Toyota Gazoo Racing has come to the fore of late. A team with that name won the grueling Dakar Rally a few weeks ago. Added to that, there have been a few high-performance models carrying the ‘GR’ badge, such as the recently released Toyota Supra and Yaris GRMN (click here to read our review of the zooty little hatch). In this case, we have an older model, known as the Toyota Sports 800 GR Concept, from the division of the Japanese auto giant.

History lesson

The Toyota Sports 800 was the first commercially available Toyota sportscar. It was manufactured from 1965 to 1969. In 1966, at the first Suzuka 500 km race a Sports 800 model claimed a 1-2 finish against much more powerful and illustrious rivals. In part, the car’s success came down to lightweight aluminium construction, as it tipped the scales at just 580 kg. It was also designed with aerodynamics in mind and could top out at 155 km/h.

The road-going Sports 800 featured a flat-twin engine. For the race version, this was ditched and replaced with an uprated power unit. Higher compression pistons, a performance camshaft, a ported intake manifold, and a larger carburettor resulted in 70 horsepower (just over 50 kW). A larger fuel tank was added for endurance racing.

The restoration

A few years ago Toyota staff found a Sports 800 wreck. After a bit of homework they realised it was the winning car from 1966; chassis number UP 15-10007. Toyota’s factory racing outfit, Gazoo Racing, undertook a full restoration along with a few modifications.

Gazoo Racing had to fabricate many new body parts for the Toyota Sports 800 GR Concept as original items were beyond repair. At the same time, the team decided to make the car a little safer. Reinforced suspension pickup points to make the chassis stiffer. Bespoke dampers were fabricated to match the car’s mass and power. The interior was completely refurbished, but still looks period correct. The engine was also rebuilt, but to near original specification.

We may have left the modern-looking graphics package off the Toyota Sports 800 GR Concept, but we are just glad to see the little racer restored to its former glory.