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Many are familiar with the Cobra, Mustang, and GT chapters of the Carroll Shelby story. But while those passages are well-thumbed, there’s more to his and his company’s legacy. More to the point, Shelby didn’t only work his magic on Fords. He also hot-rodded Dodge cars and SUVs and helped Sunbeam spice up its Alpine. And now, one of his rarest automaker collaborations could be yours—a Shelby-tuned 1967 Toyota 2000GT.

The Toyota 2000GT lived twice as a convertible, but thrice as an SCCA racer tuned by Carroll Shelby

A rear 3/4 view of a 1968 Toyota 2000GT on a curving road
1968 Toyota 2000GT rear 3/4 | Bob D’Olivo/The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images/Getty Images

Even if the Toyota 2000GT didn’t have a starring role in a James Bond movie, it would still likely be an icon. Released in 1967, it was basically an early supercar and utterly different than anything Toyota sold at the time. But that was precisely the point. The 2000GT was designed to show the world Japanese automakers could compete with the world’s best at the highest echelons. And it came in swinging.

Although more expensive than the equally-stylish Jaguar E-Type, the Toyota 2000GT backed up its price tag with cutting-edge 1960s sports car tech. It has a 150-hp Yamaha-engineered 2.0-liter inline-six, five-speed manual, and power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes. Also, a limited-slip differential, rack-and-pinion steering, and fully-independent double-wishbone suspension. And fun fact, that’s more advanced than the E-Type’s suspension. The 2000GT’s magnesium-alloy wheels are similarly far ahead of the Jaguar’s wire ones.

A white-and-blue 1968 Toyota 2000GT racing in a Las Vegas SCCA event
1968 Toyota 2000GT racing in a Las Vegas SCCA event | Toyota

When Toyota publicly unveiled the 2000GT in 1966, Carroll Shelby took all those features in, as well as the car’s low center of gravity and excellent weight distribution. And he saw some serious potential for racing success. So, he persuaded Toyota to give him three cars to race in the SCCA C-Production class, Gooding & Co. explains. Incidentally, that was the first US race Toyota competed in.

Despite the team’s best efforts, the Toyota 2000GT wasn’t the smash-hit racer Carroll Shelby hoped it would be. Nevertheless, race it did, or at least, two of the three cars he prepared did. Now, one of those two racers, chassis code MF10-10001, is up for grabs.

The first Toyota 2000GT, a one-of-three Shelby race car, is going up for auction

The white-and-blue 1967 Toyota 2000GT Shelby race car 'MF10-10001'
1967 Toyota 2000GT Shelby race car ‘MF10-10001’ | Gooding & Co.

MF10-10001 is significant even beyond being a Toyota 2000GT prepped for racetrack duty by Carroll Shelby. It’s the very first 2000GT with a production code. Yup, this is literally the first 2000GT off the production line.

Gooding doesn’t list what modifications Carroll Shelby made to MF10-10001, but there are some hints in the auction photos. At the very least, this 2000GT packs a partial roll cage, stripped-down interior, racing fuel cell and pumping system, and racing harnesses. Also, based on the dashboard-mounted toggle switches, it has a differential cooler. And it rides on knock-off racing wheels.

MF10-10001 was originally red, but Carroll Shelby repainted it in his signature white-and-blue livery. And after a brief racing career, it ended up in the hands of a well-regarded 2000GT specialist, who The Drive identified as Robert Tkacik of Main Line Exotics. Tkacik gave the racer a full frame-off restoration before showing it off at places like the Goodwood Festival of Speed. It even won First in Class at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

This hyper-rare classic supercar could be the first Japanese car to break the $2 million barrier

If you want a chance to own a truly historic classic sports car, mark your calendars for March 4th, 2022. That’s when this Toyota 2000GT crosses Gooding’s Amelia Island auction block. And when it does, it might become historic for another reason.

Earlier this year, Hagerty predicted that some vintage Japanese car would sell for $2 million in a 2022 auction, The Drive says. MF10-10001 might be that car. A fair-condition 1967 2000GT is already a $500,000 car, while a pristine one costs more than $850,000. But Gooding estimates this 2000GT might sell for $2.75-$3.5 million. If it does, that would make it the most expensive Japanese car ever sold at auction. And it would be worth more than the only 2004 Shelby Cobra concept.

From obscurity to history—seems about right for a Shelby story.

[Update 3/7/2022: The Toyota-Shelby 2000GT didn’t break Gooding’s estimates, but it didn’t need to. With a final price of $2.535 million, it’s now officially the most expensive Japanese car ever sold at auction.]

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