A 1967 Toyota 2000 GT raced by Shelby American went under the hammer at a Gooding & Company auction held during last week's Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, with the final price paid for the car coming in at $2.535 million. That was slightly below the estimate of between $2.75 million and $3.5 million.

By the late 1960s, the partnership between Carroll Shelby and Ford that produced the Cobra and GT40 was beginning to unravel, so Shelby went looking for other prospects. Toyota, meanwhile, was looking to establish its credibility in the U.S. through motorsports.

The Japanese automaker's weapon of choice was the 2000 GT. One of Japan's first sports cars, it boasted a 2.0-liter inline-6 (a 2.3-liter inline-6 was later added) originally from the Toyota Crown but modified by Yamaha to produce 150 hp. That got the 2,4000-pound coupe to a top speed of 137 mph.

1967 Toyota-Shelby 2000 GT (photo via Gooding & Company)

1967 Toyota-Shelby 2000 GT (photo via Gooding & Company)

Just 351 cars were built between 1967 and 1970, with about 60 imported to the U.S. Shelby American prepared three cars for SCCA C-Production racing. This car—chassis MF10-10001—was the first serial-numbered 2000 GT built, according to the auction listing. Originally Solar Red with right-hand drive, it was one of the show cars Toyota used for the 2000 GT's U.S. launch.

The racing program only lasted one season, after which MF10-100001 was retired. It passed between different car collections and was acquired by its current owner in 1980, who restored to its racing configuration. It's been shown at many high-profile events, including the Goodwood Festival of Speed and previous Amelia Island Concours events.

Any 2000 GT is rare and desirable, attracting high auction prices. One sold for $912,500 at a 2020 auction, for example. This car's historical significance as part of Toyota's first U.S. racing program was always going to push the hammer price even higher.