Who would have thought that the Sports 800 – a car with such small proportions and Toyota’s first production sports car – would have such a big influence on future Toyotas. Affectionately known as Yota-Hachi – a shortened Japanese form for ‘Toyota 8’ – the Sports 800 was first shown at the 1962 Tokyo Motor Show as the prototype Toyota Publica Sports concept.
With a featherweight approach, combined with a gutsy horizontally-opposed 790cc engine that drove the rear wheels, the Sports 800 lived up to its creator’s vision of delivering a responsive drive with remarkable fuel consumption, as low as 3.8 litre/per 100km. As a sign of how far Toyota’s Hybrid innovation extends, an innovative Sports 800 GT Hybrid, equipped with a gas turbine engine powering an electric motor, was shown at the Tokyo Motor Show in the late 1970s.
With its popularity in domestic motorsports – thanks to its reliability and fuel efficiency – the Sports 800 scooped third position in the 1967 Fuji 24-hour race (fittingly behind two Toyota 2000GTs) and will be fondly remembered, not only as Toyota’s first production sports car, but a real driving enthusiasts’ sports car.