Shelby Racing And Toyota 2000GT
With the news of the passing of automotive legend Carroll Shelby, a little known fact might have been missed. Shelby played an integral role in bringing prestige to Toyota’s 2000GT.Carroll Shelby was fame came from many different automotive ventures, however, he is probably most known for his cars while at Ford. He helped develop several cars there including the Shelby Cobra and Mustang-based Shelby GT350, GT500. He also helped Dodge develop their Dodge Viper. His work on these cars brought him much fame and fortune. But, he was also a race car driver setting 16 U.S. and International speed records while also winning several races. He was even Sports Illustrated’s driver of the year in 1956 and 1957. His driving and the work he did with Ford grabbed a lot of attention from people including Toyota.
In the 1960′s Toyota was looking to build and race a high performance sports car. They ended up building the 2000GT which is known as the “first seriously collectible Japanese” super car according to Toyota. This car was so cool Motor Trend magazine at the the time called it “A fantastic engineering masterpiece on wheels, a magnificent manifestation of complete automotive ingenuity.”
The 2000GT design came from Toyota who partnered with Yamaha. Originally Nissan was going to build the car with Yamaha yet when Nissan backed out, Toyota jumped in.
Eager to see what it would do against other cars like Porsche and Corvette, Toyota contacted Shelby Racing Team, headed by Carroll Shelby. They signed a one-year contract in February of 1968 to enter the car in the C-Production SCCA racing circuit. Shelby would build three of the 2000GT cars for the competition. The 2000GT placed second to Porsche in the first race and won the Grand Prix in its third outing.
With his help and the fact it appeared in the 1967 James Bond movie “You Only Live Twice”, the 2000GT was on the map as a super car.
At its debut, the MSRP price was $2,000 higher than a Porsche or Corvette. Prices now for a fully restored version are between $100,000 to $150,000.
While Carroll Shelby’s legacy will be headlined with his work with Fords, his teams victories in the 2000GT will have a place there as well.
Filed Under: Auto News