Japanese car giant Toyota celebrated the golden anniversary of its biggest hit, the Toyota Corolla, launched as an everyman vehicle on Nov. 5, 1966. Five decades and 11 generations later, the Corolla has achieved worldwide status as one of the most iconic, easily recognizable cars with 44.3 million in sales to its name.
The Corolla was a calculated risk on the part of Toyota, released in Japan's post-war economy when many devastated families were still struggling to recover. But it was designed precisely with the average family in mind, its affordability and usability the prime components, and almost instantly became their car of choice.
On a press release issued the day it premiered in Japan, Toyota promised it would be "the most accessible car" to hit the country's market. Resonating with consumers, it became the nation's best-selling car just three years later, a distinction it continued to hold for three more decades after.
The Corolla is now being produced in 13 countries and has entered the markets of over 150. Notably, Reuters reported that it is the current runner-up on the list of best-selling passenger cars in the United States this year (Toyota's Camry is No. 1), despite shrinking appeal in Japan.
Before the Corolla became an object of public affection, Toyota attempted a car for the masses five years earlier in the form of the Publica. But Shiro Sasaki, chief engineer of the 2nd and 3rd generation Corolla, said the vehicle lacked an appealing form despite plenty of substance.
Making swift changes, Toyota sought to marry the best of both worlds by creating a car that was both affordable and sporty. Thus, the two-door Corolla was born, together with an equally ambitious plan to mass-produce the car at an unprecedented rate, reported Autoweek.
This original Corolla was the brainchild of Tatsuo Hasegawa, whose experience in designing warplanes were evident in elements of the car similar to aircraft aerodynamics. He designed the car with a 4-speed manual transmission and a 1,100 cc engine, making it faster and more powerful than most rivals at the time.
Up to today, the Corolla brand remains the same: It is the car of young families and the up-and-coming; the car of good value. To learn more, visit the website Toyota made as a tribute to Corolla's fifty wildly successful years.