For over 86 years, Toyota has been a titan of the automotive industry. The company was originally named “Toyoda” after creator Sakichi Toyoda, but was later changed to “Toyota” due to pronunciation issues. It’s actually all thanks to the Japanese government that Toyota got its start; the company was supported in the early stages due to its military application.
After Japan halted nearly all imports in 1936, Toyoda’s son, Kiichiro, took the reins of the company. From there, he went on to create vehicles with two cylinders. From there, his designs were replaced with outlines matching the design of the Chevrolet 65 hp straight-six, which also included aspects similar to the Chrysler Airflow.
By 1934, Toyota had produced their first engine; by 1935, the company had made their first car and truck. Unfortunately, the company was split off only two short years later in 1937.
The company expands
Following the conclusion of World War II, Toyota was given the green light by the U.S. military to begin peacetime production. Using the knowledge they gained from the American industrial training program, they were able to continue making automobiles to fit the needs of the consumers. One such product was the Toyopet, otherwise known as the Model SA. This vehicle was made specifically to be able to drive through the rough terrains of Japan post-war. Even though only 215 Toyopets were produced, Toyota raked in over $8,400 annually by 1955, and a whopping $600,000 annually by 1965.
In the following years, Toyota began mass-producing more commercial cars, such as the Toyota Land Cruiser and the Bantam. Their first luxury vehicle, the Crown, was introduced in 1958.
In 1957, Toyota established its first international headquarters in Hollywood. Toyota President Shotaro Kamiya was present at the ceremony and was the one to install the California license plate on the first vehicle to be registered in the U.S.
At first, the company tried to integrate their successful Japanese cars into the American market. Unfortunately, the Land Cruiser and the Toyopet did not make the successful splash Toyota was hoping for. So, they focused their efforts to create a car specifically for their American fanbase. As a result, the Avalon and Camry were created.
Toyota finally caught a break with trying to merge their Japanese designs with their American designs, and this came in the form of the Tiara, also known as the Corona. This vehicle came with significant passenger room and a 90 horsepower engine, providing solid performance, comfort and excellent gas mileage. The Crown also made it’s way over to the American markets, and was offered as a sedan or wagon. By this time in 1967, Toyota had become an established car company within the United States.
Trucks soon began appearing for sale, such as the 2000GT, in the late 60s. The now-popular Toyota Corolla also made it’s first appearance around the same time, and was imported to the U.S. in 1969. In 1985, the Corolla staked it’s claim in the company’s history by being the first Toyota to be made in the U.S.
Since its start in 1934, Toyota has made huge strides in becoming one of the most popular and well-known car brands within the American marketplace. With over 5.5 million vehicles produced yearly and a reputation for dependability and stellar performance, it’s safe to say this brand has exceeded their goal of making a name for themselves in the United States, and maybe even the world.