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 the fresh drop-top aesthetic. Investors love it for its reliability and aggressive driving style.
“This is the Japanese supercar,” said Jonathan Klinger, the lead spokesman for Hagerty, a firm that insures classic and collectable cars. “They were dramatically undervalued for a long time. Underappreciated. 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 up on the site for $999,500 last month; after several updates the sale recently ended, although the car is still for sale on the owner’s original listing.
It was one of the increasingly large number of would-be blue-chip cars eBay has started to list online. Sotheby’s sold one for $797,500 in Amelia Island, Florida, 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 sell for $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 significantly increased in value since Sotheby’s listed one for $650,000 in 2011. According to the Hagerty Price Guide, the standard version model is up 2.7 percent over the last 12 months, up 53 percent over the past three years, and up 170 percent over the past five.
The Hagerty Price Guide values a good-condition example of the 2000GT with a 2-liter engine at $940,000; it values the 2.3-liter engine version at $1 million. (Toyota made only nine examples with that larger engine.)
Toyota released the car to compete with the European cars of the time like the E-Type Jaguar, the Aston Martin GTs, and the racing Ferraris, which were roundly considered the most beautiful in the world.
At the time, the idea of an Asia-made supercar was foreign to the industry. In fact, Toyota built only 351 regular production units (including the nine 2.3-liter engine models) — a low volume purposefully kept down in order to mirror the well-known exclusivity of European whips.
The 2000GT, though, was a little different from those: It came with a rare five-speed manual transmission on a 150-horsepower, straight-six engine based on the then-high-end Toyota Crown sedan. Top speed was 135 mph (217 kph).
Albrecht Goertz, who later created the Nissan Fairlady (aka 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 with left-hand drive (the one selling on eBay is such an example) — an important concession to global drivers, since Japanese vehicles come with steering wheels installed on the right.
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 it as “the most collectible, desirable, and valuable Japanese automobile ever produced.” That, in addition to the fact that the 2000GT sold for an exorbitant price for its time. The 2000GT quickly became the first seriously collectible car ever from Japan.
The 2000GT remained under-valued until recently because it has less of a racing pedigree than the wildly popular Ferraris, Jaguars and Aston Martins it was meant to compete with — and because it really hasn’t been marketed as hard as the others. Although, 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, the values started to rise as well. Better adjust your eBay sale alerts accordingly.