Can it be true?
Yes, it is! The Toyota Corolla has been with us for more than 50 years.
Australia was its first export market, with the initial boatload of cars landing in November 1966 at very attractive prices.
Potential buyers immediately saw the value proposition.
For here was a small car, exceptionally well built, with a 1.1-litre engine, reclining bucket seats, radio and heater and all at around the same price as everyone else’s bare bones offering.
But wait, there’s more.
You could have it with a snappy, all synchromesh four speed manual or an optional automatic transmission.
Remember, this was at a time when most local manufacturers made buyers pay extra if they wanted in all-syncro manual and an automatic was still a “luxury”.
The Corolla also carried Toyota’s new K series engine, which many engine tuners now consider to be the four cylinder equivalent of Chevrolet’s legendary small block V8.
Toyota’s timing was perfect for Australia.
The Corolla came just as the baby boomer generation were looking for their first new car and an increasing number of families could afford a second, new car.
Sales jumped right from the get-go and prompted Toyota Australia to manufacture it locally from 1968.
That the Corolla met with world-wide consumer success is no accident.
Its Chief Engineer, Tatsuo Hasegawa, sought to exceed consumer’s expectations of what a small car ought to be.
He believed smallness did not equate to being cheap and low quality.
He pushed his team to meet rigorous global quality standards. It paid off.
The Corolla is the world’s largest selling car name.
Toyota claims the Corolla name is a Latin derivation of the term “crown of flowers”.
The first generation Corolla is an ideal choice for those wanting their first classic car.
It’s simple to work on and parts are plentiful.
We saw a good one advertised recently for $9000.
David Burrell is the editor of retroautos.com