Section 3. Development and Sales of New Models-Promotion of Comprehensive Product Lineup
Item 3. The Sprinter, Mark II, and Others
As economy cars, including the Corolla, became widespread, many customers began asking for a sportier feel in this class of cars. In response, Toyota announced the Corolla Sprinter (KE15) in April 1968, adding a luxurious and sporty feel to the Corolla base.
For the new Sprinter, Toyota adopted a flowing body style with a height reduction that reduced air resistance to improve high-speed driving performance. Additionally, the cabin space was large enough to comfortably seat five occupants and the model had fully enhanced features. At the same time, the Sprinter ensured economy by using many conventional Corolla parts. With the addition of the Sprinter, the Corolla series became an extensive product line possessing a total of 30 variations for the Japanese market.
In May 1970, Toyota completely redesigned the Corolla and the Sprinter. With the new models (KE20 and KE25), Toyota enhanced comfort and safety, with the aim of creating "great compact cars that are easy to drive and liked by everyone". To respond to diversifying market demand, Toyota added a coupe to the Corolla series. Then in August 1971, in response to the increasing trend in the economy car market toward luxury and individualistic expression, Toyota added a 4-door sedan to the Sprinter and made it independent of the Corolla series.
In September 1968, Toyota announced the Corona Mark II (RT60 and RT70), a luxury model based on the best-selling Corona but one size larger and possessing features targeted at international markets. Anticipating expanded demand for the Mark II, Toyota offered 20 and 28 models for the Japanese and overseas markets, respectively, based on different combinations of body shape, engine, and transmission. This was the first time for Toyota to start up so many models at one time on a large-scale mass production basis.
In addition to using the 2R (1,500 cc) and 7R (1,600 cc) engines, which had been used in the Corona, the 8R (1,900 cc) engine was also used in the Mark II. For the body, the Corona's arrow-line styling was retained. Furthermore, because interest in safety was heightening globally during the development of the Mark II, Toyota incorporated many new safety features, such as an energy-absorbing steering column and a dual-system brake.
During this period, Toyota made several redesigns. First, in September 1967, Toyota redesigned the Crown. To improve the comfort level inside the new Crown models (MS50 and RS50 series), Toyota made the cabin roomier by adopting a perimeter frame chassis. The body style featured a flowing side view that was received well by a wide range of customers. Ahead of this redesign, Toyota had proceeded to offer a wide selection of models, by for example installing the 2.0-liter, six-cylinder M engine in the Deluxe and newly developed sports versions of the Crown, in addition to the existing 3R engine.
Then in November 1967, the Toyota Century was launched. The Crown Eight launched in 1963 was an extension of the Crown in terms of style and could not be considered a new large-sized car. Thus, Toyota developed the Century as a Japanese-made, highest-grade luxury passenger car that could rival luxury imports. Its engine was the newly developed 3V (2,980 cc, V8 aluminum block, and aluminum cylinder head). The body style was designed to present a sense of stateliness. A radiator grille that sported a gold-colored emblem designed based on the phoenixes adorning the roof of the Byodo-in Temple in Uji City, Kyoto was chosen, giving the Century functions and an appearance worthy of representing Japan.
Meanwhile, the Publica was redesigned in April 1966 and again in March 1969. With the new Publica models (KP30 and UP30), Toyota enhanced safety while maintaining affordability, and also improved high-speed driving performance by complementing the existing air-cooled 800-cc engine model with a new model fitted with the 2K water-cooled 1,000-cc engine.
In February 1970, Toyota completely redesigned the Corona. With the new Corona (RT80), Toyota achieved the safety and high-speed, long-distance drivability required of a family car for the new era while retaining the reliability and comfort of the RT40. In August of the same year, in response to a diversifying customer base, Toyota resurrected the hardtop, which had been discontinued in 1968, thus offering as wide a selection as with the Mark II.