What Toyota’s First Sports Car Did Before The Porsche 911 Targa

So Toyota has the reputation of being a legendary automobile manufacturer. Successful in everything they do, whether it’s sports cars, pickup trucks or even small hatchbacks, their engineering power is nearly unmatched. Their latest car to hit the headlines, the GR Yaris, is a great example of this, affordable and unlike almost anything on the market. The automotive community is desperately awaiting Gazoo Racing’s next product, the highly anticipated GR Corrolla.

But before all that and long before the Celica, Supra and MR2, Toyota produced the Sports 800. Derived from the Publica compact sedan, the Sports 800 is a small, lightweight coupe. With an 800cc engine that produces 45 horsepower, it doesn’t sound fast. But weighing only around 1,260 pounds, it doesn’t take much. Launched before the 2000GT, it defined the design motifs of this small car.

This Japanese classic started Toyota’s sporting history.

What are the special features of the Toyota Sports 800?

Besides being similar in size to a Kei car, the Sports 800 is an incredibly original and special car. YouTube channel number 27 reveals that the air-cooled twin is disconcerting to drive because instead of sounding like a Japanese car, it looks like a European engine like that of the classic Fiat 500.

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The Sports 800’s most obvious quirk is the roof. A Targa roof, so a hardtop that the owner can remove, like on a 911 Targa. According to Porsche, the Targa exists as “neither convertible nor coupé, neither hardtop nor sedan, but something completely new: the world’s first rollover convertible with a fixed roll bar”. This quote is taken from the 1965 Frankfurt Motor Show. However, Toyota unveiled their version of the design in 1962. The Targa roof is a great piece of design. Offering the benefits of a coupe and convertible before hardtop automatic convertibles hit the market. The only downside to the Targa is that the roof is manual.


What did the Toyota Sports 800 compete against?


Toyota Sports 800 side view
Number 27 via YouTube

Back in the days of the Sports 800, Honda’s S-series cars were more advanced than the little Toyota. Issue 27 speaks of the S600 and S800 as more advanced than the Toyota with 20 more horsepower. This did not act as a hindrance for Toyota. They used new materials to keep their overall weight low. Aluminum body panels are a luxury that many companies like Jaguar have only relatively recently embraced.

RELATED: Hagerty and Jason Cammisa Tell Us About the Honda S800

In a peculiar move, the car left the factory in left-hand and right-hand drive. However, this model sold domestically, not internationally. According to number 27, it was because the United States controlled the island of Okinawa. Here, people drove on the right like in the United States. Eager to expand into overseas markets, the brand produces cars for those stationed in Japan. This means there are perfect examples to import to the USA as something a little different in the JDM scene.



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