When I received an email from Toyota South Africa Motors inviting me to attend the reveal of a new vehicle, I simply began wondering what dependable, decently priced and inoffensive segment contender they are bringing to market. Nothing prepared me for the silhouette of their iconic 1960s debut sports car that dominated my screen. “Dress-code: Make James Bond proud.”

The Solar Red Toyota 2000GT, chassis number MF10-10207, is one of only three examples to officially land on Mzansi soil between 1968 and 1969 out of 351 produced in cooperation with Yamaha globally. It was found in a thoroughly used condition and acquired by Toyota South Africa Motors several years ago, after which it was promptly admitted to its private collection. An initiative to begin reproduction of Toyota heritage parts by GR spurred the decision to begin a ground up restoration of the car in 2020.

Work began by splitting the body and chassis and sending them to Dino’s Classic Restoration’s venerable hands. The paint was stripped, and every panel repaired, however as the repainting process loomed a dilemma presented itself – The Solar Red paint the car was found with was not original. Records revealed that this particular 2000GT left Yamaha’s Shizuoka factory painted in Thunder Silver.

Evidently, a comprehensive full body respray was carried out later in Mzansi, even details such as the gunmetal grey wing mirrors being accounted for to match Toyota’s factory colour combinations. The standard practice in such cases is to return the car to the state in which it left the factory to preserve its value – up to R40 million in the 2000GT’s case! However, an executive decision was made to retain 10207’s Solar Red, just as the majority of South Africans who were fortunate enough to experience this icon remember it.

Father and son team, Wynand Strydom Senior and Junior of Generation Old School continued work on the 2000GT. Liaising with Toyota SA Motors, 2000GT enthusiasts and restorers around the world, and local craftsmen and experts to salvage and restore as many of the car’s original components as possible. From the wooden steering wheel, original radio, to the magnesium alloy wheels, about 80% of the parts remain original. Where repair was not possible, every effort was made to remanufacture parts locally. The windscreen is one such item, where a custom mould that saw six iterations was crafted to form a perfectly fitting and reproducible 2000GT windscreen.

The heart of the 2000GT, a glorious 2.0-litre straight-6 with aluminium 2-valve double-overhead camshaft cylinder head was fully rebuilt by Wessels Motors, hopefully producing all its 110 carburetted kiloWatts. For context, this almost matches the 114kW power output of a 1999 Lexus IS200 a modern engine with 4-valves per cylinder, variable valve timing and electronic fuel injection!

After two years of arduous but thorough work, it was only appropriate that Toyota 2000GT MF10-10207’s first public appearance was made with the swagger befitting James Bond’s favourite car. The Westcliff Hotel’s terrace provided the perfect environment to gaze at the achingly gorgeous proportions, tasteful styling elements and not least of all, the exquisite craftsmanship of all the passionate men and women who brought this icon back to life.

A traditionally shrewd and austere manufacturer embracing its sexy past in such stylish fashion is surely a foreshadowing of an exciting future for the brand.

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