Test Drive Classic: 1967 2000GT

We get up close with perhaps the most iconic Toyota sports car ever made
 

September 26, 2017
The Bond Car -- Zinn owns 11 2000GTs, including a replica of the convertible model James Bond made famous in You Only Live Twice. The iconic two-seat sports coupes are stored in his toy room, which holds about 60 exotic sports cars. Photo by Downtown Photo


Editor's Note: To watch Test Drive Classic: 1967 2000GT, click here.

Craig Zinn remembers the first time he laid eyes on the Toyota 2000GT. He was 10. It was 1967, two years after the two-seat sports coupe debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show, and he was awestruck.
 
“It was the most beautiful car,” says Zinn of Craig Zinn Automotive Group, which includes Toyota of Hollywood in Florida. “When you closed the door on the 2000GT, it was like a finely made watch, it clicked perfectly. I remember thinking as a kid how much better built it was than anything else out there.”
 
Fast forward to 2017. The 2000GT is celebrating its 50th anniversary and with a limited quantity in play – only 351 were built – they’re like Fabergé eggs, rarely traded and selling for upwards of $1 million.
 
Zinn owns 11, including a replica of the convertible model James Bond made famous in You Only Live Twice. Zinn also is responsible for two other 2000GTs owned by his brothers. His favorite: a Bellatrix Yellow coupe gifted in 1979 by his father, Dave, owner of the first Toyota dealership in Florida.
 
The exotic sports cars are stored in Zinn’s “toy room” next to classic Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, Ferraris and Jaguars. The collection is 60 vehicles deep and they’re not just for show.
 
Zinn regularly drives his toys, maintains mile logs, conditions them and is constantly tinkering.
 
“The key is they cannot sit, they must be driven,” he says.

A Man in Love -- Zinn had the honor of driving his Carroll Shelby 2000GT race car in Japan last summer during 50th anniversary festivities for the car. Photo by Koichi Shinohara


'Perfect Sports Car'

Over the last 25 years, Zinn’s amassed thousands of 2000GT parts plus spare engines, ignition and braking systems. The interiors remain beautifully intact, with an all-wood dashboard, steeling wheel gear shift and center console, and accents.
 
Zinn and his 2000GTs are regulars at vintage track events, which are mostly designed for exhibition laps, but he’s not afraid to open it up a little.
 
“Everybody is amazed that I thrash my cars a bit, but they’re meant to be driven that way,” he says. “I love driving the hell out of them. With 6000 rpms, it’s the most incredible sound you’ve ever heard.”
 
This summer he shipped his special edition Carroll Shelby 2000GT race car to Japan to participate in 50th anniversary festivities held at the Yamaha Test Course. Toyota designed the 2000GT in collaboration with Yamaha.
 
“What an honor it was to be invited as the 2000GT American representative,” Zinn says. “It goes back to my love for the product. It’s the perfect sports car. It’s just beautiful and fun to drive.”
 
 By Karen Nielsen
 
 

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