Here at GrandJDM, we’re great fans of the Toyota 2000GT, which is pretty well covered in our past articles here and here. Japan’s very first high-end sports car, it has an aura that belies its production numbers of only a scant 337 examples worldwide.
Part of that aura comes from the fact that the 2000GT was one of the few non-British cars given the “hero” role in a James Bond movie.
Laced with typical Connery grit, You Only Live Twice is a fascinating movie for old school JDM aficionados because much of the movie takes place in 1965 Japan. The film is also cool for having the ultimate Bond villain, a bald Donald Pleasance in full Dr Evil mode, complete with white fluffy cat and a lair made out of a huge man made volcano. It’s best that no one mentions the “disguise” to make Connery look like a Japanese fisherman, but the real interest for GrandJDM readers will be the convertible 2000GT featured in the film.
The reasons why the 2000GT was chosen by the producers was simple. It was (arguably) the only high end Japanese car on sale at the time, and so Toyota was approached and they initially supplied a silver coupe for filming. But it was quickly realised that the low roofline and small window openings would mean that 6’2 Connery would not be very visible when the car was driving around.
And so Toyota converted two 2000GT prototypes into convertibles for the movie. One had a standard interior, and another had an interior with the usual Bond gadgets installed. After filming, one of the cars stayed in Japan (the one with the stock interior) and the other one with the Bond interior went to the UK for a promotional tour. After the tour, it was returned to Japan and lost forever. Although it is said that the car actually still exists, in the private collection of a senior Toyota executive…
By the way, the pic above is 007 and secret agent Aki getting away from the bad-guy Mr Osato’s HQ. This is actually the Hotel New Otani in Shinagawa Tokyo, it’s still open today, and is possibly one of the few Bond villian HQs that serves up a wicked club sandwich. The surviving film car went onto a colourful life in Japan, at one time it even acted as a pace car for Fuji circuit, but given its enourmous significance to Toyota, it has since been restored and is living a pampered existence in the Toyota museum.
There is one 2000GT convertible in the UK however, at the Cars of the Stars museum. This isn’t one of the original film cars, but is a replica that was made out of a basket case coupe. It even has the original 007 TV/radio console used in the film (below), which was found at Pinewood Studios and donated to the museum for the car. The bodywork took four weeks to construct, using a 007 toy car and pictures and measurements taken from the Toyota Museum car.
My name is Tanaka. My friends call me Tiger…..raaawrrrr
Of course, what is a GrandJDM article without Youtubes! Here’s the movie trailer for You Only Live Twice: