Toyota Sports 800 was regarded as the Toyota’s first production sports car. The Toyota Publica Sports, a prototype for the Sports 800 was introduced at the Tokyo Auto Show in 1962. The vehicle shared the 28 hp (21 kW) powertrain with the Toyota Publica 700 and also featured a space age sliding canopy. The Toyota Sports 800 was fondly referred to as “Yota-Hachi”, a Japanese short form of “Toyota 8″.
The production of the car started in 1965 with chassis code UP15. Engine displacement was improved from 700cc to 800cc and dual carburetors were also introduced that raised the vehicle’s power from 28 hp (21 kW) to 45 hp (34 kW). The engine was more than enough to power the 580kg (1279 lb) vehicle at 45 mpg in the town while 100 mph (160 km/h) on a race track.
The aerodynamic styling of the vehicle was done mutually by a hired designer named Shozo Sato from Datsun and Toyota’s engineer Tatsuo Hasegawa. During the World War II, Hasegawa served as an aircraft designer and he with Sato made a vehicle that was not only fast but also lightweight.
A lift-out roof panel or targa top was introduced for the first time introduced on Sports 800, initially used in Porsche Targa. The aluminum targa top could be folded in the trunk, if not in use.
Almost 3131 units of Sports 800 were built under the contract by Kanto Auto Works from the 195 to 1969 (Showa year 40 to Showa year 44). Of those 3131 units, only 10% are supposed to have survived by now and that too in Japan.
The production distribution of the 3131 units on yearly based suggest that in 1965 1235 units were produced; 703 units were produced in 1966; 538 units were produced in 1967. In 1968, 440 units were produced while 215 units were produced in 1969.
Normally, the Sports 800 was built as right-hand drive, while there were some units produced as left-hand drive, especially for the Okinawa market. Okinawa was occupied by Americans after the war and drove on the left side, opposed to rest of Japan.
The vehicle was powered by an air-cooled 790 cc horizontally opposed 2-cylinder boxer engine. The models produced from 1965 to 1969 came with 0.8-L 2U engine generating 45 bhp at 5400 rpm. However, a closely related 2U-B engine was used from 1966 to 1976. According to the Dyna Coaster Bus manual, Toyota opted 2U-B engine as a separate secondary engine used to run the air conditioning unit. Toyota also used 2U-B engine in its other models including Publica (UP20/UP26) and MiniAce (UP100).
Toyota used aluminum body panels and a thin sheet of steel on the unibody assembly. In the beginning, the seat frames were also made of aluminum. These all features resulted in curb weight of 580 kg.
For the owners’ convenience, the registries are available on the Internet in both Japanese and American format so that they can register their vehicles online without any problem.
In 1979, the company also revealed unparalleled prototype Sports 800 Gas Turbine Hybrid at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1979.