Updated yet retaining its aircraft-inspired styling, Toyota’s first production sports car now outshines its younger sibling, the iconic 2000GT.
In the 1950s, Japan produced the tiny, gas-sipping commuter vehicles known as kei cars out of necessity. The country was struggling after World War II, and its people needed economical utilitarian cars. By the mid-1960s, however, automakers such as Toyota and Nissan branched out and offered cars that were still petite yet much more fun to drive.
One of these cars was the Toyota Sports 800, the carmaker’s first production sports car. It was available from 1965 to 1969, and many consider it to be the forerunner of the Toyota Supra. In a new render, HotCars digital artist Timothy Adry Emmanuel creates a new restomod version of the Sports 800 while staying true to what made it unique.
Toyota Sports 800 Inspired By Fighter Planes Joins The 21st Century
Toyota based the Sports 800 on the 1962 Toyota Publica Sports concept car. They share a coupe configuration, a sleek profile, and a moveable roof panel. But the 800’s developer Tatsuo Hasegawa, a former WWII aircraft designer, wanted to make a true sports car.
The car is light and agile like the fighter jets that the developer once worked on, with lightweight steel and aluminum construction. As a result, the Toyota Sports 800 weighed a mere 1,279 pounds. Emmanuel’s restomod is perhaps not quite as light, but its sculpted fiberglass body is still aerodynamic and more modern looking.
The Toyota Sports 800 Seen In A New Light
In the 800’s five years of production, Toyota made only 3,131 cars, according to Hagerty. Of those, only about 10% now exist, since many fell victim to rust due to its steel construction. But time and weather haven’t affected this restomod.
With its more fluid styling and a Kamm tail like a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, it anticipates the 800’s successor, the 2000GT. The targa top remains but is much better integrated into the overall design.
Gone are the torpedo-style front fenders and triangular LED headlights replace the round ones. The beefed-up split center front intake hints at a robust engine under the sports car’s hood. The bumperettes are now larger and triangular, instead of small and toothy.
We think that the right engine for this cool car is a Toyota 2JZ-GTE twin-turbo inline-six engine paired with a 6-speed manual. While we could try to stuff a much larger engine like an LS into the car, it seems more fitting to stay true to the quirky but sporty kei car spirit of the Toyota Sports 800 with a proper Toyota powertrain.