In 1965, Toyota released the Sports 800 (also referred to as “Yota-Hachi”, short for Toyota 8). The Yota-Hachi is often mistaken as the younger brother of the Toyota 2000GT but actually it was released 2 years earlier. Sports cars of that time usually relied on a powerful engine for performance but the development focus of the Yota-Hachi was lighter weight and aerodynamics. Both head of development Mr. Tatsuo Hasegawa and head of design Mr. Shozo Sato were involved in aircraft design during the war were able to apply their knowledge in this field.
With its streamlined form from applied aerodynamic theories of aircraft design that reduced aerodynamic drag, the Yota-Hachi stood out in contrast to boxy mainstream cars. The mechanics were based on reinforced versions of components used in Toyota’s basic “Publica” model. The horizontally opposed 790cc 2-cylinder engine with twin carburetors produced 45ps / 6.8kgm and combined with a 4-speed manual transmission. For the first time in Japan, the ultralight body featured an aluminum exterior for a total car weight of only 590kg.
Although the engine was less powerful than its local rival, the Honda S600, the ultra –lightweight design and aerodynamics produced a faster maximum speed of 155 km/h. The Yota-Hachi also achieved a degree of success in motorsports, particularly in endurance racing with its fuel economy delivering an advantage over larger engine cars.
After being discontinued in 1969, a Toyota Sports 800 prototype with hybrid gas turbine + motor was put on display at the 1977 Tokyo Motor Show. This model is regarded as the ancestor to the Toyota Hybrid.
As a side note, when the Toyota 86 was developed, development manager Tetsuya Tada, said he used the Yota-Hachi as a reference point. "I went to the developer Kanto Automobile and was impressed by how well thought out the blueprint design was. In other words, the Toyota 86 shape has some hints of the Yota-Hachi". This demonstrates how advanced the Yota-Hachi was at the time.
Automotive Expert Shinya Yamamoto