The Toyota Corolla Phenomenon
With twelve generations under its belt, there is no denying the impact that the Toyota Corolla has had on the motoring world. As the biggest-selling and most popular car of all time, and has consistently proven to be one of the most reliable and efficient vehicles, making it a favorite among drivers worldwide. In fact, it exceeded sales of 50 million cars in August 2021. Follow me as I will explore the history of this motoring classic, its design evolution, its impact on popular culture, key milestones and generations, special editions, and the future of the Corolla.
The Birth of a Motoring Classic: Toyota Corolla History
The Toyota Corolla first made its debut in 1966, and it was clear from the start that it was going to be a game-changer in the automotive industry. The brainchild of Toyota’s chief engineer, Tatsuo Hasegawa, the Corolla was designed to be a compact, fuel-efficient, and affordable car that would appeal to the mass market. It was a risky move for Toyota, as the company was known for producing larger, more luxurious vehicles at the time. However, the gamble paid off, and the Corolla quickly became a best-seller in Japan, and soon after, around the world.
The Evolution of the Classic Toyota Corolla Design
The Toyota Corolla has undergone numerous design changes since its inception, with each generation bringing its own unique features and improvements. The first generation, launched in 1966, featured a simple and functional design, with a 1.1-liter engine and a four-speed manual transmission. It was the perfect car for the era, offering a practical and economical solution for the growing number of Japanese drivers.
As the Corolla continued to evolve, it became increasingly refined and sophisticated. The second generation, launched in 1970, introduced a more powerful 1.2-liter engine and a sleeker, more aerodynamic body. The third generation, which debuted in 1974, saw the introduction of a hatchback body style, as well as the addition of several new safety features.
Over the years, the Corolla has continued to evolve, with each new generation offering fresh innovations and design improvements. Today, the Corolla stands as a testament to Toyota’s commitment to quality, innovation, and customer satisfaction.
Toyota Corolla’s Impact on Popular Culture
The Corolla AE86 has been a popular fixture in the gaming world having been featured in the Gran Turismo series, Need for Speed: The Run, Initial D, and NFS games such as Underground, Nitro and Shift. The Toyota Corolla has not gone unnoticed by celebrities either, who prefer their daily drive to be an efficient runaround such as Sarah Hyland from ‘Modern Family’.
The Corolla’s influence can also be seen in the world of motorsports, where it has enjoyed considerable success. The car has competed in various racing events, including the World Rally Championship, the British Touring Car Championship, and the Australian Touring Car Championship. Australia was the place to be for Corolla’s first win in international motorsport with a class victory in the 1968 Hardi-Ferodo 500 at Bathurst. Its success in these events has demonstrated the Corolla’s performance capabilities and further cemented its status as a motoring icon.
Key Milestones and Generations
Throughout its history, the Toyota Corolla has reached numerous milestones and has undergone significant changes with each new generation. Some of the key milestones and generations are as follows:
- 1966: The first-generation Corolla (E10) is launched, featuring a 1.1-liter engine and four-speed manual transmission.
- 1970: The second-generation Corolla (E20) debuts, introducing a more powerful 1.2-liter engine and a sleeker, more aerodynamic body.
- 1974: The third-generation Corolla (E30) is introduced, featuring a hatchback body style and new safety features.
- 1979: The fourth-generation Corolla (E70) is launched, offering a more refined and comfortable driving experience.
- 1983: The fifth-generation Corolla (E80) debuts, featuring front-wheel drive for the first time.
- 1987: The sixth-generation Corolla (E90) is introduced, offering a more modern and sophisticated design.
- 1991: The seventh-generation Corolla (E100) is launched, featuring a more powerful engine and improved safety features.
- 1995: The eighth-generation Corolla (E110) debuts, offering a more spacious interior and improved handling.
- 2000: The ninth-generation Corolla (E120) is introduced, featuring a more distinctive design and advanced technology features.
- 2006: The tenth-generation Corolla (E140) is launched, offering improved performance and fuel efficiency.
- 2012: The eleventh-generation Corolla (E160) debuts, featuring a more aggressive design and improved safety features.
- 2018: The twelfth-generation Corolla (E210) is introduced, offering a more dynamic driving experience and advanced technology features.
Special Editions and Collaborations
Throughout its history, the Toyota Corolla has been the subject of numerous special editions and collaborations. These limited-edition models often feature unique design elements, performance enhancements, and other upgrades that set them apart from the standard Corolla models. Some notable examples include the Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno, two sporty coupe models that were popular in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as the Corolla AE86, which gained fame for its role in the popular Japanese manga and anime series “Initial D.”
More recently, Toyota has collaborated with other automakers and designers to create unique Corolla models, such as the GR Corolla, a high-performance version developed in partnership with Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s motorsports division. These special editions and collaborations serve to further enhance the Corolla’s appeal and showcase the versatility of this motoring classic.
The Future of Toyota Corolla: Electric and Sustainable Motoring
As the automotive industry moves towards electric and sustainable motoring, the Toyota Corolla is poised to continue evolving to meet these new challenges. Toyota has already introduced hybrid versions of the Corolla, which combine a gasoline engine with an electric motor to provide improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions. In addition, the company has introduced a new ‘Corolla Crossover’ to North America in 2022 and is actively exploring the development of fully electric Corolla models, which will further reduce the car’s environmental impact.
Toyota Corolla’s Legacy and Influence on the Automotive Industry
The Toyota Corolla’s legacy and influence on the automotive industry cannot be overstated. It has set the standard for compact cars, offering a winning combination of affordability, reliability, and efficiency. Corolla’s success also inspired other automakers such as Mazda and Honda to develop their own compact cars, leading to increased competition and innovation in the industry.
Maintaining the Classic Toyota Corolla: Tips for Owners and Collectors
For owners and collectors of classic Toyota Corollas, maintaining these vehicles is essential to preserving their value and ensuring their longevity. Regular maintenance, such as oil changes, tire rotations, and brake inspections, is crucial to keeping the Corolla running smoothly and preventing costly repairs down the road.
However, in addition to regular maintenance, owners and collectors should also be mindful of the unique needs of classic cars. For example, older Corollas are known to rust, so take special care when it comes to rust prevention, and make sure if you are in the market to buy one that you thoroughly check under the car, around the door and window seals and frames, the bonnet and the trunk.
Finally, owners and collectors should be prepared to invest in quality parts and repairs where necessary. While it may be tempting to cut corners on repairs, using cheap or inferior parts can end up costing more in the long run, as they may not last as long or perform as well as higher-quality parts. One of the advantages of buying a Corolla is the fact there are more used parts available than those of a rarer car like a Subaru SVX or DeLorean for example.
Conclusion: The Continued Success of the Toyota Corolla
As we have seen, the Toyota Corolla is more than just a car – it is a motoring classic that has left an indelible mark on the automotive industry and popular culture. From its humble beginnings in 1966 to its current status as one of the most popular cars in the world, the Corolla has proven to be a reliable, efficient, and versatile vehicle that appeals to a wide range of drivers.
Looking to the future, we can expect the Corolla to continue evolving to meet the demands of a changing world.
For owners and collectors, the Corolla represents a piece of automotive history that is worth preserving and cherishing. By following proper maintenance procedures and investing in quality parts and repairs, owners can ensure that their Corollas remain in top condition for years to come and continue to be a part of the Toyota legacy.