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This Day in Automotive History: Toyota Opens for Business in the US


If you love Toyota, you could have bought the very first model on this day in 1957.

The Toyota Corrolla may be the best selling passenger car in US history but you would have never had guessed it on this day in 1957, when the company first opened it's doors to the US public at an old dealership in Hollywood, California. At the time, Americans were enjoying a period of economic prosperity where the average middle class family had plenty of disposable income for a lavish car. American car companies responded, producing large cars designed to attract attention.

These cars, however, weren't easy to drive or park, and even though gas was cheap, owning two of them was considered expensive. A relatively small automaker in Japan saw this as a golden opportunity to bring its Toyota Toyopet Crown Sedan, a smaller, cheaper second car, to the masses. The Toyopet was a gas guzzling flop that shook violently on the road and was too small for most Americans to fit in comfortably. It was killed off in 1961 and Toyota struggled until they debuted the more American focused Corona in 1965 and the Corolla in 1968. Both were big hits that led the way for Toyota to sell it's one-millionth car by 1972, become the best selling US import brand by 1975, and sell 200 million vehicles by 2012.

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