Baby let me upgrade ya – Beyoncé
It came as a welcome surprise to me when AUTO art announced they were releasing upgraded versions of their Toyota 2000GT coupe models. It was welcome because I had purchased the James Bond “You Only Live Twice" cabrio version in white and a Fuji Enduro racing coupe, but missed out on the original street coupe. So this was a chance to get a coupe in contrasting red paint to the other versions which I own in white.
The second reason it was a surprise? Well, quite frankly the 2000GT was already one of the best AUTO art models available. In fact, take away the Jaguar XJ 13, the Mercedes Pullman 600 Limo and a few other Signature items, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better, more true model than the 2000GT – so why upgrade this one when there are a ton of more needy candidates like the Porsche 917?
It could be the reason it was chosen for this special treatment was because of AUTO art’s recent homage to classic Japanese cars such as the Mazda Cosmo, Toyota Celica and Honda CRX as well as various versions of the Nissan Fairlady Z. But I don’t think so. A couple of years ago, certain changes were made to the original street versions in order to make models of Enduro and SCCA racers. So it essentially made sense to go back and re-make the street cars with these upgraded parts.
And one look at my 2000GT Fuji enduro race car version confirms this theory.
Now, to be fair, there’s nothing at all wrong with the approach. And to AUTO art’s credit they have re-done the original street cars, not just “un-liveried” the racing versions as we’ve seen in some Kyosho offerings. The original svelte body is restored with clean passenger car lines, fuel fills and road-going rubber.
The additional detailing focuses on several areas but let’s start with the obvious:
The pop-up headlights now actually do pop-up which they did not on the original cabrio version. This is accomplished using a nifty plunger located on the chassis.
There are two small, square storage compartments port and starboard on the front end. On previous models these were stamped outlines but they are now functional.
The engine compartment has a well machined strut on the driver side that helps hold up the hood.
The engine was already a good effort but improved detailing to the radiator and new labels make a substantial difference in the perception of quality.
Chassis is colored differently with a flavoring of faux anodized steel.
The rear hatch has a prop to help hold it in place - though it was so solid I did not need to use it.
The lensing and bevels are more refined, particularly at the rear of the car.
There were a million things right on the original model that are left alone here: the nylon seatbelts with photo-etched buckles, the two-part wheel assembly, the inner door detail such as roll-ups and arm rests that were better detailed than the cabriolet version even on the old version. The paint on AUTO art models is usually faultless and this particular red is stunning. The stance and shut lines are showroom ready.
Toyota of the 1960s was considered pretty square. They built reliable cars that provided basic transportation. The Toyota 2000GT started to change that perception. Introduced at the Tokyo Auto Show in 1965, it represented a quantum leap forward.
This AUTO art model captures the audacity of the moment, and the upgrades are welcome – especially to those of us that missed out on the original.
Now, let’s see if we can’t re-sculpt the 917K a tad….