Today’s nostalgic wednesday post is about a lovable, one off car featured in a very famous movie, and is still the only Japanese car to be in a starring role in any of the James Bond flicks. Today, it’s all about the Toyota 2000GT roadster.
Taken from QV500.com:
You Only Live Twice was the fifth James Bond movie. Based largely in Japan, Bond was once again played by Sean Connery and the plot for this latest adventure involved the terrorist organisation, SPECTRE, hijacking American and Soviet space capsules in a bid to start World War III for their clients, the Red Chinese. Although Bond wouldn’t do much driving in You Only Live Twice, Producer, Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli, had seen Toyota’s 2000 GT make its sensational debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1965. Broccoli thought a special equipment version would make an ideal machine for Bond’s accomplice, Aki (played by Akiko Wakabayashi).
An advanced two-seater sports coupe, the 2000 GT was powered by a dual overhead camshaft straight six engine with a displacement of two-litres. Boasting 150bhp and a five-speed gearbox, it could hit nearly 140mph and sprint from 0-60 in under nine seconds. Three Solex carburettors were fitted along with Dunlop disc brakes and a limited slip differential, the suspension having been independent all-round. In early 1966, Broccoli called Toyota with the offer of an appearance in You Only Live Twice, but there were a number of problems. Connery’s 6ft 2″ frame meant it was impossible for him to fit comfortably in the coupe and with the production company planning several scenes from inside the vehicle, a solution had to be found. As it turned out, the only way a 2000 GT was going to make it into the movie was if an open-top version could be manufactured. At the time, only a couple of Coupe prototypes had been built and production wouldn’t begin until May 1967. Toyota were still very enthusiastic though and despite having never considered a Roadster, managed to complete the order for a pair of cars within two frantic weeks. They were beautifully converted at Toyota’s special Toyopet Service Centre in Tsunashima, everything in front of the windscreen remaining practically unchanged.
By contrast, the rear bodywork was totally new, just the original back bumpers and taillights having been retained. Both examples were completed in White with Black cockpits. Each car was equipped with a set of wire wheels, neither having side windows or provision for a hood of any sort. One of the Roadster’s would be used for filming whilst the other would act as a back-up, the back-up car staying with Toyota in Japan when shooting in the Far East was over. It was equipped with a largely standard interior, the film car being fitted out with a variety of gadgets by John Stears and his renowned special-effects team from Pinewood Studios in England.
In the vacant area behind the two seats they fitted a voice-activated tape recorder, an FM receiver and a small colour CCTV screen for live communication and surveillance. In the glovebox was a VCR and cordless telephone, video camera’s being positioned behind the licence plates. After the action shots were taken in Japan, most of the close-cockpit footage was done back in Pinewood, but strangely, some in-car footage was done with an entirely different machine, probably a Sunbeam Alpine. The 2000 Roadster appeared in three scenes of You Only Live Twice, the first having been when Aki drove Bond to meet MI6-contact, Mr Henderson, after a meeting at a wrestling match. Then, after breaking into the safe of Osato Chemicals, Bond was rescued by Aki under a hail of gunfire. The final scene was the most enduring as, after arranging a meeting with Mr Osato, Aki again saved Bond and as they sped away, they were pursued by some of Osato’s henchmen in a black Toyota sedan. Aki radioed for assistance and the chasing car was eventually dumped into the sea by a helicopter with a large magnet! Made on a budget of $9.5m, You Only Live Twice premiered in June 1967 at the Leicester Square Odeon in London and went on to take $111.6m at the worldwide box office.
After the movie was completed, the gadget-equipped car taken to England mysteriously disappeared although its control panel later turned up on a Roadster-recreation in the Cars of the Stars Museum in Keswick. Meanwhile, the back-up car with its standard interior was used for promotional purposes and displayed at the Geneva Salon in March 1967. It was then re-painted blue and emblazoned with garish 007 decals. Another repaint followed, this time in grey, and it briefly served as the Fuji Speedway course car before later turning up in Hawaii in 1977. Toyota bought and restored it and this car now forms a central part of their factory museum.
Now imagine if 007 was driving the 2000GT today….
Pretty neat little car. If I shat out money, I’d definitely have one next to my Cannonball Starion. Hmmmm…