Toyota Corolla Turns 50 Today – Flashback to the 1966 Tokyo Motor Show

By Steve & Tamami Laser; with Nahoko Osuka reporting from Japan

Where were you on this day in 1966? We were kids growing up worlds apart in California and Japan. Small Japanese cars like the Toyota Corona were starting to catch on in the U.S. while the big news in Japan was the introduction of the first Corolla.

66tcor1The Corolla made headlines at Toyota’s display during the 13th Tokyo Motor Show held from Oct. 26 to Nov. 8 at Harumi Fairgrounds. More than 1.5 million people visited the show that year where Toyota exhibited the Corolla 1100 Deluxe, the 2000GT sports car (that made its debut the previous year) and other models.

66tcor2A news release issued by Toyota on Oct. 20 said: “The Toyota Corolla is a five-passenger vehicle from Japan that is positioned as the ‘most accessible car’ in the market. In the development of the Corolla, Toyota’s engineers have spent years bringing together the best of the company’s technologies to offer to the public.”

66tcor3“This car has been designed to become a main fixture across Japanese society. It is fitted with a powerful water-cooled inline-four engine boasting 1,077 cc and 60 horsepower which provides a level of performance, and a vehicle class that goes above and beyond. The Corolla is packed with new features where its acceleration exceeds that of European cars within the same vehicle class. The Corolla is truly a high-performance Japanese compact car.”

66tcor5The real performance Corollas would come later, along with millions and millions of production units. The Corolla was introduced in the U.S. for 1968. Toyota says the Corolla is now being produced in 13 countries, and over 1.3 million units are sold annually in more than 150 countries. With a record 44 million units sold globally to date, the Toyota Corolla has established itself as the world’s best-selling car of all-time.

In a press release issued today in Japan, Toyota says, “During the last 50 years, customers from all around the world have come to share the same love for the Corolla; and the Corolla development team has consistently worked hard to meet and exceed their expectations.”

66tcortam1While we were too young to see the first Corolla, we have seen this beautifully restored 1966 model at the Toyota Automobile Museum in Nagakute, Japan, several times. And we’ve been very fortunate to visit nearly every Tokyo Motor Show since 1993.

Toyota has launched a special website in Japan (in English, too) commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Corolla: “We would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the past 50 years of the Corolla, through stories told by those who have been part of the Corolla journey,” says Toyota.

According to the automaker, this special website features various aspects of the Corolla, including customer memories, the history of the vehicle, comments from those charged with developing the car and more. Content is planned to be posted in stages, so visit the site often.

Corolla 50th Anniversary Special Website 


Just for fun, check out this historical video from Toyota showing its displays and new model intros at Tokyo Motor Shows from the show’s humble beginnings in 1954 to 2013. The Tokyo Motor Show is held every other year with the next edition scheduled for October 2017. (video: Toyota)

News source and photos (as noted) courtesy Toyota Motor Corporation

Story © 2016