Toyota Corolla Turns 50

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Out of the thousands of cars that have ever been manufactured anywhere in the world, only nine models have stayed in production consistently for 50 years — and only two companies have achieved this level of success twice.

From the U.S., Ford Motor Company — the fifth largest automaker in the world — has done it with the Mustang, which was first unveiled at the World’s Fair in New York (1964/1965); and with their F-Series pickups which came onto the scene in 1948. Not surprisingly, Japanese industry leader Toyota holds the other spot in this lofty statistic. Their Land Cruiser has been around since 1951 when it originated as a military vehicle; and the Corolla entered production in 1966 (which motortrend.com reports incorrectly as 1968), making it the newest member of a very elite few.

Don’t be confused by the 50th Anniversary Edition Camry, which, in 2007, was a salute to the number of years that Toyota had been doing business in the U.S. and had nothing to do with the production history of the Camry.

50th Anniversary Edition Corolla

To celebrate this stellar accomplishment, Toyota has produced a 50th Anniversary Edition Corolla to be offered this fall in the U.S. as a way to emphasize the worldwide love for this car. Primarily based on the 2017 Corolla SE, the anniversary design introduces a delicious new black-cherry color scheme on the interior dashboard panel and door trim, contrast stitching of the upholstery, and the eye-catching new exterior paint (which is also available in Classic Silver and Blizzard Pearl).

Fifty years is a significant length of time to produce an automobile, and Toyota’s ability to remain at the top of the car game is directly linked to their unwavering pursuit to out-perform themselves. Here are the highlights on how the engineers approached each new Corolla generation:

1. 1966-1970

With a name that means, “crown of flowers,” the Corolla quickly became a favorite family car all around the world. It was almost as if the ad campaign tagline, “The most wanted car by the market …” was in truth, a prediction because three years later, the car reached the number one position in domestic sales.

2. 1970-1974

To change, or not to change? After realizing such a boon with the first generation Corolla, engineers rolled the dice on a new design that valued the feel of the previous model with a whole new set of bells, whistles and curves. Their gamble was rewarded immediately; by June 1970, Corolla’s cumulative production totaled one million units. Very impressive,considering it had only been on the market for a few years.

3. 1974-1979

Strict vehicle emissions regulations were implemented around the globe, so Toyota started a company-wide project that resulted in the perfection of a catalyst-based exhaust gas purification system, that to this day, remains the standard.

4. 1979-1983

Quality of life was taking a front seat in the fourth generation design which was reborn as a luxury family car with a superior performance overall. From January 1983 to March 1983, Toyota saw Corolla sales reach 116 nations, and go from 4.75 million units to 10 million.

5. 1983-1987

Always leading the way in technical innovations, Toyota offered a choice of drivetrains this time around. Front wheel drive conveyed a spacious, comfortable interior, and rear wheel drive provided an exciting, sporty experience. Once again, Corolla held the number one position in domestic sales.

6. 1987-1991

Satisfying the heart and mind, appealing to all five senses, was the primary focus of this generation’s design that sought to set a new global standard.

7. 1991-1995

A downward turn in the Japanese economy led consumers’ focus to shift from quality to price, and, despite the economic struggle, the Corolla maintained the top market share in its class.

8. 1995-2000

Energy savings and resource conservation paved the way to top-level fuel efficiency by way of substantial weight reductions, and environmental awareness by improving recyclability. Diesel engines were added for cleaner emissions.

9. 1997-2002

The basic Corolla concept was wiped away, and a European exterior design was adopted to rival the allure of higher grade vehicles. Talk of changing the Corolla name was quickly dashed by the developer.

10. 2006-2013

Providing customers with a “Happy Corolla for Our Planet” was the driving force behind the 10th generation’s design that relied on a global point of view with attention placed on safety, reliability and the environment. It was during this time that the Corolla was overtaken by the hybrid Prius as the top selling car in Japan. But did that mean it was now curtains for the Corolla?

11. 2013 –

The design goal is to stimulate wakudoki — a state of excitement about having fun derived from Japanese words waku waku and doki doki, and a heart that beats faster because of it — by exceeding customer expectations. The 11th generation Toyota Corolla is counting on this to keep this model delivering the same amazing results as the previous models in the last 50 years.

Japanese Car Auction Find: 1985 Toyota Corolla

The first car I drove in Japan was a 1992 seventh generation model. I was so impressed with its durability that I bought myself an eighth generation model. But when I went to look in the upcoming auctions, the oldest one I could find was nothing like 50 years old — it was a mere spring chicken from 1985 — a relatively young 31-year-old 5th generation model, but with an impressive mileage of under 26,000 KM on the clock. Let’s see what the auction sheet says.

“Grade 3.5, interior C, first registered October 1985, five-door model, five-speed manual gearbox, AC, gasoline engine, stone chips in front windshield, interior grime and cigarette burns and cigarette burn holes, steering wheel worn, rust underneath vehicle, left side has medium waves, rear gate damper is no good, radiator support and left front inner panel wrinkled, left front side member end has panel beating marks, scratches and dents and faded paintwork, paintwork worn on bonnet and on roof and on front fenders, right front indicator lens cracked, replaced panel and other marks as per map”

Its not in the best of conditions, but that is an impressive average mileage of under 1000KM per year.

1985 Toyota Corolla at auction in Japan -- interior

1985 Toyota Corolla at auction in Japan -- rear

1985 Toyota Corolla at auction in Japan -- auction sheet

1985 Toyota Corolla at auction in Japan -- front

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