History of Cars: The First Generation Toyota Corolla
Toyota Corolla, The World’s Best Selling Car
The name Tatsuo Hasegawa may not ring a bell unless you are an avid follower of classic cars stories but you certainly know, or have even owned and driven the famous Toyota Corolla. What the VW Beetle is to Volkswagen is what the Corolla is to Toyota. The first generation was launched in 1966 and over 45 Million units have been sold since. It is the world’s best selling car.
Tatsuo Hasegawa was an automotive engineer, development chief of the first generation Toyota Publica and the Toyota Corolla. In around 1962 Japan had entered an era of steady economic growth following the Toyota Publica’s launch in 1961. The then Japanese cabinet had come up with an “Income Doubling Plan” which significantly enhanced consumer economy and Tokyo had been selected to host the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games. Owing to these factors, there was active infrastructure development. This is the time Toyota started working on a car that took into consideration all aspects of society at that time.
Toyota Corolla’s predecessor, the Publica, was a basic car with minimal luxuries and so the Corolla had to be a car customers would be proud to own. Safety, driving performance and low cost of production without compromising on quality were some of the important factors in the development of the Corolla.
The car was designed with a sporty exterior and a curved windscreen. To ensure comfort, firmly padded separate bucket seats were used.
At the time, all European cars had three bearing engines but Toyota wanted high-speed performance car and so Tatsuo Hasegawa used a five-bearing engine to achieve these. This coupled with a four-speed fully-synchronized floor-shift transmission gave the Corolla a uniquely quiet ride with an acceleration up to 110km/hr in three gears.
Many car features at the time were optional but with the Corolla, most of the features were made standard for customer convenience. Instead of selling the rear lamps as separate parts, they were attached to the bumper as standard fittings. The two-speed wipers and the co-driver key entry were some of the features added to the Corolla as standard features.
No doubt the Toyota corolla has remained popular over the years because of Toyota’s very simple philosophy. It is always built with the customer’s needs in mind. Tatsuo Hasegawa and his team were not out to make a grand debut of an invention but to make a car that filled the needs of its waiting owners.
Images courtesy of toyota.co.uk
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