Shelby-tuned Toyota 2000GT sets an auction record for Japanese cars

by Conner Golden
9 March 2022 3 min read
Shelby-tuned Toyota 2000GT sets an auction record for Japanese cars
Photos: Matt Tierney

A Toyota 2000GT tuned by Carroll Shelby has set a record for the most expensive Japanese car sold at auction. Just three months after we cast our prediction that a Japanese car would sell at or more than $2 million at auction sometime in the new year, Gooding & Company unloaded a 2000GT race car for a blockbusting $2.53 million at Amelia Island. A Toyota? For Ferrari F40 money? You bet.

Actually, this isn’t F40 money – it’s even more cash than that. The 2000GT’s $2.53 million – £1.93m – could have bought you an F40 at the same sale and had enough left over for plenty of super unleaded, tyres, at least one major service, and perhaps a nice Ferrari-branded jacket; Gooding also sold a 1991 Ferrari F40 at Amelia, for $2.45m, £1.87m.

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Admittedly, this was no ordinary example of the extraordinary 2000GT. Keen to raise its profile in North America, Toyota commissioned Carroll Shelby to build a trio of cars to compete in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) race meetings. Shelby’s work concentrated on increasing power and extracting the full potential of the suspension and tyres, and the race cars were said to develop around 200bhp, a third more than that of the road cars. While the 2000GT failed to lift an SCCA title, it was still plenty competitive, taking several race wins during the 1968 championship.

The auction result is a resounding auction record for both Toyota and Japanese cars in general, but this sale still proves Japanese cars have quite a distance to go if collectors hope to regularly break into the top ten most expensive sales. After the final gavel strike, the 2000GT occupied the fourth spot on Gooding’s leaderboard, behind the 1937 Talbot-Lago T150 “Teardrop” ($13.42 / £10.07 million), 1959 Porsche 718 RSK ($2.975 / £2.26 million), and 1954 Bentley R-Type Continental ($2.975 / £2.26 million).

The Toyota trails some serious blue-chip icons, but let’s not overlook the calibre of collectable cars it leaves in the financial dust. At the same sale, the 2000GT beat out a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT ($2m / £1.5m), a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS ($2.1m / £1.6m), a 1959 BMW 507 ($2.15m / £1.64m), and a 1965 Porsche 904/6 ($2.20m / £1.68m). That’s just for Gooding; the sale price puts the Toyota 2000GT at the number ten spot for the entire three-day auction.

Impressive, but don’t expect to see 2000GTs reach the same stratospheric value in the near future. This is very much an outlier sale, considering this is the first 2000GT to carry a serialised number and serves as a genuine slice of Carroll Shelby’s history. That, and the lucky duck who cast the winning bid also won themselves an open ticket to some of the world’s pre-eminent historic racing and concours events in the world.

Toyota 2000GT

Even so, a record’s a record. Now, we’ve come full-circle; it’s been nine years since a different 2000GT became the first seven-figure Japanese classic to sell at auction, and five years since the Japanese car record was set by Gooding at Amelia. Prior to this week’s sale, the record stood with the $1.75m, 1989 Mazda 767B sold here in 2017.

So, when might we witness a Japanese classic first reach $3m (£2.28m)? We reckon you might have to wait a while; there just aren’t many Japanese cars capable of pulling in that kind of cash – yet. Keep an eye on future auction dockets for ultra-rare stuff, like one of the 2000GT drop-tops from You Only Live Twice, or a tremendously special Nissan Skyline such as the R34 GT-R Z-Tune.

Via Hagerty US

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