What are the secrets / unknown facts of the Corolla?

Let's carefully unravel the untold story beginning before the Corolla's birth and traveling through its becoming a vehicle cherished throughout the world.

Era of the Corolla's Birth

The development of Japan's infrastructure for vehicles really began to move forward beginning with the 1964 Olympics held in Tokyo as highways were expanded and paved roads were increased. As a result, the curtain was raised for motorization in Japan. That year marked the beginning of change as vehicles became more accessible to many people throughout the country. To support the trends of that era, Toyota moved forward in early stage developments of a family car that was slightly larger than the Publica, and the resulting vehicle made a spectacular debut in 1966. That vehicle was the Corolla.

Origin of the Corolla Name

Repeated debate was held within Toyota's Product Planning Division as the team strove to come up with a name that would be suited for a model heading out to the world. Devoted to the search for a name, the team looked through English, Italian and French dictionaries and even through Japan's Anthology of 10,000 Leaves*. In the end, the name Corolla, originating from a Latin term for "crown of flowers," was chosen with hopes that this vehicle would bloom the automotive market.

Some say the name Corolla was chosen because "Toyota likes the letter C." Consider Toyota's lineup of vehicles; there are numerous passenger cars that have names that begin with the letter C. Before the birth of the Corolla, there was the Crown luxury vehicle and the mid-sized Corona. Since the birth of the Corolla, vehicles have included the Celica (1970), the Carina (1970), the Corsa (1978) and the Camry (1980) — all of which begin with the letter C. Incidentally, the CORONA Mark II, which was created as an upper middle class CORONA, was named the CRESSIDA in overseas markets, which once again began with the letter C.

  • *: Japan's oldest book of poetry compiled from the latter half of the 7th century through the latter half of the 8th century.

Failure Not Tolerated

"Once a new plant is launched, failure cannot be tolerated." Toyota's Takaoka Plant (Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture) was designed in 1966 as a plant exclusively for the first generation Corolla and has operated since then as the main Corolla production plant. Currently, the Takaoka Plant boasts a site that is 1,100,000m² and outputs 601,000 units per year. However, during initial construction, a decision was made to deliver the first production vehicle off the line a mere 8 months after construction was started. This forced the work to become a rush construction job under major pressure because construction schedule delays could not be tolerated. Nonetheless, construction was completed, and the first production vehicle was successfully brought off the line.

Differentiation from Other Vehicles

The first generation Corolla was introduced in October 1966, six months after the release of Nissan's Sunny (now called the Sentra in overseas markets). Nissan was Toyota's largest rival in Japan at that time, but the Corolla was equipped with a 1,077cc displacement engine, about 0.1-liter larger than that of the rival, and thus offered the appeal of an "extra 0.1-liter advantage". As a result, just one month after the Corolla's release, it achieved a sales volume that exceeded that of its rival.

No. 1 in the Compact Class Worldwide

Since the release of the first generation model, the Corolla has gained a favorable reputation. In November 1966, shortly after sales began in Japan, 15 Corollas were exported to Australia, marking the start of full-scale exports. The next fiscal year, the number of Corollas exported was expanded phenomenally to 15,425, and in 1968 the exports into the US began. In 1969, just three years after the first Corolla came off the production line, the total number of Corollas exported exceeded 100,000. In 1970 the Corolla became Toyota's most exported model. Today, the total number of Corollas produced has exceeded 30 million, and the Corolla has gained the No. 1 position in the compact class worldwide, thus living up to its name.

  • Published Figures: From Toyota Motor Corporation documents

Corolla Crowned with Laurels

The much-awaited appearance of the Corolla in the WRC (World Rally Championship) occurred in 1997. Until then, Toyota had participated with works machines based on the Toyota Celica. The most outstanding features of the Corolla WRC were its excellent handling and the ease with which machine settings could be made. While conceding slightly in the area of absolute speed to the Subaru Impreza WRC and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, which had participated in racing from an earlier stage, the Corolla exhibited stable speed on a variety of road surfaces, including tarmac, gravel, snow and ice. In 1999, the Corolla won the Manufacturer's title for Toyota, and Toyota withdrew from the WRC and began its challenge in Formula 1.

Secret of Corolla