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Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Here's the forerunner of all Toyota's sports cars

~Rare ONES~ Until now, there have been many sports cars made by Toyota Motor Corporation on the global automotive market. It seems that the discussion about the sports car made by this Japanese manufacturer feels incomplete if it has not discussed this classic sports car made by the company. Plus maybe all this time we more often hear that the 1967 Toyota 2000GT as the first Toyota supercar rather than the car that we will discuss this time.
The Toyota Sports 800 (in pictured is 1965 model) is Toyota's first production sports car and produced during 1965 to 1969. (Picture from: IdnTimes)
Well, did you know that two years before that the Japanese manufacturer had launched a sports car model that is more worthy of being called the ancestor of all Toyota sports cars, namely the Toyota Sports 800 which was released by those Japanese company in 1965. Might be you'll asked, what's the reason the car was built at the time?
The Toyota Sports 800 (in pictured is 1965 model) is powered by a two-cylinder boxer-type engine with a very small capacity of only 790 cc which is mounted horizontally, coupled with two carburetors. (Picture from: IdnTimes)
In the era of 1960s, when the Japanese economy was prosperous enough that it sparked the initiative of the country's car manufacturers to make sports cars that were more than just ordinary transportation vehicles. In short, one of the Japanese car manufacturers Honda in 1963 launched its first sports car called the Honda S500.
Here's the Toyota Sports 800 sweet memories when it won the 500 km racing event at the Suzuka circuit back in the 1966. (Picture from: OtoDriver)
Seeing this then sparked the desire of Toyota officials at that time to do the same immediately, namely to produce sports cars. This can be understood as something natural, because a year before the Honda S500 was launch, it turned out that Toyota had displayed and introduced the forerunner of its sports car as the Toyota Publica Sports at the 1962 Tokyo Motor Show.
The Toyota Sports 800 (in pictured is 1965 model) had aerodynamic styling by Shozo Sato, a designer on loan from Datsun, and Toyota engineer Tatsuo Hasegawa. (Picture from: Wikipedia)
This Toyota Publica Sports show car featured with a unique but less practical roof, due to can be shifted backwards to replace the doors as an access in and out of the cabin. After the exhibition, the design of the Publica Sports was again placed on the drawing table to develop further by Toyota's Chief Engineer then, Tatsuo Hasegawa, who was one of the people who played a role in the birth of the Corolla, Celica, Carina and Publica.
The prototype for the Toyota Sports 800, called the Toyota Publica Sports, debuted at the 1962 Tokyo Auto Show. (Picture from: Wikipedia)
One of the interesting things about this sports car design process is that Toyota has to hire designers from other manufacturers, and the hired designer to do those designing jobs was Shozo Sato, who actually worked at Datsun Nissan for a long time and previously known an aircraft designer during the World War 2.
The Toyota Sports 800 (in pictured is 1965 model) appears in a small dimension (perhaps it was to adjust to the posture of the Japanese at that time) so that it doesn't look like a sports car. (Picture from: IdnTimes)
He along with Tatsuo Hasegawa are the most responsible figures for keeping the weight of the sports car which was later known as the Toyota Sports 800 remains lightweight so that it can be driven swiftly while maneuvering on the streets. Besides having a fairly simple and sporty design, the Toyota Sport 800 appears in a small dimension (perhaps it was to adjust to the posture of the Japanese at that time) so that it doesn't look like a sports car.
The Toyota Sports 800 (in pictured is 1965 model) has a fairly light body about 580 kg capable to run up to a top speed of 154 kph, after recieved its engine's bursting power of 45 horse power. (Picture from: IdnTimes)
As for the drivetrain, the Toyota Sports 800 is equipped with a two-cylinder boxer-type engine with a very small capacity of only 790 cc which is mounted horizontally, coupled with two carburetors. This type of engine is considered to provide better stability because the center of gravity is quite low, so the car can go faster and lighter.
1967 Toyota Sports 800 with left-hand drive configuration. (Picture from: Wikipedia)
This can be seen when this tiny Japanese sports car which has a fairly light body (about 580 kg) capable to run up to a top speed of 154 kph, after recieved its engine's bursting power of 45 horse power. Well, in addition to being powerful and relatively light in weight, the Toyota Sports 800 is also known to be very efficient in the fuel using, that's only requires 1 liter of fuel to coverage a distance of 31 km.
1967 Toyota Sports 800 with left-hand drive configuration. (Picture from: LaneMotorMuseum)
This Japanese sports car also has nickname Yota-Hachi (Yota from the Toyota name, Hachi which means 8), was produced between 1965 and 1969, besides being recognized as Toyota's first mass-produced sports car and also known to be the first Japanese car to use the targa roof, which is an aluminum roof that can be removed and stored in the trunk when the driver wants to drive the car without a roof like a roadster.
The Toyota Sports 800 (in pictured is 1965 model) is known to be the first Japanese car to use the targa roof, which is an aluminum roof that can be removed and stored in the trunk. (Picture from: Wikipedia)
During the production period of the Toyota Sports 800, it is estimated that around 3,313 units of the car came out of the Kanto Auto Works factory which was a production partner of Toyota at the time, majority made with right-hand steering configuration and available variants were red, blue and silver. At that time, in addition to the Honda S500, the Toyota Sports 800 also competed with the Datsun Fairlady and the Daihatsu Compagno.
Here's the Toyota Sports 800, that won the 500 km racing event at Suzuka circuit back in 1966 had been restored by Gazoo Racing in 2019. (Picture from: OtoDriver)
The Toyota Sports 800 was quite popular among the young drivers of its time. For Your info, the Toyota Sports 800 itself is actually produced specifically for the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM), that's why it is very difficult to find this car abroad. As quoted of IdnTimes, there are about 300 units that have a left-hand drive configuration, this unit is reportedly made specifically for American soldiers whose at the time served in the US military base in Okinawa, and of the 300 units only a few were personally sent to US. 
The Toyota Sports 800 has been restored with half of the body being rebuilt with new materials and strengthening the rocker panels and suspension mounts so that return to prime even better than when used in racing back then. (Picture from: OtoDriver)
This car also had a success story in the Japanese motorsport scene at the time. One of them was in the Fuji 24 Hour endurance race in 1967, when the podium positions one, two and three were filled by three Toyota cars with the two leading positions occupied by two 2000GTs and the third occupied by the Sports 800. It's said that those three Toyota cars crossed the finish line in almost the same time.
Nowdays amazingly, 10 percent of total productions still exist until today (off course, most of them was in Japan) and are used as collection cars for automotive lovers or antique car lovers around the world. Many Toyota Sports 800 units that are damaged likely caused of the scarcity of spare parts made the damaged engine couldn't be fixed completely, and then rusting body due to it is made of thin metal. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | WIKIPEDIA | LANEMOTORMUSEUM ]
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