1969 Shelby 2000 GT
Toyota recognised that success in the USA was vital in establishing the car’s quality on an international level and decided it should be entered in SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) competition to demonstrate its abilities against potential showroom rivals such as the Porsche 911, Lotus Elan and Triumph 250.
Initially, Peter Brock, designer of the Cobra Daytona, was to be tasked with the job of preparing the cars, but at the last minute a deal was struck with racing legend Carroll Shelby, Brock’s former boss and the mastermind behind the high-performance versions of the AC Cobra and Ford Mustang.
Driven by Scooter Patrick and Dave Jordan, the 2000GT competed in the production class of the SCCA series in 1968. Even though the Toyota had less power that its main rival, the Porsche 911, it still recorded a number of race victories, with Patrick and Jordan finishing the series second and third in the championship respectively.
That single season was to be the end of the 2000GT’s American racing adventure, the production version of the car not achieving the sales breakthrough Toyota sought in the US market. Where motor sport was concerned, the focus was now on development of the formidable Toyota 7 sports car for CanAm competition.