Predicting the Motorization Boom
The first-generation 1100cc Corolla went on sale in November of 1966.
The total population had passed the 100 million mark, spending for television advertisements was overtaking spending for newspaper advertisements, the economy was picking up steam, and the term "3 C's" (air-Conditioners, Color televisions and Cars) was on everybody's lips.
"People are living in nuclear families out in the suburbs, which means they'll need family cars to get around. A motorization boom is coming to Japan."
This was the future that Toyota foresaw coming in just a few years; and this was what prompted the building of a sprawling, 1 square kilometer plant in Takaoka (Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture) devoted exclusively to manufacturing the Corolla. When Toyota announced they planned on manufacturing 30,000 Corollas a month, the media at the time were utterly beside themselves with shock. (At the time, Toyota's monthly production was approximately 50,000 vehicles.)
Achieving Superiority through the Adoption of New Technologies
The first-generation Corolla had a number of technologies, specifications, systems, etc. that were the first of their kind in Japan and for Toyota.
At the time, column shift transmissions were standard; however, Toyota recognized that floor-shift transmission was already common in Europe and would be required in the coming highway age. Thus the Corolla was equipped with a four-speed floor-shift transmission before other vehicles were. Also, after much research and testing, MacPherson strut suspension — which allows for a larger engine compartment and makes it possible to lighten the vehicle and reduce manufacturing costs — was adopted for the first time in domestic mass production.
A number of other innovative technologies, such as for improving the comfort of seats, increasing rear seat space, raising the height of the roof and adopting the long floor shift lever, gave the Corolla a competitive edge.
Principle New Technologies and Specifications Adopted for the First-generation Corolla
- Compact engine with a five-bearing crankshaft
- Compact slant engine
- Automatic transmission, floor shift
- Vertical rear shock absorbers
- Four-speed floor-shift transmission
- MacPherson strut suspension
- Latticed front grill
- Removal of the bumper face
- Quarter windows without window frames
- Round meters
- Two-speed wipers (all vehicles)
- Back-up lights (all vehicles)
- Left door lock key (all vehicles)