One of the world's most coveted Japanese sports cars, the 2000GT, has broken records at past auctions.
- shares

Not all Japanese sports cars fetch huge sums of money on the classic car market, but Toyota's 2000GT is one that does.

The result of a partnership between Yamaha and Toyota (after Nissan passed on the project), the 2000GT marked Toyota's first venture into the world of sports cars, but only 351 units were ever built from its production debut in 1967 to its 1970 conclusion.

Now, one of those units is coming up for auction via RM Sotheby's in Elkhart, Indiana, on May 1-2, 2020.

Made even more desirable by the fact it was one of only 62 left-hand drive 2000GTs sold in America, this particular car from 1967 was owned by American race car driver Otto Linten for 30 years.

Restored in its original shade of Solar Red, the 2000GT is billed as a "superb example" of what is often regarded as the most beautiful car to ever emerge from Japan, thanks to its distinctive proportions, which borrowed from the Jaguar E-Type.

Image: Darin Schnabel/RM Sotheby's

Although unconfirmed, it's believed revered BMW designer Albrecht von Goertz was involved in the early stages of designing the 2000GT, which has a 2.0-litre straight-six engine, five-speed manual gearbox, and manages a 0-100km/h sprint time of 10 seconds.

While Japanese sports cars have been identified by experts as emerging classics, it's rare for them to fetch anything close to the $1 million mark.

However, in 2013 a yellow 2000GT broke records when it sold for close to US$1.2 million at auction, making it the most expensive Asian car ever sold at the time.

Even back when it first launched in 1967, the 2000GT was the most expensive on the Japanese market, priced at ¥2.38 million (around AU$120,000 today).

It was sold in the US for the similarly steep price of between US$6800 and US$7200, resulting in slow sales.

Image: Darin Schnabel/RM Sotheby's

Given this example is currently listed with no reserve, it's hard to predict what kind of bids it could attract.

Most recently, however, a white Japanese-market version sold from 1969 sold for ¥88 million, or AU$1.19 million dollars, in September 2019.

In early February 2019, another Japanese sports car, an original Datsun 240Z, sold for a record-breaking US$310,000 (AU$460,000) at auction in the US.

The 49-year-old car had only 35,000 kilometres on its odometer, having spent most of its life sitting showroom.

In January 2019, a rare 240Z known as Nissan Fairlady Z432R overseas sold for $1.17 million in Tokyo.