Toyota 2000GT: The Rarest Bond Car

With rarity being a function of exclusivity, it is argued by some (including Daniel Craig) that the most desirable Bond car is not an Aston Martin, Bentley, Lotus or other British (or German) marque, but, in fact, a Japanese sports car - the Toyota 2000GT.

Toyota 700 advertisement (c.1964)

As Japan rebuilt its industrial base following the Second World War, the country developed a reputation for designing small, practical, inexpensive yet reliable vehicles, whilst serious sports car production was dominated by Europe and the United States. A turning point arrived in December 1964, when Toyota and Yamaha agreed to collaborate on a project to produce a car that would compete with the Jaguar E-Type and the recently introduced Porsche 911.

Toyota 2000GT unveiled (1965)

The result of the ambitious project was a sports car that achieved its objective. Whilst it may have taken styling cues from the Jaguar E-Type and Corvette Stingray, here was a vehicle that outdid both on performance and build quality. It certainly had sex appeal, but the challenge was brand image. When the car debuted at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, its price exceeded the E-Type and 911, but its badge didn't carry the same level of prestige, and consequently demand did not meet expectations. The snug interior and low roofline further limited the market, as it created driving problems for those who were not slim and under 5'10" tall.

Bond co-stars Toyota 2000GT and Akiko "Aki" Wakabayashi

In 1967, the status of both the 2000GT and the Toyota brand were elevated when the model was cast for the role of Bond Car in the 007 movie "You Only Live Twice". The film's director, Lewis Gilbert, had intended to use a Chevrolet Camaro for the car-chase scene, but his friend Sachio Fukuzawa, a factory racing driver for Toyota, convinced him that a Japanese car should be used for a film taking place in Japan.

Sean Connery meets the 2000GT in You Only Live Twice (1967)

The inspired decision to replace the Camaro with the 2000GT was made, but the cramped cockpit of the coupé couldn't accommodate Sean Connery's height and build, so a quick decision was made to remove the roof. Within two weeks, Toyota had made two open-top versions of the model for the film - the only pair to have been officially created from the total production of 351 cars built between 1967 and 1970.

Connery fits neatly into the customised Toyota

Thankfully, the removal of the roof of the 2000GT allowed Bond to make a quick and stylish getaway in the film, and in true Bond Car tradition, the vehicle was further enhanced with a number of gadgets to improve his chances of escaping those in pursuit.

What is a Bond Car without gadgetry?

Courtesy of another Japanese industrial giant, Sony, the Toyota was installed with a CCTV, a VCR, cameras behind the front number plate, two-way radios, voice-controlled tape recorder and an audio system, all neatly stowed behind the glove compartment's Rosewood door - finished by Yamaha's master piano craftsmen.

Most Japanese cars from the era have been long scrapped

Toyota, Yamaha and Sony produced a vehicle that could outrun and outwit Bond villains with ease. Although the 2000GT was marginally more expensive than a Jaguar E-Type at the time, it would've been a wise long-term investment, with prices now running at 10 times those of equivalent E-Types. So if you have a spare £1m lying around and would like to treat yourself to one of these iconic vehicles, then why not do it... after all, you only live twice.