From the 1967 June Issue of Road & Track
If the Toyota 2000GT is an impressive mechanical design on paper, and even if it looks pretty in the pictures, nothing quite prepares you for your first look at it. The pictures just don't do justice to it. The most striking thing not evident in the photos is the lowness of the thing, and it's amazing how a scale factor like that can modify the whole visual impression of a car. We've seen many cars that we thought would look better if they were scaled down; the 2000GT is one that is smaller than it looks in print.
Styling, however, isn't the car's strongest point—and according to the Toyota people it wasn't intended to be. Our styling experts found detail styling flaws and some unfortunate surface development; but none denied that the overall impression of the car is one of excitement and purpose. Confirmation of the latter conclusion is easy to obtain: one of our staff commented that his drive home to lunch one day was the first occasion on which he was ever followed by cars. He picked up 2 VWs, an MGB, 2 Ford pickups and one policeman in two 10-minute runs!
The designers, as pointed out in the preceding analysis, did all they could to make getting in or out easy. But let's face it; this is a 45.7-in.-high car. You want a low car, you settle for contortions. Once in you know it was worth the trouble: surrounded by impressive instrumentation, much padding and all that beautiful rosewood, and sitting so low you know you're in something special, you are sure it has to be good. The seat is adjustable for rake, but the more it's raked the more its fore-and-aft travel is limited by the structural member behind it. If you are of average American male height, you'll find yourself in a semi-reclining, but very comfortable, position; if you're the 99th man you may find it nearly impossible to fit yourself in.
A key-turn starts the engine, and it catches smoothly from the starter like a good "six" should. The engine likes to idle at 1200 rpm or so, but there is no mechanical clatter to be heard either at idle or out on the road. The soundproofing has really done a job here—but listening to the unit with the hood open (which also happens to be a delightful visual experience) reveals that the engine is mechanically quiet to begin with, particularly for one with chain-driven double over head cams.
The engine has no trouble getting the car going smoothly; 1st gear is perhaps a bit too great a reduction, and it's a big step from there to 2nd. The clutch engages smoothly and takes the abuse of repeated acceleration runs without any kind of protest, and it's a smooth, strong climb to peak engine speed—with the exception that the engine begins to miss at 7000 rpm, just past the yellow line. For some unknown reason, in 1st gear the missing would commence at about 6300 rpm; hence the rather early 1-2 shift point on the acceleration graph. The engine will pull smoothly but not strongly from idling speed in 4th gear and from about 1500 in 5th, but closed throttle at these speeds produces considerable bucking, which in turn induces gear rattle in the gearbox. The Toyota people assure us that this will be rectified by the time cars are offered for sale; our test car was the first production model to reach America and will not be sold.
The gearbox is quiet and generally smooth, and the ratios seem appropriate for the car with the possible exception of 1st; but shift efforts were so high on our test car that the engineering editor got a callus on his ring finger, and 2nd gear synchromesh was ineffective for speed shifts. Fifth gear emits a slight whine, not enough to bother any of us but reminding us that it is an indirect ratio. There was no noise of any kind from the final drive—some kind of feat in a car with that member mounted on the frame.
As a final note on the power unit, the exhaust note is beautiful, with a strong "rap" at 2800 rpm which intrudes on the low noise level and which Toyota plans to eliminate. It was great fun to go rapping past little old ladies in E-types, but it's probably wise of Toyota engineers to eliminate this, for it might get tiresome day in and day out.
When it comes to ride and handling, nobody in his right mind could need or want more in a road vehicle than the 2000GT has to offer. The low center of gravity and fairly high roll axis have allowed soft springs to be used without excessive roll, and this combined with good suspension travel available makes for a wonderful combination of ride and roadholding. We were skeptical at first about driving across city dips at undiminished speeds in such a low car, but we soon found that we could traverse these and other severe irregularities with verve and comfort. The body structure is rigid and quiet in general, but our test car had one bad rattle somewhere underneath, and its tailgate could not be adjusted to close tightly enough.
Cornering with the 2000GT is so easy and flat as to make the usual vigorous driving on smooth, winding roads almost dull. To get near its limits requires more nerve than most drivers have, and bumpy roads affect it so little as not to matter. Steering is light and quick with an overall ratio of 15.0:1; steering characteristics are neutral under all normal conditions. The mild rear weight bias (52%) is just enough to help out a little in case one wants to induce oversteer with the throttle. With the standard 165-15 Dunlop SP-41 tires, ab solute cornering power isn't spectacular—but, to repeat ourselves, it's all anyone needs on the road.
The excellence of the rear suspension made itself known on test day at the drag strip, too. We tried various engine speeds before the usual clutch-dump for getting off the line and found that regardless of technique the rear wheels simply spin, evenly and smoothly. As it turned out. we got best times by using 5000 rpm and engaging the clutch quickly but not brutally. An odd quirk, however, was that the car steered slightly to the right on even slight acceleration.
The 2000's brakes are equally impressive. Not only did they survive our 6-stop fade test with no measurable fade, but they also managed to pull speed down at the rate of 27 ft/sec/sec (0.84 g) from 80 mph. steadily and with no tendency toward wheel locking. The handbrake, an "L" handle coming out of the dash, held the car on our 30% test hill—a mild surprise because it works directly on the rear discs. Pedal efforts with the standard vacuum boost aren't unreasonably low, either. One criticism here: application of the brakes in reversing brings out an embarrassing squeal.
If the 2000 GT is an impressive car to drive, it's an equally impressive one in which to sit or ride—or simply to admire. One staff member could describe his feelings about the interior with only one word: overwhelming. The seats cradle you nicely and nobody who could actually fit into the car complained about them. But our Comfort Index ratings indicate that not everyone can fit. All interior details are in good taste and the finish of our car's interior was of the quality you'd expect in a luxurious GT. The steering wheel is adjust able telescopically, but in our test car pushing the wheel all the way in sounded the horn!—obviously a minor wiring problem. We don't know if the steering column of the test car would meet the new safety standards, however; but if not it will be changed by the time cars are for sale here.
The instruments are all white-on-black, well marked and steady. Main controls, including a manual choke and separate throttle, are in a row on a recessed panel below the two main dials; others, including heating, radio, antenna, fog lights and headlight retraction, are in the center console and still quite handy for the driver. Besides the normal electrically wound clock there is a rally clock with stop-start and reset buttons. The heating/ventilating system is similar to American practice with controls for fresh air, temperature, direction (feet or windshield) and 3-speed blower on the console. Swiveling nozzles are provided for the floor area and chin-level vents, the latter taking in fresh air independently of the heater. Directional signals are operated by a toggle switch on the dash and are, oddly enough, non-canceling.
Nothing fitted to our test car was an optional extra. The AM radio is standard and rather unusual: it has automatic signal seeking which is set into action by pushing the right- hand (volume) knob, after which push it proceeds from station to station, pausing about 10 sec at each one to give you a chance to decide whether you like the station or not. A second push on the knob stops the seeking. The radio is turned on by an upward push on the toggle switch that raises and lowers the electrically powered antenna at the rear. The left- hand button tunes by turning and adjusts tone by pushing— there are only two tones settings, strangely enough. Among other interior touches are an ashtray and lighter in each door.
Vision outward is good through the heavily wrapped-around windshield and ventless side windows; there was considerable distortion in the windshield of our test car, though, and instrument reflections in its upper half are bothersome at night. Vision to the rear is restricted; the combination of high rear spring towers (reducing the side windows) and a tailgate (reducing the rear window) conspire to claustrophobize, and the only solution is to use the standard fender mirrors.
Storage space is limited. The data panel shows 4.8 cu ft, and that figure is predicated on loading the space to the roof, eliminating rear vision through the rear window. The dash glove box is pretty large, and there's an additional small compartment in the rear floor. But the fact is that the two tourists in the Toyota will have to travel light.
Finish on the outside of our test car was just as pleasing as the interior. The true red paint job was excellent and all trim fit exactly as it should. Three nice touches on the exterior are the matt-finished inboard cases of the fender mirrors, the "aerodynamic" windshield wipers and the flat-finish window surrounds. The front end of the car seems to be a mass of re movable panels: there are four of them in all, the two top side ones coming off to give access to the release mechanism for the two side ones!
Miscellaneous observations: the car has Ford-type reversible keys (there is no upside down); the gas cap locks; bumper protection is minimal; nice tool kit; heated rear window comes on with heater blower switch; wipers leave blind spot on side opposite driver; no wind noise with windows closed but some buffeting with them open.
In conclusion, the Toyota 2000 GT is one of the most ex citing and enjoyable cars we've driven. At its price (estimated for now) it will be squared off with the Porsche 911-911S—and it's a worthy competitor for that excellent motor car as well as offering a combination of qualities distinctly its own. It's not as fast as either 911, but it is more luxurious, and its handling is of the front-engine variety. If you have $6000- to spend and like a judicious blend of sport and refinement, the Toyota 2000 GT will merit your serious consideration when it becomes available.