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Toyota Sports 800 GR Concept Is A Classic Restored

Classic Cars / 5 Comments

Gazoo Racing doesn't just do new cars.

With models like the new Supra and the Yaris GRMN, Toyota's getting serious about its Gazoo Racing lineup for the road. But it's not just its latest production models that are getting the GR treatment.

For its latest project, the Japanese automaker's performance department has unearthed a classic in need of some tender loving care and thoroughly worked it over. It's a 1966 Toyota Sports 800, a pint-size sports coupe that was one of the company's earliest models. And we really dig what the tinkers at Gazoo have done with it.

The Sports 800 originally debuted at the 1962 Tokyo Auto Show as the Publica Sports concept, envisioned as a slinkier counterpart to the Publica sedan family. Evidently well received, Toyota contracted Kanto Auto Works to build it, boring out its 700cc two-cylinder engine to 800cc (that's still less than a full liter) to produce all of 45 metric horsepower.

Little over 3,000 of them were made between 1965 and 1969, exclusively for the Japanese Domestic Market, with only a few hundred known to have survived. This particular example was one of four that competed in the first endurance race at Suzuka in 1966.

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As Toyota found in the course of its restoration, it had been upgraded with competition-spec components and its chassis beefed up for long-distance racing. But it had been left to rot in the half-century since it was made. So the folks at Gazoo had to recraft half of the sheet metal. And when they were done, as you can see, they resprayed it with a modern racing livery – not unlike what we've seen on the company's rally cars and endurance-racing prototypes. The finished product isn't about to outclass the new Supra, but we'd bet it punches a bit above its weight.