The Toyota 2000 GT is arguably the most coveted Japanese car on the planet. One of the 337 copies made will be auctioned in Paris on February 1. Belonging to the collection of the Degenève dealer group, it could fetch millions of euros.
In the world of collectors, Japanese cars have been slow to attract interest. But the Toyota 2000 GT has long held special status. She is indeed often regarded as the first truly prestigious sportswoman from the land of the Rising Sun. His appearance in the James Bond saga in 1967 for the film You only live twice also contributed to its aura. This did not prevent the model from being a commercial failure due to a price considered too high for a then unknown Japanese coat of arms. Only 337 copies would have been made between 1967 and 1970, in collaboration with Yamaha which is the origin of the project. Suffice it to say that you won’t see these for sale every day, a fortiori in France. However, the Toyota 2000 GT will be offered at auction in Paris on 1eh next February, at the same time as Rétromobile, after living for almost a decade in the Alps.
A birthday present from Japan
In fact, this is even the third copy belonging to the Degenève family, owners of a group of seven Toyota dealerships in southeastern France. The first two were bought by Jean-Pierre Degenève in the 1970s. “He bought these two cars second-hand. Back then they were at prices that could be described as cheap »recalls one of his sons, Jean-Marie, who is now head of the company. “One of them belongs to the singer Sheila, the gray card is in her name”, He added. These two sports cars unfortunately had to be sold later, which did not cause some regret for their former owner. So, to celebrate his 70e birthday, in the early 2010s, his sons had the idea to buy him a 2000 GT.
The profile of this Japanese sports car earned it many comparisons to the Jaguar E-Type, although it did not have the same success as its British rival.
Retractable headlights contribute to the aesthetic personality of this true rarity.
Intended for the Japanese market, this model has right-hand drive.
The 2000 GT was powered by an in-line six-cylinder, an architecture later adopted by the Supra line.
A gift they had to get from far away, because they brought it from Japan. “We are waiting for auctions to happen, which are rare. And when they are for auction they are expensive, very expensiveexplains Jean-Marie Degenève. But we contacted a former Japanese trainee and asked him if there were any 2000 GTs for sale on there websites. And in fact there were two or three, including this one, that we tracked down and bought in Japan. » For Jean-Pierre Degenève, the surprise was complete.
He was moved because he had not expected it and because he had always been saddened by the sale of the two previous ones, which had disappeared from the family collection, he remembered his son Jean-Marie.
Using a dropper
All these wonderful stories are told – in French besides – in a video published on the British site Petrolicious. But if the gift has little effect, it is used very sparingly. Since it arrived in France in 2013, this 2000 GT has only covered a thousand kilometers. This prompted the family to decide to sell it. Rolled out of the factory on July 26, 1967, the white right-hand drive example was one of the first produced. It still has Japanese plates, showing the evocative 20-00, while there is a French collection carte grise. No price estimate was provided by RM Sotheby’s, which is handling the sale. No need to expect to see the record of 2.3 million euros set last year by another 2000 GT broken. It corresponds to a rare racing version prepared by Carroll Shelby, the father of the AC Cobra. On the other hand, the latest transactions carried out at the auction can still suggest a value approaching the bar of one million euros.
One of three French Lexus LFAs for sale
Two other vehicles from the Degenève collection will be offered at the same sale, for the same reasons. Among them, there is another Japanese sports car, almost less rare than the 2000 GT and increasingly popular. It is indeed a Lexus LFA, produced in only 500 units in early 2010. Only three copies were delivered to France, and this is one of them. Known as one of the most beautiful engines ever created, its atmospheric V10 is the result of a partnership with Yamaha. Another point common to the 2000 GT. But this mechanism is not used very often, because the Lexus counter shows only 8,973 km. The rating of the model has increased recently, the hammer price of more than €500,000 is not surprising. The third vehicle, on the other hand, is completely different, as it is a 4 x 4 Land Cruiser FJ40 from 1978. After these auctions, the Degenève collection will be even richer. However, it still includes two rally Celica GTs from 1976… as well as three first-generation Honda NSXs! A kind of irony for a family that specializes in the distribution of the Toyota brand, but shows a passion for Japanese cars in the broadest sense.