Toyota began its crusade in the American car market on this day in 1957 when they established their American headquarters in an old Rambler dealership in Hollywood, California. Executives believed that their 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, which was a major hit. By July of 1967 Toyota was the third best selling import brand in America. In 1968 the company would introduce the massively successful Corolla, pushing 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 around 40 million sold since its introduction.
Cover: 1957 Toyota Crowns imported to the US for demonstration and testing. Images via Toyota.com