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TOYOTA CONNECT


FROM “SLANT-NOSE” TO “KENTUCKY ROUNDER” – AND BEYOND I


t was October 1966. The mountain kingdom of Lesotho gained its independence from Britain, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) was


declared illegal in the American state of California, Aussie Jack Brabham won the 17th


Formula 1 World


Championship and the Rolling Stones recorded their first LP. On the other side of the globe, amid much less fanfare, the first- generation Corolla from virtually unknown Japanese carmaker Toyota was launched. Back then, who could have guessed that this small car – with unusual, new technologies – would revolutionise the motoring world? Initially, Toyota planned to build 30 000 Corollas a month, but it was


such a hit that global sales reached one million just four years after launch. Soon it became the top-selling nameplate in automobile history and now – 10 generations and half a century later – it’s reached cumulative worldwide sales of close to 50 million. It’s also become a South African


motoring icon since its local introduction more than 40 years ago. Over 1,5 million of the ever-evolving


Corolla models have already been sold here, while more than one million have rolled off the Prospecton assembly line in Durban. Local production started in


May 1975 – fittingly, the same month Junko Tabei from Japan became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest – making SA the third country after Japan and Thailand to build the Corolla range.


Generation four, known as the


“boxy” or “slant-nose” and the last rear- wheel drive Corolla, was introduced in March 1979 as South African golfing icon Sally Little won another LPGA tournament. The vehicle became the country’s best-seller in 1982. Interestingly, Akio Toyoda, current


President and CEO of the Toyota Motor Corporation, also cut his teeth in the car that helped transform Toyota, having owned a used “box shape”, four-door Corolla GT in the 1980s, when he was fresh out of college. The “wedge”, as generation five


is still affectionately known, arrived locally in 1984 and a pocket-rocket RSi version, powered by the revered 4A-GE “twin-cam” engine, soon established the Corolla’s performance credentials here – in much the same way its AE86 (yes, the iconic


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