Mini 2000GT: 1968 Toyota Sports 800

032016 Barn Finds - 1968 Toyota Sports 800 1

The 1968 Toyota Sports 800 found here on Hemmings is a rare one. There were only about 300 of these made in left-hand-drive and this is one of them. The seller is asking, are you ready?, $59,500, so I’m guessing that they want you to offer $59,000 cash. It’s been for sale for a while so there is some bargaining room here.

032016 Barn Finds - 1968 Toyota Sports 800 4

Toyota produced this car for five years, starting in 1965, after its debut at the 1962 Tokyo Auto Show as the Toyota Publica Sports. The Sports 800 only weighs about 1,280 pounds, which you’ll want to remember when we talk about the engine. This mini-2000GT-look-a-like was produced before that beautiful car was, so in essence, this is Toyota’s first sports car. Now remember, a sports car in Japan at the time meant something totally different than it meant in the US. They have narrow roads and congested cities, whereas the US has (or, had) wide-open expanses of multi-lane freeways and cheap gas so to compare this “sports car” with a “sports car” from the US at the time is like comparing an oak tree to a houseplant. Both are things that grow, but their comparative size is considerably different and yet both are useful and beautiful in their own way.

032016 Barn Finds - 1968 Toyota Sports 800 3

This car is not quite 12-feet in length and is not quite 5-feet wide. A small footprint for sure, but it was a couple of inches longer in both dimensions than an MG Midget was in this era. The Sports 800 was one of the first production-built cars with an aluminum, lift-out roof panel; yes, even before Porsche had them. There were only 440 of these built in 1968 and this is one of the 300 in total that were built in left-hand-drive, mainly for US servicemen who were stationed in Okinawa; they were never officially exported to the US market. Here is one in action on YouTube. For anyone who doubts the sports car worthiness of this diminutive car, it has proven itself worthy in motorsports racing, especially long-distance races where it took 3rd place behind two Toyota 2000GTs in the 1967 Fuji 24-Hour Race.

032016 Barn Finds - 1968 Toyota Sports 800 2

The grille and “bumperettes” (I know, a dainty-sounding name) were new for 1968 and this one is missing the rubber baby buggy bumpers as you can see here. The covered headlights were a cool and somewhat unusual feature which are used more effectively, and beautifully, on the 2000GT. But, come on, look at this face!

032016 Barn Finds - 1968 Toyota Sports 800 5

Yep, I’ll have to put this one on a velvet turntable in our living room, I’m not going to fit in there. I ran into that problem with a Subaru 360 Young S that I looked at a couple of months ago. But, for you drivers who are under 6′-5″ tall, you may be able to drive this car down the road and wave back at your admirers, or at least at the dumb-founded onlookers. Is that a coolant temperature gauge there? Nope, it couldn’t be, it wouldn’t be, it can’t be.

032016 Barn Finds - 1968 Toyota Sports 800 6

You guessed it, this is an air-cooled engine. Not only that, it’s a 790cc, two-stroke, two-cylinder with two carbs at the ready with a bit less than 40hp! That’s where the 1,280 pound weight of this car comes in handy, by using a lot of aluminum for body panels the designers and engineers were able to use this tiny engine seen here. That doesn’t sound like a lot of power, especially if a person were to compare it to an American car from 1968, but this car could dang near hit 100mph and for a two-cylinder car in 1968 in Japan, that’s not too shabby! Since it needs a lot of work the price is quite a bit higher than I think it should be. But, they’re probably banking on someone wanting a rare left-hand-drive version of this Sports 800 so it might work. I know that I want one. There is no question that these cars aren’t what most of you would consider worthy of even being in the collectible car category, but as far as I’m concerned, this one is right in my sweet spot and is as collectible, if not more so, than almost anything else out there. Are there any other fans of tiny, unusual Japanese “sports cars” out there or am I the only one? Hello? Is this mic on?…

WANT ADS

WANTED 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle Looking for true 138 SS 4 speed car project . Doesn’t have to have motor or trans Contact

WANTED 1925-1995 Vintage RV’s, Airstreams, Spartans, Vans, VW, etc Airstream We buy vintage trailers and motorhomes of most makes. We buy Airstreams of all years. Contact

WANTED 1969 Ford Mustang Wanted 1969 Big block mustang, any condition considered Contact

WANTED 1958-1961 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite Looking for a rust-free Bugeye to fix and drive. Thanks! Contact

WANTED 1969-1971 Manic GT In any condition Contact

Submit Your Want Ad

Comments

  1. Healeydays

    This car gas been up for sale on Ebay in the past at the same price.

  2. Charles

    Cute little car, but not 59K cute…

  3. Dolphin Member

    The home market Japanese car world was all about small back when this Toyota was being designed, I guess in keeping with the limitations of a small country, small roads, and maybe some post-war scarcity and other limitations. But I imagine that a car like this Toyota Sports still had some prestige in the home market. The cockpit does look good, even if it’s tiny.

    But I see compromises and awkwardness everywhere. The result is that although Toyota built a sports car, it didn’t have what a sports car needs above all else: flowing lines that hint at performance. And even if the performance is modest, at least there should be style and eye-appeal. But this car comes up short.

    I can see this as a rare collector’s item that represents an early effort by what has become the world’s largest automaker, but at $60K the appeal will probably be very limited.

  4. Mike H. Mike H.

    While I’m entirely in love with J-Tin, and especially these cars and the Honda S600/S800, this price seems like 1-1/2 times the value of a #1 example. It is NOT a 2000GT or even marginally comparable, and the price should even try to suggest it.

    Is it cool? Yes.

    DO I want it? Definitely.

    Is it practical, or reasonable? Noop. I see an opportunist. As mentioned earlier, this car has been making the rounds since late last fall and no takers so far. Another one of these which was about 80% restored popped up for sale last year and included piles of spares for about $25k; that one was a good deal.

  5. Roger Owen

    The car in the Youtube video looks pretty concours, and probably never for sale. Sounds unlike any 2 stroke I’ve come across – low revs and not a trace of smoke!

  6. Gary Oliver

    $59,500 or $59,000 cash? Help me clear this up in my head. I bought a pickup truck last Spring. When dickering with the seller I offered him $18,000 cash. When he delivered the truck I wrote a check to my bank down the street for the amount. He had expected $18,000 CASH! He became angry thinking the IRS was going to tax him. I always thought offering cash was just a way of saying I don’t need financing but not meant literally. Am I wrong?

    • Mike H. Mike H.

      To me, cash means paper currency in USD. A check is not cash as I cannot take the check to a retail establishment and redeem it for goods or services like I can with American currency.

      “Cash” usually means payment in a form which offers no hassle and no conversion. You may be financing the purchase or taking the money from your 401k; I don’t particularly care where it came from. Cash means cash money. You can’t do a charge-back on cash, cash doesn’t bounce, I don’t have to wait for funds to clear on cash. This is why many sellers offer a discount for purchases made with cash as the funds are immediately liquid and ready for conversion to food, furniture, or a different car.

    • AlphaRoaming.com

      Cash means a fistful of Benjamins! “Benjamin Franklin”

  7. Steven C

    These are not 2 stroke

    • Scotty G Staff

      You are correct, sir, my mistake. I had Subaru 360 on the brain for some reason when I wrote this one. Thanks for catching that!

      • Steven C

        It’s casual, I always have weird cars on the brain

  8. Roger Owen

    Ummm, didn’t think it sounded like one!

  9. Howard A Member

    According to this picture, it is a 4 cycle. Some of these had roller bearing cranks, and I bet this thing spins 10g’s. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3e/1961_Toyota_U_Type_engine_front.jpg
    Even if it did go 100 mph, could you see sharing the road with Suburban’s and Hummer types? I read, this motor, in a detuned version ( good heavens) was used in Japanese buses to run the A/C. Don’t worry, Jay Leno’s crew will have this looking like new in no time. Cool find.

  10. Roger Owen

    Good picture – well found! Nice compact little power unit – shame somebody decided to take a saw to it!

  11. gerry Member

    Just recently was a caretaker for the everyday consumer version of this car a 1967 Publica sports 800.
    Believe it or not I could wedge my 6′ self into it and drive granted it was a convertible and I mostly had to drive with the top down.
    Surprisingly rev happy with the opposed flat 2 loved to be in the above 4K range was happy at speeds above 40mph but terrible below that of course with single circuit 4 wheel drum brakes didn’t want to spend to much time at high speeds anyway.
    Asking price is in line with what they sell for here in Japan but usually in slightly better condition

    • Scotty G Staff

      Nice car, Gerry!

    • Steven C

      Love that! Could see myself driving that around some sort of island.

  12. DrGonzo

    I recognize the concrete floor, i.e. location where pics are taken: Beverly Hills Car Club. Not in 90210, by the way – or so I’ve been told.

    Their ask is usually ‘highish’…

    … so they couldve fixed that floor by now, right?! ;-)

  13. AlphaRoaming.com

    I’ll save my money for a Mazda Cosmo (or a fleet of 240-Zs!)

  14. rogerowen

    uk?

  15. Sunday Driver

    An example of an S800 sits in the lobby (used to?) of Toyota HQ. If they think it’s important enough to put on display, then, I gotta think it’s an important car.

    $60K for a left hand drive? Possibly. BHCC, the same seller, sold one in better condition than this one about a year ago. Not sure what it went for, but the list was $60K. So I guess they think that with the passage of a year, a lesser version is now worth that. Market will decide that. But with 2000GT’s ranging in selling price between 800K to 1.2 mil, I think this significant car, under a hundred K, is a steal.

    Of course, this is not everyone’s cup of saki.

    Most Americans love their big engines. I was in that camp too for quite a while. Still am to some extent. But not for the past number of years. Big engines mean big money for the same example of vehicle. A straight six cylinder 250 ci Chevelle, or do you prefer the 350 V8? See what I mean? AND they are everywhere. Can’t go to a car show without seeing 100’s of examples.

    For those that eschew speed for styling, this car has it all. Low production numbers, nimble, racing history, a targa roof before Porsche (take that 911!), club support (ok,in Japan).

    Tons of fun,thumbs up, and questions wherever you drive it! Small displacement cars are rising in value beyond the microcar community and this car is an example of that. Full disclosure, I own a right hand drive version.

    Thanks Scotty G for exposing this awesome car to more people! There goes my chance at a second one! : (

  16. Sunday Driver

    Trying to load a photo of mine. Didn’t work last post.
    This time hopefully.

  17. Top Cat

    The Horsepower listed on the owners manual and brochure was 49 HP @ 5,400 a bit more than listed in the article, but decent for a 1250 pound car with very good aerodynamics. I attached 2 pics of my engine before install. It was designed in the Datsun (yes Datsun) wind tunnel. That’s my Sports 800 on the youtube link, thanks for the comments. The engine is a flat twin and is of course a OHV -4 stroke. Redline is 6,500, so it relies on a healthy and flat torque curve with performance on par with Austin Healey Sprites and Triumph Spitfires of the day. Toyota was testing dealer interest in 66, but the impending new smog control and safety standards for 68 killed the idea. Fun little car for a normally conservative Toyota company. The 2 other cars the head designer of the S800 created were: the original Corolla and first year Celica. Also cool cars for Toyota. Prices like this are usually for fully restored example of LHD cars, but they are climbing.

  18. Top Cat

    Here is the rear shot of my Sports 800 engine to show the horzontal layout. Just like a BMW motorcycle or Panhard car. Very low center of gravity due to this small, mostly aluminum design. It allowed a very low hood profile. They dominated the Fuji 24 endurance races over Honda S800s due to a slippery profile and adequate HP at much lower rpm than the screaming 10,000 rpm Honda engines. But those Honda engines sounded great! You can see how small the engine is by comparing it to the small craftsman tool chest below it.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.