One of the rarest and most valuable classic vehicles from Japan is the Toyota 2000GT. At auctions, collectors pay seven-figure sums to secure one of the 351 examples built. From today’s perspective, it is particularly exciting to see where Toyota once delivered the new cars. At the end of the 1960s, the company had only a gained a foothold in Europe in the UK. In addition, there was already a proper dealer network in the USA. And yet some 2000GTs made it to exotic places. For example, there were at least two cars for Mozambique, as well as nine for Australia and three for South Africa. These three cars for the South African market are listed in Toyota’s delivery lists as chassis numbers MF10-10131, MF10-10206 and MF10-10207. While the whereabouts of MF10-10206 are currently unclear, MF10-10131 is now in an American museum for movie cars – as a replica of James Bond’s 2000GT Spider.
Was it silver or red?
In one point, however, the official documents of Toyota gave riddles. MF10-10207 was listed there as a right-hand drive vehicle in the original color “Thunder Silver”. However, when Toyota South Africa acquired this car a few years ago, it wore the much more common color shade “Solar Red”. Since little is known about the exact history of this car, a repainting by one of the previous owners couldn’t be ruled out. Just to get to the bottom of the question of the original color, no one probably starts a restoration. However, when Toyota Gazoo Racing announced some time ago that they would reissue spare parts for the 2000GT in the newly founded GR Heritage Parts program, Toyota South Africa made the decision to fundamentally restore the car. For this purpose, the company joined forces with Generation Old School, a classic car restorer located east of Johannesburg. They are run by Wynand Strydom senior and his son Wynand Strydom junior.
Completely disassembled and inventorized
Since 2015, the Strydoms and their staff have been restoring mainly classic cars from the 1960s. However, they have never worked on a Toyota 2000GT before, which is hardly surprising given the low production numbers. But they are masters of methodical disassembly with meticulous inventories of all components, screws and tiny parts. They also received an original repair manual listing all part numbers from Toyota South Africa, as well as various images. Since many components aren’t yet available again even through the GR Heritage Parts program, the South African father-son team places great emphasis on refurbishing the old parts. However, a restoration basically starts with disassembly. In the case of the 2000GT, even the body is separated from the chassis so that all areas are accessible. The car dates back to 1968, so the corresponding screws should have ensured a secure connection for 53 years.
Paint striping reveals secret
The team then also removed the inline six-cylinder engine from the rolling chassis. Only a few problem areas were found on the chassis itself. However, the magnesium alloy wheels require extensive reconditioning. The interior wood trim and the chrome rings on the instruments presented a similar picture. They were brittle, dull and fragile. Likewise, the insulation materials of the wiring harness crumbled to dust at the slightest touch. The body was placed on the chassis for easier transport and taken to Dino’s Classic Restoration, where it was stripped of paint. In the process, they discovered not only slight damage to the underbody and lower body areas – presumably due to driving too fast over speed bumps. In the most hidden places, for example below the dashboard, above the headliner and under the carpets, only red paint was revealed. The decision was therefore made to repaint the car in “Solar Red”. Work is currently continuing.
Images: Toyota South Africa