Toyota began invaded the American car market on this day in 1957 when the company established its American headquarters. They set up shop in an old Rambler dealership in Hollywood, California. Executives believed that the 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, underpowered vehicle was not a hit. After selling just 286 of the cars and one Land Cruiser that year, Toyota was quick to reevaluate its approach to the American car market.
When the Toyopet was discontinued in the US in 1961, the Land Rover carried Toyota until 1965 when it introduced the Corona. The Corona soon went viral with buyers. By July of 1967 Toyota was the third best selling import brand in America. In 1968 the company introduced the massively successful Corolla. 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. Some 45 million have left the assembly line since its original introduction.
Cover: 1957 Toyota Crowns imported to the US for demonstration and testing. Images via Toyota.com