The Toyota Corolla has been making headlines recently for its 50th birthday. While the Corolla didn’t arrive in the United States until 1968, it was introduced to Japanese drivers in 1966, meaning that it has now been around for a full five decades. During this time, the Corolla has evolved from the smallest vehicle ever to grace the American Toyota lineup to a much more spacious but still small sedan that is perfect for those who love efficiency and affordable pricing.
Original Toyota Corolla
The very first Corolla was built with a unibody structure, rear leaf springs, and strut front suspension. It had a 60-horsepower 1.1-liter 4-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive, and 4-speed manual transmission. By the time the second-generation Corolla arrived for the 1970 model year, Toyota had already adjusted it to fit American demands, including increasing the wheelbase and power output. The engine grew again for the 1971 model year, generating 102 horsepower.
Growing and Adding Features
The Corolla’s third generation began in 1975. It was available in one of five models, including two- and four-door sedans, a two-door hard top, a five-door station wagon, and a sport-oriented hardtop. The following year, Toyota added a three-door hatchback to the lineup in hopes that American drivers would love it; instead, the Corolla Sport Coupe with its sporty styling was incredibly popular. The fourth-generation Corolla started in 1979 with a new 75-horsepower 1.8-liter engine, a 94.5-inch wheelbase, and the choice of a 4- or 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic. Just a few years later, the Corolla was one of the few models in its class to offer a 4-speed automatic.
Creating the Familiar Corolla
By the fifth generation, the 1984 Corolla started to more closely resemble the model we are familiar with thanks to the switch to front-wheel drive. The 1984 Corolla GT-S is considered a classic with its cam 1.6-liter 16-valve engine producing 124 horsepower. The Corolla kept growing for the sixth, seventh, and eighth generations, although the last of these also had a drop in weight and boost to efficiency from a new engine. By this generation, only the Corolla sedan was available. The modern Corolla you will find new is part of the 10th generation, which started with the 2009 model.