History of Toyota sports cars

Over 50 years of pedigree

Since the 1960s, Toyota has surprised and delighted people with its interpretation of what makes an engaging, exciting and entertaining sports car. Many of these have gone on to earn iconic status, and it’s a selection of these landmark Toyotas sports cars that we celebrate here.

Lightweight beginnings

Who would have thought that the Sports 800 – a car with such small proportions and Toyota’s first production sports car – would have such a big influence on future Toyotas. Affectionately known as Yota-Hachi – a shortened Japanese form for ‘Toyota 8’ – the Sports 800 was first shown at the 1962 Tokyo Motor Show as the prototype Toyota Publica Sports concept.

With a featherweight approach, combined with a gutsy horizontally-opposed 790cc engine that drove the rear wheels, the Sports 800 lived up to its creator’s vision of delivering a responsive drive with remarkable fuel consumption, as low as 3.8 litre/per 100km. As a sign of how far Toyota’s Hybrid innovation extends, an innovative Sports 800 GT Hybrid, equipped with a gas turbine engine powering an electric motor, was shown at the Tokyo Motor Show in the late 1970s.

With its popularity in domestic motorsports – thanks to its reliability and fuel efficiency – the Sports 800 scooped third position in the 1967 Fuji 24-hour race (fittingly behind two Toyota 2000GTs) and will be fondly remembered, not only as Toyota’s first production sports car, but a real driving enthusiasts’ sports car.


More from Toyota heritage

2000GT - History of Toyota sports cars 2000GT - History of Toyota sports cars Famous for its starring role alongside Sean Connery in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, the Toyota 2000GT arrived on the world stage in the same year and instantly made a statement that Toyota was serious about challenging the best sports cars Europe had to offer. COROLLA - History of Toyota sports cars COROLLA - History of Toyota sports cars On the face of it, Toyota’s most well-known family car – and the world’s best-selling vehicle – the Corolla, would seem out of place in the company of highly-focused sports cars but, in truth, over the years the Corolla has produced some of the most well-loved sporting Toyotas. GT86 - History of Toyota sports cars GT86 - History of Toyota sports cars For sports car fans and Toyota purists, the arrival of the GT86 in 2011 was a welcome relief. With no MR2, Celica or Supra in the range to satisfy their cravings for the past few years, the pedigree of the GT86 was exactly what they had been waiting so long for. MR2 - History of Toyota sports cars MR2 - History of Toyota sports cars The MR2 of 1984 was actually derived from a 1976 design project that had the goal of building an enjoyable, yet fuel efficient car – much like the earlier Sports 800. Over the coming years, the ethos of the original concept evolved into a sports car and the resulting ‘Midship Runabout 2-seater’ was born, joining its bigger brothers, the Celica and Supra.


History of Toyota sports cars (part 2)

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