Half a century for

Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla
Toyota Corolla GT, Brtish Touring Car Championship 1986

IT'S happy 50th birthday to that Japanese automotive milestone the Toyota Corolla.

This originally humble car became a world favourite and since the original model was introduced in Japan in 1966 more than 44 million have been sold worldwide.

Although the Corolla has not been part of the UK model range since 2008, it remains an important part of Toyota's global line-up, manufactured in 16 plants worldwide.

Its lasting popularity is reflected in the fact that one in every five new vehicles sold in Toyota's 79-year history has been a Corolla.

The Corolla was designed to be a "people's car," introduced in saloon and estate body styles and displaying higher build quality and - for its time - lavish equipment features.

The specification included a floor-mounted gear lever, individual front bucket seats with generous padding and a spacious rear bench that was likened to a family sofa. Although classed as a compact car, its high roof height made the interior feel exceptionally roomy.

Toyota's hopes for Corolla (a name drawing on the Latin term for a ‘crown of flowers') were soon realised with the first generation model becoming Japan's top-selling vehicle within three years. The success quickly spread to other countries around the world.

In developing each of Corolla's 11 generations, Toyota has remained true to its original principles of building a car with superior quality, reliability and durability. And with each new model, it has analysed customer feedback to ensure Corolla continues to deliver what its customers want.

The Corolla was Toyota's second model to be imported into the UK, following the Corona into showrooms within its launch year, 1966.

Through successive generations and a wide range of body styles, it continued to be available up to 2008 when the Corolla name was dropped from the original Verso compact MPV.

Within that timespan it achieved more than 560,000 sales.

Its popularity here and in Europe prompted Toyota to build five-door hatchback models at its Burnaston factory in Derbyshire between 1988 and 2006.

Production ended to make way for Auris, Toyota's new (and current) compact hatchback for the European market.

Although renowned as an appealing family car for everyday driving, the Corolla demonstrated its genuine performance edge in UK motorsports.

The famous Corolla GT rear-wheel drive coupe was driven by Chris Hodgetts to victory in the 1986 British Touring Car Championship - a feat he repeated the following year.

Corolla exports to the USA began in 1968 and worldwide it developed through various generations to become the world's best-selling model by 1997.

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