The changes that 68 years can produce


#1

Toyota has been the world’s leading vehicle manufacturer for at least a couple of years.
To see how they resurrected themselves in the aftermath of WW II, take a look at this little article that I found in a 1948 copy of Popular Science.
Also, take note of how–in the immediate aftermath of the war–we were still referring to them in print as “Japs”.

(Hopefully I didn’t screw-up in my attempt to post this PDF!)


#2

I remember Tom McCahill of Mechanix Illustrated, referring to the first ones in the US, the Toyopet, as a bit of a joke. His favorite cars then were the Lincoln and the Cadillac.

The Corona in 1966 was the first serious Japanese car; it could cruise all day at highway speeds without burning out the engine, something small British and French cars could not. The interiors were still cramped and the bodies were as rust-prone as other cars.


#3

If I remember correctly someone from Toyota tried to drive one of their early models from California to New York and had enough break downs it made them realize that the quality control needed to improve.


#4

Even the 1973 Corolla was a quality compromise. The mechanical parts on mine lasted for 16 years and over 160k miles other than one wheel bearing and toward the end I fried three cylinders driving too fast and hard keeping up on the interstate commute. (Did a cylinder job and kept rolling a few more years.) However, that hamster powered buggy had zero comfort features and rusted at astonishing speed. Half the body was Bondo with spray paint by the time it was retired.


#5

I had a 73 Corolla that only lasted 2-3 years with major rust and mechanical problems.


#6

By 1967 Toyota had a successful dealership here in a Mississippi town of less than 25,000. The 4 door sedan with an automatic transmission and dealer installed air was cheaper than a VW Beetle and the owner of the dealership had a good reputation in the used car business when he took on the Toyota. Several friends got one of the Toyotas when graduating from high school. It was amazing that more veterans didn’t object to the importation of Japanese and German cars.


#7

Interesting. I Took My Hand And Covered Little More Than Bumper, Grille, And Headlights, Of The Front-End Of The Passenger Car, In The Photo. What Remains Looks Somewhat Similar To A Volkswagen Beetle.

Coincidence or inspiration?

Those prices must have made cars cost-prohibitive to most Japanese citizens. They seem outlandish!
CSA


#8

^
If you reference a photo of the Volvo 444, which was introduced in 1947, I think you will agree with me that the Toyota sedan in the photo is much more similar to the Volvo, than to a VW Beetle. In fact, it looks to me like a rather crude clone of that Volvo model.

Yes, the prices were truly prohibitive for the average person in a war-torn country. Those prices–IIRC–are almost 5 times the cost of a Ford/Chevy/Plymouth in The US at that time. I imagine that the scarcity of raw materials in Japan was the major reason for those outlandish prices.


#9

"If you reference a photo of the Volvo 444, which was introduced in 1947, I think you will agree with me that the Toyota sedan in the photo is much more similar to the Volvo, than to a VW Beetle."
I’ll try and check it out, took me like half an hour to download the Toyota article.

I Could Have Used A Set Of Those Studebaker Seat Stiffeners In My 76 Luv Truck. I’m Not Overweight, But That Bench Seat Was A POS.
CSA


#10

"If you reference a photo of the Volvo 444, which was introduced in 1947, I think you will agree with me that the Toyota sedan in the photo is much more similar to the Volvo, than to a VW Beetle."
I did. Because of the windshield and sloping hood, It looks like traits of both.
CSA


#11

Jews objected to VWs in the USA. A college friend is Jewish, and his father owned three car dealerships in NYC. He couldn’t use his last name on the VW dealership because of the backlash among the local Jewish population. I discovered this almost 30 years after the end of WWII.


#12

"Jews objected to VWs in the USA."
And For Good reason! The Volkswagen (The Peoples’ Car) Beetle, designed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, was Hitler’s baby.
CSA


#13

Interesting, thanks for posting OP. I was struck by the prices too, quite expensive vehicles for the time. Although if a person owned one now in show condition, wowza, what a highly valued classic that would be!


#14

From 1947 Toyopet was the name the cars and light trucks sold by Toyota. The name was dropped in the US in 1957 but continued in other markets for a while.


#15

A local Arab man bought a Chevy dealership and changed the name of it to his last name. He also made his own TV commercials promoting his dealership. This was right after the 9-11 attacks. I don’t think his dealership lasted a year. He should have called it Niagara Chevrolet and hired a celebrity to make the ads.


#16

@“oldtimer 11”

“He should have called it Niagara Chevrolet and hired a celebrity to make the ads.”

I profoundly disagree with you

That man has every right to use his own name, and he should be proud of it

If people don’t want to buy from an Arab car dealer in the USA, they are actually the ones with the problem(s)

I would have no problem buying from that man, provided I felt I was getting a fair deal. If I feel somebody is giving me a raw deal, I will shop elsewhere. I don’t really care where the guy is from, or what he may look like.

I realize that emotions were raw right after 9-11. . . but that’s not ANY excuse for many people to act the way(s) they did. No excuse whatsoever


#17

I wish I still had my '76 Corolla. It ran flawlessly for the six years I had it, until my growing family mandated a bigger car. And it was enjoyable, very cheap to own, had great seats, and was pleasant to drive.


#18

I think some may have a problem with Fords too but there comes a time when the past becomes past. I’ve even warmed up to Mitsubishi.


#19

Yes, there comes a time when you gotta let the past be in the past. Some of us here even drive cars built by Yankees.


#20

I owned a 1972 Toyota Corolla and it was one of the worst cars on the planet. I also owned a 1976 Celica GT and it was one of the best cars that I’ve ever owned.