Entries in 2000GT (3)


Pete Brock's JP6 Prototype: Toyota's stillborn Le Mans project

Reading this month's Vintage Racecar Magazine, I came across a fantastic period photo of a gorgeous low-slung GT car prototype. Its designer was Pete Brock, who penned the Shelby Daytona Coupe and was the originator of the Corvette Sting Ray.  Brock and his buddies Bruce Burness and Trevor Harris got together to design this car from the ground up for Toyota at their shop in California. This followed on the heels of Brock's successful work for Japanese maker Hino, which was then acquired by Toyota. By this point, Brock enjoyed a good reputation in Japan, which must be how he was commissioned to create the JP6.

The JP6 was to be Toyota's 2-Liter entry for Le Mans, using the inline six from the 2000GT as its powerplant (with view towards an eventual V8) and a diminutive spaceframe structure for the chassis. Development started in 1966, but was scuppered due to lack of funding by '67, and Toyota had the prototype shipped back to them where it presumably was scrapped or used as a testbed for other more promising projects. The car never turned a wheel in anger, but it certainly looked state of the art for the time, and was achingly beautiful. I have no idea what happened to the prototype, but I would certainly love to see it come out of the shadows if it does still exist.

Image credits: Automobile Magzine, top. Other images from Shin Yoshikawa's book on the 2000GT.

More info in French at 2000gt.net


JDM Heaven at Tokyo's Venus Fort

We don't talk a whole ton about Japanese cars here at Automobiliac. Not that I have anything against them, but I can count on the fingers of one hand (maybe two) the Japanese cars that get me really excited. Thankfully nearly all of them are on display in one place: The Venus Fort in Tokyo! Venus Fort may sound like a border town brothel where girls wear chaps and six-guns and little else, but it's also the name of an enormous outlet mall in Tokyo Bay that is situated in the former location of a battery that guarded the port from enemy ships. The mall itself is a rather cheap imitation of the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace, which is of course an expensive imitation of a Roman streetscape.  I started to question why my Japanese companion would bring me to such a place when there are so many fine malls in Tokyo.  My questions were soon answered when we rounded a corner to discover a Mazda Cosmo sitting there in all its low-slung glory. Now I had never thought much of the Cosmo from photos, but in person the car is so low and so sleek, it makes your jaw drop. It's spectacular --at once very vintage and incredibly fresh. The car has some American and some European motifs blended together very interestingly.  It's almost like an Alfa Duetto mated with a '63 Ford Thunderbird and had this surprisingly beautiful offspring.After admiring the Cosmo for a few precious minutes, we ventured further inside and discovered room after room of JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) cars that I had never seen before. It's always a treat for me to see and learn about cars I have no knowledge of so this trip was a real treat. In the back of the main room was the crown jewel of any Japanese car collection: a Toyota 2000GT. I don't think I had ever seen one of these amazing cars in person before either. With only 337 produced, they are rare as metric hens' teeth, so I spent quite some time admiring the car's exquisite proportions. I came away with my opinion cemented: The 2000 GT is the finest sports car Japan has ever produced and probably ever will. And given the astronomical prices they command these days, I think collectors agree with me.Also in the back of the museum is a shop for collectors called "Grease."  They carry a huge range of models in every scale, organized by country and by marque. There is also a wide array of literature in both English and Japanese. It was pretty overwhelming and I suddenly started feeling foreign money burning a hole in my pocket. To extinguish that fire I dropped some smoldering cash on a very cool book detailing the history of the 2000GT.Another section of the museum features American and European cars, but in this context, who cares, right? Downstairs there was some more JDM magic in the form of an original Nissan Skyline GTR sitting outside in the courtyard and looking very thuggishly hot. The GTR was accompanied by a Lotus Elan as well as a Le Mans Toyota racing car, which was shaped like a glossy red whale from outer space.  There was also a coffee shop downstairs inexplicably named after Alessandro Nannini.  The cafe was filled with F1 nosecones and other memorabilia, but the highlight was a glass vitrine through which you could look into the museum's restoration workshop. If anyone can identify the car on the left being worked on, I'd love to know what it is.Needless to say, the Venus Fort was a highlight of my trip. In addition to the museum, which I believe is owned by Toyota, there is also an immense Toyota experience space called the Mega Web, featuring all of the company's latest models. It's like a permanent auto show booth, and you can even test drive the cars on a closed trail outside the mall. Check out my whole gallery HERE. I apologize that some of the photos aren't up to my ideal artistic standards. The lighting in the museum is particularly bad for photography.


Automobiliac Video of the Week: Toyota 2000GT Speed Trial vintage footage

I probably should have posted this earlier for you to watch while you digested your turkey, but better late than never...

I always think of the Toyota 2000GT as a swingin' Grand Tourer with incredibly beautiful lines, but I had never really seen one race-prepped at full song before. Here is some wonderful vintage footage of Toyota's 72 hour speed trial at Yatabe test track, back in 1966. The music is hit or miss, and the editing could be a lot tighter (it's also entirely in Japanese), but there is some truly awesome footage with gorgeous composition in there that will reward close viewing of this 9 minute video. If you don't have time for the whole thing, I might suggest the dream-like night sequence starting at 3:01, and the mesmermizing clip starting at 7:04 which almost looks like a Wes Anderson film!

Crank up the speakers when the 2000GT wails by, looking almost like a Cobra Daytona Coupe on a fish and rice diet!  Click here for more info about this car, with photos!