Here's What Happened To James Bond's Toyota 2000GT From 'You Only Live Twice'

The James Bond movie franchise is well-acclaimed for the heroics and irresistible British charm of Agent 007, but at the same time, movie fans and auto enthusiasts were always looking forward to the next Bond car. James Bond will forever be associated with the Aston Martin DB5 from "Goldfinger" and the Lotus Esprit car-that-turns-into-a-freaking-submarine in "The Spy Who Loved Me." However, franchise producer Albert R. Broccoli found it hard to resist the star of the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, the Toyota 2000GT. He saw it fit to appear with Sean Connery in the fifth Bond installment, "You Only Live Twice," and the rest is history.

The Toyota 2000GT is not the Japanese automaker's first attempt at building a world-beating sports car. That credit goes to the Sports 800, a two-door coupe equipped with a 790cc motorcycle engine with up to 45 horsepower. Manufactured from 1965 to 1969, the Toyota Sports 800 was a preview of what was to come from what is perhaps the most conservative carmaker in the world.

Toyota 2000GT: Racing DNA

In the early 1960s, Japanese vehicles were more renowned for practicality and fuel economy than pedal-to-the-metal performance. According to Toyota UK Magazine, Japanese motorists demanded local carmakers make genuine high-performance vehicles after the Japanese Grand Prix races in 1963 and 1964. Toyota responded with the first Toyota 2000GT prototype in cooperation with Yamaha Motor Co., and it became Toyota's first-ever supercar or grand touring coupe to compete with elite machines like the Jaguar E-Type, Maserati 3500 GT, and the Mercedes-Benz 300SL, to name a few.

However, Toyota wasn't ready to mass-produce the 2000GT despite getting inundated by orders from wealthy clients. It wasn't until 1967 that Toyota unveiled the first production 2000GT to the Japanese domestic market. The two-year development period gave Toyota and Yamaha engineers the leverage to hone the car's performance and reliability, and they did it the old-fashioned way: by racing.

The Toyota 2000GT won its first race at the first-ever Suzuka 1,000 Kilometers in 1966, and it won the 24 Hours of Fuji in 1967. Its crowning glory happened at the 72-Hour Yatabe High Speed Testing Course in 1966. It broke three world records and set no less than 13 new international speed and endurance records after averaging 128.76 mph around the circuit's banked, oval racetrack (per Toyota UK). The 2000GT has a Yamaha-tuned 2.0-liter straight-six engine taken from that of the Toyota Crown, but nine production variants came with a larger yet less potent 2.3-liter.

If looks could kill

The Toyota 2000GT's svelte body shape has a low and striking silhouette with pop-up headlights and a pair of round driving lights flanking a Sports 800-inspired front grille. Toyota only made 351 units of the 2000GT from 1967 to 1970, all of which were hardtop coupes. But for the James Bond Movie "You Only Live Twice," Toyota had to supply a pair of bespoke convertible variants after the production crew discovered that six-foot-tall Sean Connery wouldn't fit inside the car. In addition, the vehicle's tiny cabin made it challenging to shoot action scenes from the driver's perspective (per Toyota UK).

Toyota quickly made two roadster variants of the 2000GT for "You Only Live Twice." Those vehicles remain the only convertible variants of 2000GT explicitly made by the company. The initial coupe models to be used in the film are now in Japan after staying in the hands of a private UK collector until 1995, but the stories of the convertibles are shrouded in mystery. One of the cars was reportedly derelict after a crash, but rumors say it's now in the hands of a private buyer. However, the second 2000GT roadster is now in Japan and restored to its former glory after languishing in Hawaii until 1977.

The Toyota 2000GT is now one of the most collectible vintage Toyota cars. In 1968, legendary racecar driver and auto builder Carroll Shelby received three 2000GTs from Toyota. He entered two cars to compete in the 1968 SCCA championships, the only season that Toyota's 2000GT saw action in the United States racing circuit. In March 2022, the first Toyota-Shelby 2000GT sold at auction for a whopping $2.5 million.