YODAHACHI — 1965 Toyota Sports 800 | Hemmings Motor News

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YODAHACHI — 1965 Sports 800

The lightweight, air-cooled-boxer-twin-powered 800 is the genesis of all sporting Toyotas. We it

Feature Article from Sports Exotic Car

Since immemorial, sports cars been built on sedan and mechanicals. And why not? It’s inexpensive to do, and you’ll build a fun that will get everyone The first Corvette was built on a Bel Air frame; the Triumph Herald the Spitfire and GT6; the VW Rabbit guts with the Scirocco in the

And so it was in Japan, where Toyota’s 800 was a zippier version of the Publica. To why it is what it is, we have to go back to when Japan’s Ministry of Trade and Industry suggested the nation’s car companies get together and a national car. Parameters a top speed over 100 KPH, consumption not to exceed one liter per 30 at 60 KPH (roughly 72 MPG) on a level weight less than 400 kg pounds!), and a requirement that it require major repairs 100,000 km. There was also of a tax break for sub-500cc cars. The balked, but in the years to follow, was a determined effort to get cars the lower end of the Japanese market.

was already famous for its Crown, the car that was entirely engineered and in Japan (rather than a European knock-down kit or licensed And so, there was initial interest in the sedan, a bare-bones front-engine, two-door, four-seat sedan by a 697cc, 28hp, air-cooled, engine. It was a sparse little Though there was room for there was no radio or heater, as options, for your 389,000 yen (a more than $1,000). at it, you’d be forgiven if you thought it was a Still, it had a double-wishbone front (traditional leaf springs the rear), and Toyota thought it enough that it got its own dealership An air-cooled VW had roughly the same and it weighed 50 percent more the Publica. Yet sales initially Japanese customers still saw the as an aspirational item rather a basic need. Expectations higher, and sales were

But the Publica spawned the sporting seen on these pages: the 800, named in deference to its and its displacement. Launched in 1965, a 800cc engine (as seen in the Publica) had 36 horsepower, but the twin-single-barrel and intake boosted things to a 44.4 horsepower (45 PS on the German scale; English-language Toyota insists on 49 SAE horsepower, but there’s to suggest a reason for the paper bump. Our calculated data the lower number).

Nicknamed (Yoda, as in Toyota, Hachi, as in the pronunciation of the number eight), its were realized by Toyota Tatsuo Hasegawa, an aircraft in WWII, and Shozo Sato, a whose career was largely with Nissan. To keep down, a judicious use of aluminum the trunklid, hood, roof and seat frames; what aluminum was thin-gauge steel. The 800 sported a removable roof before Butzi Porsche’s ever graced a Frankfurt The nose, which has more a whiff of 2000GT about it, a grille with manually shutters to allow the engine to up faster in cooler weather. while the bulk of the body was and low, there’s ample area, and tall enough pillars, to fit most drivers

A few left-hand-drive versions were stateside to test market but Toyota had second thoughts; the 800 never sold here, and the of them were built the steering wheel on the right. As cars were premium and as there was competition from the S500, the (admittedly larger) Fairlady, and even the Daihatsu before the marque was absorbed Toyota, relatively few were just 3,131 between and 1969. More than a of these sold in its debut 1965.

It could touch 100 MPH on a long Yet economy was never far from the 800 designers’ minds: Light a small engine and a slippery, shape meant that could advertise a 31-kilometer-per-liter consumption. Converted to English that’s just south of 73 eye-opening figure for sure. a race-prepared Sports 800 ran the first enduro event at Suzuka, in consuming nine kilometers per over 21 MPG. A larger tank allowed the Sports 800 to out of the pits for the duration of the event, it a chance against more machines ranging from the S600 to the Lotus Elan to the Skyline.

Its appearance on American is rare, though not so rare there isn’t a Yahoo Groups board dedicated to the and feeding of these remarkable, beasties. Rich Street, who the Yahoo group, estimates there are maybe a dozen in the States, and maybe 300 worldwide A lot of them rusted out because of the steel, he says. A lot of them to right-hand-drive countries with climates, and they didn’t Stateside, no one could get parts—and a lot of were pulled out, something else installed in place. Cars in original are very rare these

The silver example seen belongs to Joji Luz of Redondo California; Joji runs one of Southern California’s most repositories for old-school Toyota and parts. (His double-digit collection also includes the Toyota Celica built—see January ’12, and Soarer—see September ’13.) This is my second Sports 800. The one I got a decade ago; a friend a ’66 for me, and two years later, it was painted and restored, I picked it up and it. But I really wanted the first-year 800, a ’65. I heard it through the Toyota 700 and 800 newsgroup on and it was already here. It ran fine for its and the body was straight, but the paint was It felt more original my ’66, however. I finally got it in 2009 or so, and I sold the ’66 after.

With barely 3,000 getting a Sports 800 looking isn’t as simple as opening the and filling out an order form. I had parts even before I got it. are some NOS parts floating the Japanese online auction a few reproduction parts float there too. But if you need like trim, especially in country, it helps to know the in the Yahoo group. A lot of them parts cars. Many of have parts that on Joji’s Sports 800 today, appears new save for the one-inch-wider wheels on contemporary Yokohama

And so we went for a drive, with the riding shotgun. Now, we confess, sliding into the 800 frightened us a little bit. author is a 6-foot-1 widebody who the scales on the wrong side of bills; that presence adds a quarter to the Sports overall curb weight. mind the driving impression. I even fit? The answer is snugly. Six thumbscrews remove the panel, which helps and egress. The door opens enough, and is hinged far enough that no awkward body is needed. This helps you sit in a 800 top-down, if you will—clamber in, then your … into the feet shooting forward the pedals. The footwell is plenty for even Size 12EEEs to around all three pedals, but the are located for the short of leg. A crossmember that intrudes the cabin and looks to be an impediment to is far back enough that it intrude. The remaining roof that connects with the will also connect the back of taller drivers’ and it isn’t padded.

The cobalt-faced gauges are clear and the wheel is thin and a touch in diameter than you might prudent, and the seats accommodate American frames just without pinching. You’ll to drive with your arm crooked out the roll-down window, No radio, no console, nothing to add or take away from little space there is in the as a result, a Sports 800 feels far inside than you’d it had a right to.

Twist the key, and VW air-cooled 911 and Subaru owners recognize the distinctive boxer under that lightweight You’re always conscious of small in a Sports 800, but never worried about in the way. Granted, 50 horsepower is going to separate muscle bone under acceleration; driver and passenger adding 40 to the Sports 800’s structure, it well enough, pulling through to redline without out of breath. A 70 MPH cruise in fourth at 4,000 RPM, well the 5,500 RPM redline. First was not in the 1965-model gearboxes, so you always to come to a complete stop selecting low gear. Luckily, the are light, with the clutch easy to modulate from the of the pedal’s travel. On our drive, the into second was 50/50: the time we got it in, half the time we gears. The shifter is short save for perhaps the long 2-3 but it’s not about to walk into gear for you; it guidance and a deliberate hand.

Its pinch-its-cheeks cuteness may lull you an impression of style over but there’s a reason the word is in its name; it has a hunger for corners belies its bantamweight frame. The is impossibly light, even at and manages to be quick without nervous. Turns that be taken in second gear are in third, such is the momentum it There is body lean. and else. Not bad, considering a of the monocoque (the roof was absent for our drive. No tire no apparent body flex, Just point and shoot.

The day of our the carbs weren’t synched up yet even with that we were never an impediment on the Lines of traffic never off behind us into the shoreline of southern Los Angeles county. The 7.5-inch drums were tested enough for them to up, despite the size of the driver and the of the hills, and were easily


Today, the Sports 800 is so admired at that it has been inducted the Japan Automotive Hall of one of only two cars to have inducted into a hall of that generally celebrates more than the cars The Sports 800 is a famous historical that left a great on automotive history. the reasons choosing the Toyota Sports 800 due to its concept, ‘a sports car for its monocoque construction, its adoption of a body to reduce air resistance, the use of alloy for the roof panel to its weight, and its appearance in many scenes.

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Yet in the States, even at Toyota that populate Southern it remains an oddity. Even so, as the Toyota sports car, a car predated the 2000GT and the marque’s victories in virtually every it ever competed in, it deserves The fact that it’s an fun-to-drive machine, too, is beside the point.

1965 800

Owner’s Story

The Sports 800 was first sports car—it out even before the 2000GT. For a it seemed impossible, especially the age of the internet. How would I even one? It used to be so hard to them; in the early ’80s, a guy to bring one in, went through the and found out it couldn’t be registered, and it got Now it’s old enough, and the rules been relaxed a little; they started to show up. a very basic small it’s unique-looking, and for me, having the year from Toyota’s sports car was a must.

-Joji Luz

1965 Sports 800

ENGINE

— Horizontally opposed, flat-twin

Displacement — (48.2-cu.in.)

Bore x … 83mm x 73mm

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