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Toyotas First Sports Car: 1967 Sports 800


Here is a Toyota you don’t see everyday… well, or ever. We had never seen one before, so when Jim S. sent us the link to this example, we took notice. Everyone knows about the 2000GT, but Toyota’s first sports car was actually the Sports 800. It was a tiny featherweight car powered by an air-cooled boxer two-cylinder! This particular one is in need of some serious help, but there are so very few left that this one deserves to be saved. Take a look here on eBay where bidding is currently at $3k. Thanks Jim for the tip!


Unfortunately, the aforementioned 790cc engine is not currently mounted under the hood. Someone obviously wanted to attempt a restoration, but they didn’t get very far. Lots of parts have been removed and we are sure that many of them have gone missing. The seller also drops the dreaded “modifications” word in their listing. That is a shame too because this had to be a fun little car in its heyday.


There wasn’t much power going to the rear wheels, but with a curb weight under 1,300 pounds, it was more about toss-ability than outright speed. There are rumors that this little car could hit 100 mph though on the track! We are not sure we would be brave enough to attempt those velocities, but we wouldn’t mind taking it around a few corners.


Most of us think Porsche when we think of targas, but apparently Toyota beat them to it. Sports 800 production started in 1965 and they came equipped with a removable roof section. It was made of aluminum and could be stashed in the trunk for those hot days in the land of the rising sun.


A little over 3,000 Sports 800s were built and supposedly only 10% are still around today. The seller also mentions that very few left hand drive cars were built, so this one is a real rarity. Surely someone here has enough love for old Japanese iron to take this project on? When finished, you will have a handsome and fun to drive sports car just like the one above. Plus, we doubt you will ever see another one on the road. Good luck finding parts though…


  1. Jim-Bob

    I believe the Sports 800 shares it’s basic mechanical package with the Toyota Publica, so mechanical parts should be somewhat easier to find than body parts. However, neither car was ever sold in the US, so one would do well to know someone with contacts in Japan to try and find parts. Since it’s already modified, I would probably leave it somewhat customized, but go for a look that would be period correct for Japan during this time period.

    These cars were raced when they were relatively new. I believe they competed in road racing in a class that also included the Honda S500/600/800.

    So…some of you may be asking just what the heck a Toyota Publica is? It was Toyota’s answer to the Japanese government’s specifications for a Japanese people’s car. It was to be bigger than a keijidosha, hence the engine size that was much larger than the 360cc kei car specifications of the time. The name was from a public naming competition and means “public car”. It wasn’t a huge success though, and eventually evolved into the car we know as the Tercel in the US.

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  2. rusty

    Wow its even got those rarer Toyota Toyotrac Tractor wheels on it.

    This one is a candidate for Tractor pulls no doubt.

    Too bad I’m in another country…I’d have it.

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  3. jean lecointe

    the engine has a familiar look for a french Citroen addict. It does look like a 2CV engine or eventually a BMW flat twin motor bike of the sixties.
    I do think it is worth saving, the red new car looks pretty good. Good luck to the future owner.

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  4. Bryan Cohn

    This is a great candidate for a vintage race car build. What else do you do with a cool car in such sad shape missing so many parts and with parts being tough to get hold of (not hard to find, just a pain to obtain from Japan).

    Alternatively, resto as a weird rat rod with a 2.2L Subaru engine and gearbox, keep the wheels, drop it on its bump stops and go!

    I think I like the 2nd idea better…..wonder what it’ll go for? Wonder what my wife would say when I drug it home…….

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  5. paul

    I bet it was a hoot to drive, short wheel base so I wouldn’t want to be going too too fast.

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  6. Dutch 1960

    These are so, so tiny. But such interesting and cool cars. They tend to steal the show a bit at car shows. At the 2012 Japanese show in Long Beach, I sat and watched people walk right by the Toyota 2000GT to look at the Sports 800. You don’t sit in it, you wear it. Fixing up one in this condition is going to be a challenge in the US, for parts reasons.

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  7. Chris H.

    Alright, I’ll say it: Hayabusa swap, anyone?

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  8. Mark E

    Back in the late 70s-early 80s I actually knew where one of these had been apparently abandoned in an empty lot. Very popular with the neighborhood kids!! ^_^

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    • Brian

      You never know, maybe one of those (now grown up) kids will end up buying it? I have to say, although I am not a big fan of engine swaps, this car demands one to make it fun to drive, just two more cylinders would make a world of difference! However, I will pass and let someone else have the fun!

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      • Jim-Bob

        It’s not as underpowered as you might think. If memory serves, it has around 45 hp-plenty enough for a car that weighs 1,000-1200lbs. Heck, my 1690lb daily driver only came with a 55hp 993cc inline 3 and it gets down the road just fine!

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  9. Robert J

    See Hemmings Sports & Exotic, the October issue I think, for a great article on these tiny Toyotas. It is an excellent magazine for car nuts by the way.

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  10. steve

    This is what you buy when you think an Abarth 750 is too big!

    Nice car though, I wouldnt mind having it.

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  11. rancho bella

    Sadly someone cut the rear fenders. …………knucklehead
    Great project. Did I miss what the material of the body is?
    May be a touch tough to fill in the back quarters/wheel arches correctly but it can be done. Need a stencil from a correct car along with lip measurements.

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    • Jim-Bob

      I see some surface rust where the paint is broken, so the body is probably just regular steel. Given the inexpensive nature of this car when new, I would almost guarantee it.

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  12. Don Andreina

    Apart from the grille/light embellishments, these have a remarkably clean body design; definitely comparable to contemporary Euro custom bodies on sub-1 litre cars. Love those wheels, too. Hope someone saves this. Nice find.

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