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October 31, 1957 – Toyota establishes American headquarters

Toyota began its invasion of the American car market on this day in 1957 when the company established its US headquarters in an old Rambler dealership in Hollywood, California. Executives believed that the Toyota Toyopet, also known as the Toyota Crown, would be the first choice for a second car for American families. Sales began in 1958 and they quickly discovered their small, under-powered vehicle was not the home run they hoped for. After selling just 286 of the cars and one Land Cruiser that year, Toyota was forced to reevaluate its approach to selling stateside.

Above: 1957 Toyota Crowns imported to the US for demonstration and testing. Top: Toyota’s Hollywood headquarters. Images via Toyota.com

After a 1961 decision to discontinue the Toyopet, the Land Rover carried Toyota in the US until 1965. That year, Toyota introduced the Corona, which marked the Japanese automakers first American hit. By July of 1967, Toyota ranked as the third best selling import in America. In 1968, the company introduced the massively successful Corolla, still a staple of the Toyota lineup today. This car launched the company to the number one import spot by 1975, surpassing Volkswagen. The Corolla has since become the number one selling passenger sedan of all time with some 45 million built.

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