JDM Gem: 1967 Toyota Publica Deluxe

Here’s a little JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) gem to start the new year out right. This is a 1967 Toyota Publica Deluxe and it can be found on eBay with six days of bidding left. The current bid price is just under $4,000 but the reserve isn’t met. This Publica is located in Saint Simons Island, Georgia, on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, hence the tropical setting.

Kicking 2017 off with a bang, there are great photos and plenty of them in this listing! The Publica was Toyota’s people car, or the company’s “national car concept” vehicle, meant to satisfy the masses and it was the smallest car made by Toyota at the time. They were made from 1961 to 1978 and came in several body styles, but all of them had two doors: a two-door sedan and convertible, a station wagon/van, and my personal favorite, a pickup.

This car was recently imported to the US and it has a current Georgia registration so hopefully it’s ready to go in your state. The UP20 Publicas were second-generation cars and they’re by far the ones most seen in the US, where they were never officially imported. The seller doesn’t mention rust or rust repair at all, but they say that the “paint was clayed, buffed, polished and sealed once the car was delivered stateside, and shows a remarkable luster from stem to stern. There’s a fair amount of chrome trim affixed to the exterior, and everything from the window trim down to the headlight buckets, bumpers and sill guards looks great, with no pitting, dulling, or other damage present.”

The interior looks fantastic, and although the red carpet may be a replacement from black carpet (although there is no mention of that), I have seen it in these cars before. The seats look perfect with nary a rip or tear in sight. The back seats look even nicer, as they often do. On a car this nice, I expect the 77,680 km (48,268 miles) to be correct. Yes, this is a right-hand drive car, so you’ll have to get used to shifting the column 4-speed manual with your left hand. Here’s a YouTube video showing someone driving a UP20 Publica. The Deluxe Publica came with a heater and AM radio, and the heater works great but the AM radio is set up for Japanese frequencies so it isn’t working.

Toyota sold 42,197 UP20 Publicas in 1967 and they all had their 2U, 790 CC, two-cylinder, air-cooled engine. This particular one has around 36 hp, although the convertible and super versions had twin-carbs and a neck-snapping 45 hp! What’s a bit unusual on this car is all of the “anti-rust coating” that the previous owner applied to the underside, wheel wells, and even on part of the engine. That always worries me a bit to see that, like someone is trying to either to hide something or, hopefully in the case here, just to protect and prevent the car from chips and future rust. It does look pretty solid underneath and the exterior, interior, and engine look great so hopefully it isn’t an issue and will only help to protect the car for years to come. I love these unusual Japanese market cars that were never officially imported to the US. Have you ever seen a Toyota Publica?


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  1. Ralph H.

    Just can’t see much interest in these cars…although you will be harrassed with the question, “what is that?”

  2. JamestownMike

    Cool looking car! I’ve NEVER seen or heard of one.

  3. Dan

    The YouTube video of the driving looks like the same car as the one in the ad. GA tag, and the area looks like St. Simons or Savannah.

    • RayT Member

      It’s the same car. Unless there are TWO Publicas having the same plate number….

      Sounded like lots of gear whine and some random rattles in the video. Hard to imagine running down to the local Toyota store for new transmission parts!

      Still, it’s a cute little puppy and I’m sure some fan of JDM cars will snap it up. With 55 bids already, it’ll be more expensive at the end of the auction, too.

      Not for me. I’m still holding out for a Toyopet Crown Deluxe.

  4. Paul B

    I love two cylinder cars and I’ll bet this is a good driving one. Not that I’ll be bidding on a RHD column-shift model anytime soon. But still, interesting, and I’ll bet it has Toyota reliability built in.

    • Fred W.

      This one was made before Toyota discovered reliability, somewhere around 1981.:)

  5. Jeffro

    This car reminds me of plain vanilla ice cream. Needs sprinkles. Chocolate syrup. Something.

  6. moosefeather

    Gotta love the looks of that distributor with two whole plug wires coming out of it.

  7. Mark

    Cute car, but the rubberized undercoating ensures that any future repairs will be messy. This is also years before Toyota had perfected their own galvanizing processes, so I’d be suspicious about what may be lurking under all that tar. But maybe that’s just 30 years in salty New England talking.

  8. Joe Haska

    Never heard of one and definitely never seen one, therefore true to form—I love it and I want it, I’m a complete push over!

  9. Rich S Member

    Has a look of a 60’s European Ford, like Cortina or Escort.

    • Rich S Member

      Actually a Angelia, at least the front and sides.

  10. Gerry Member

    A friend of mine just sold his 67 Publica Sports convertible
    and it was in survivor condition
    Here in Japan these go for 8-10K for survivor condition drivers and more for clean ones
    RHD column shift is easy my daily driver is a 77 Toyota Lite Ace truck with the 3K 1200cc and 4spd on the column keeps up with modern traffic and gets 20-22 mpg
    Pic is of the two of them together last time I had the Publica to install the new convertible top

    • angliagt


      Did those also come as a convertible,
      or is that a conversion?

      • Gerry Member

        Came as a convertible as mentioned in the article it was the sports version with twin carbs on the same 800cc flat two
        The one I had for a bit was a rev happy little screamer (happiest at 5000+rpms) had a 7.5k red line. good thing it didn’t weigh much cause single circuit drum brakes are scary hauling anything down from speed.
        My favorite of the Toyota 800cc’s was the 800gt a miniature version of the Toyota 200gt

  11. Tom Cotrel

    I’d get one just to take on any unsuspecting Dyna or 2CV at the stoplight.

  12. steve m

    Nice looking car, not for me, but still kinda cool.

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