911s. In the end, they finished the championship third and fourth. Toyota considered it a humiliation, they had expected a walk-over. Subsequently, the program was cancelled. The Shelby Toyota’s only ran for one year.

See Also

Photo Toyota

3.5 million dollars

The road-going Toyota 2000GT by now has crashed the 1 million dollar barrier. So, no wonder this one is estimated between 2.75 and 3.5 million dollars (2.4 – 3 million euros). It has been with the same owner since the 1980s and has been restored by the owner over the course of ten years. More info on the auction will follow here.

If you want to read another interesting article on the Shelby Toyota 2000GT, it’s here. And finally, don’t feel too bad about Peter Brock. After the deal with Toyota was called off, he contacted Datsun. It was the start of another legendary adventure.

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