Toyota’s Sports 800 was the company’s first attempt at building a sports car. Even by mid-1960s Japanese standards, it was a modest effort; after all, the production version made only 45 horsepower from its 800-cc, twin-cylinder boxer engine.
Still, that was enough to get the targa-roof coupe to a top speed of 100 miles per hour, thanks to the car’s aluminum construction and curb weight of just 1,279 pounds. While some 3,100 Sports 800 models were built between 1965 and 1969, few were exported and only about 300 survivors remain today.
Without the Sports 800, later Toyota sports cars like the range-topping 2000 GT and Supra might never have existed. That’s why this video, found on Cars UK, is so significant: it shows both Toyota’s first sports car, alongside of Toyota’s reborn sports car, the new GT 86/ Scion FR-S.
Both are lightweight coupes with modest horsepower and nimble handling, but that’s where the similarities end. While small by modern standard, the new GT 86 positively dwarfs the Sports 800, and it’s difficult to imagine driving something that small on public roads. Clearly, the Sports 800 was designed for a different time and a different place.
The video is a fitting tribute to the car, and it embraces the Japanese concept of honoring one’s ancestors. We hope that 46 years from now, there’s a follow-up video, featuring the 2012 GT 86 next to Toyota’s latest lightweight sports coupe effort.
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