with special thanks to William (Doc) Fox & Gordon Tobias
A few weeks ago, we got our hands on one of the coolest cars to ever grace the Wellesley Toyota showroom: the Toyota Sports 800, affectionately known in Japan as "Yota-Hachi".
Debuting at the 1962 Tokyo Auto Show, this is Toyota's first production sports car, and lasted from 1965 to 1969. Although it never made it to the United States, approximately 3,131 units were built, with less than 10% surviving today. A lot of the Sports 800's you'll see for sale online are old, beat up, and have been sitting in a barn for years collecting dust and rust.
While the Sports 800 mounts only a glorious 49 bhp 2-cylinder engine, it can still hit a top speed of 97 mph with an 18.4 second quarter mile, pretty impressive considering this car came out right after WWII. Even more impressive, this car can get 70mpg on open road driving! All this is made possible because of its featherweight 1,280 lb curb weight and innovative technology like its detachable Targa top and aluminum body composition.
So you may ask, why do we have one of these awesome cars?
It all started a little over a year ago with a good friend of ours: William (Doc) Fox. He happens to collect vintage sports cars, including his very own Toyota Sports 800, and actually offered to let us display it at our Grand Opening Celebration (which is coming up this week!). Obviously, we were honored to have the opportunity to show off Toyota's very first production sports car at the Grand Opening of our shiny new facility.
As fate would have it, Doc actually came across an individual in the vintage car collecting community who was offering a Toyota Sports 800 for sale, to which we promptly said YES.
After buying the car on November 14, 2011, we began the long process of restoring it to its former glory, with Doc putting us in touch with Gordan Tobias from Pennsylvania to do the restoration. After seeing his work on this car, Gordon Tobias is truly amazing and I think he can take any car and make it look beautiful. After nearly a year of Gordon working on the interior and mechanical restoration as well as some body work done at our sister store, Cambridge Auto Center, you can see the finished product below!
One of the mantras of Doc and our GM Nai (who sought out the car in the first place) is that you should only collect cars that we can DRIVE. Cars aren't meant to just sit inside and collect dust. The fact that this car can still look this awesome and drive great after 65 years is a testament to how reliable and durable Toyotas are and have always been. The car is also symbolic of how innovative Toyota was back then and still is today, with the revolutionary Targa top that pre-dates Porsche's version, lightweight aluminum and steel body composition, a horizontally opposed 2-cylinder engine, and unbelievable fuel economy.
Plus, it'll make for a fantastic showroom piece! Check out pics of the restoration and final product below:
Our poor Sports 800 looking sad all stripped down:
Engine looking a little worse for the wear:
The restored engine. Looks a million times better:
Driver's side looking beat up. Note the cracked glass in the steering wheel:
Driver's side looking GOOD:
Beautifully restored leather and interior:
The Sports 800 on its way east from California:
At Cambridge Auto Center:
And our very own Toyota Sports 800 at Wellesley Toyota in all its glory: