Toyota Corona ads like this helped establish the brand in the US

Toyota’s entry into the US market was famously disastrous. The Toyopet Crown was built for crowded Japanese alleys, not wide American highways, and its troubled launch almost sent Toyota back to Japan entirely. What redeemed the company was the introduction of the 1965 Corona, a car that went head-to-head against the Volkswagen Beetle.

For those who lived anywhere east of the California-Nevada border in the 1960s, the Corona might as well have been from Mars. Volkswagen Beetles were everywhere, but Toyota’s market was almost entirely west coast-based and sold quite well there.

In this very Cali-centric ad from 1967 it’s shown cruising the sunny suburbs of the Golden State, even pulling into a parking lot of the Los Angeles-based supermarket chain Vons. The Rod Serling-esque voiceover sounds straight out of Hollywood, too.

But it probably wasn’t a mistake that the Corona left a Beetle in its dust as they pulled away from a traffic signal. The Corona must have used all 90 of its horsepower to get from 0-60 in 16 seconds. But hey, at least it got 30 mpg, not that anyone cared in pre-oil crisis days.

What helped popularize the Corona was its list of standard features. As the commercial notes, a fully carpeted cabin and trunk, armrests, and locking glove box were all included in the base price. And you gotta love the early tagline, “Get your hands on a Toyota soon, and you’ll never let go!”

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3 Responses to Toyota Corona ads like this helped establish the brand in the US

  1. Rhoeby says:

    The “Get your hands on a Toyota and you’ll never let go” came from an owner testimonial that Toyota filmed. The man had three Toyotas and said, “It’s hard to describe how great it is to drive a Toyota… When you get your hands on one, you’ll never want to let go.” The copywriters at the Clinton E. Frank agency later edited down to the slogan that was present in Toyota’s marketing for six years.

  2. Mark F Newton-John says:

    I was really surprised when my dad came home with a 1970 RT40 Corona, as we had a Pontiac Bonneville Safari, and as a kid, didn’t even know of Toyota.
    Then we got my TE27 Corolla SR5, my sister a Celica, my brother a TE71 Corolla, even a Subaru and a Mazda GLC.

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