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In the car world, the word ‘replica’ is often associated with kit cars like Factory Five’s and Superformance’s Cobras. But it also applies to things like the Blower Bentley and Aston Martin Goldfinger Continuation cars. These are replicas in the truest sense, in that they replicate the experience and often construction methods of the original. And that means more people can feel what it’s like to drive these rare and valuable classics. Now, Japanese shop Rocky Auto is doing something like that with the original Japanese supercar: the Toyota 2000GT.

Before the Lexus LFA roared to life, the Toyota 2000GT rocked the ‘60s supercar world

A white 1967 Toyota 2000GT
1967 Toyota 2000GT | Toyota

An engine developed by Yamaha; rear-wheel drive; Japanese supercar; rare. These words could easily describe the Lexus LFA. But they apply just as well to its spiritual ancestor, the 1967-1970 Toyota 2000GT.

Even before it starred in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, the Toyota 2000GT shocked the automotive world. Remember, up until now Toyota was best known for the built-tough FJ40 Land Cruiser and humble Corona. But here was a RWD sports car with fully-independent suspension, four-wheel discs, a standard limited-slip differential, and a handmade aluminum body that rivaled the Jaguar E-Type in style.

Also, it offered Porsche 911-rivaling handling as well as literally record-breaking racing performance, Hagerty notes. And in addition to building the 150-hp 2.0-liter inline-six engine, Yamaha also supplied the interior wood trim. Fun fact, it’s the same kind of wood Yamaha puts in its pianos.

Unfortunately, a high price tag and slow rate of construction made the Toyota 2000GT rare. And this is where Okazaki-based shop Rocky Auto comes in.

Rocky Auto makes Toyota 2000GT replicas with help from one of its original developers

The rear 3/4 view of a white Rocky Auto Toyota 2000GT replica with its doors and panels open
Rocky Auto Toyota 2000GT replica rear 3/4 | Rocky Auto

The owner of Rocky Auto, Yoshiya Watanabe, has a history with Toyota, Top Gear says. Back in his car designer days, he penned the HiAce van. But in addition to designing cars, he also helped the bosuzoku crowd on the side and started modifying classics like Skylines and 240Zs. His shop still works on these JDM icons, but now restomods as well as tunes them. And as of a few years ago, Rocky Auto also makes Toyota 2000GT replicas.

Although the shop’s replicas, which it calls ‘Toyota 3000GTs,’ aren’t continuation cars, they’re the closest things not made by Toyota itself. Rocky Auto laser-scanned an original 2000GT—specifically, Watanabe’s 2000GT—to make a wooden body buck. And just like the original, the 3000GT’s aluminum panels are hand-beaten into shape on this buck. The chassis is handmade, too, as is most of the interior. Also, a member of the original Toyota 2000GT development team, Hiroshi Hosoya, supervises the build, The Drive reports.

Admittedly, Rocky Auto does give its Toyota 2000GT replica a few modern upgrades. It gets power steering, modern suspension, A/C, and a power-tilting telescopic steering wheel. Also, some of the wiring and dials come straight from the Toyota parts bin. And so does its engine.

For maximum heritage, Rocky Auto gives its ‘Toyota 3000GT’ a proper 2JZ engine

If you want, Rocky Auto can put a Prius powertrain in its Toyota 2000GT replica. But the default engine is something significantly more appropriate. It’s another Toyota inline-six, the legendary 2JZ from the Mk4 Supra.

Technically, the 3.0-liter 2JZ-GE Rocky Auto installs is the naturally-aspirated version, though the shop does offer a turbo package. But it was still good for 215 hp and 218 lb-ft of torque in the early-2000s IS 300. And while it comes standard with a four-speed automatic, the shop offers a manual option.

Driving the 3000GT isn’t quite like commanding an original Toyota 2000GT, Top Gear says. There’s a bit more plastic in the replica, and the wood trim isn’t quite as special. But thanks to its modern suspension and steering, it feels lighter and nimbler than the OG. Also, while it’s more powerful than the original, the 3000GT isn’t so powerful that you can’t have fun on a regular road. And without turbos, you can enjoy the “properly characterful and buzzy” 2JZ even more, Top Gear notes.

No, Rocky Auto doesn’t make a one-to-one Toyota 2000GT replica. But it does capture the icon’s style, spirit, and sensation in a package that’s easy to live with. And, more importantly, is significantly cheaper.

How much does the replica cost compared to the real thing?

While original Toyota 2000GTs were never cheap per se, they’ve appreciated strongly over the years. Today, even a fair-condition 2000GT costs $500K, while a pristine one commands close to $1 million, Hagerty says. And while sources differ on specific production figures, Toyota never made more than 351 examples. Also, there’s only one factory-original convertible, and that’s the one in the James Bond flick.

Speaking of that roadster, Rocky Auto also offers a convertible version of its 3000GT. But both are significantly cheaper than an original 2000GT. At roughly $200K, they’re still not cheap, but they’re more affordable. And that means the chances of seeing a 2000GT on the road are noticeably higher.

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