Published on August 5th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez1
Toyota in the UK for 50 years
In 1965 Toyota made a modest entry into the British car market, its arrival marked by a small four-car stand at that year’s motor show. Today, Toyota has not only sold almost three million vehicles in Britain, it builds Toyota cars in Britain also.
Pride and Clark was the original UK importer and distributor, a South London family firm that launched its enterprise after John Pride travelled to the Far East to see the developing Japanese car industry for himself. His faith in Toyota was shared by a handful of car retailers who set up the first Toyota showrooms, at first with just a single model line, the Corona to offer their customers.
Business prospered as the range of vehicles grew, not least with introduction of the first Corolla in 1966. The name Toyota (GB) Ltd was adopted in 1967 and by 1980 200,000 cars had been sold, securing its position as a leading player in Britain’s car market.
Nine years later Toyota announced the UK as the location for a European manufacturing centre. Toyota Manufacturing UK’s Burnaston car plant in Derbyshire and Deeside engine factory in North Wales came on stream in 1992 and have benefited from more than £2 billion investment in technology, skills and jobs. They continue to provide valuable opportunities for more than 200 supplier businesses.
While Toyota’s focus is on the future and the development of ever-better cars, it honours the achievements of some its influential models of the past in a heritage fleet, maintained by Toyota (GB). The classic line-up includes an original Corona saloon, the famous Corolla AE86 that helped inspire today’s GT86 coupe, a first-generation RAV4 and one of the earliest British-built models, a 1992-vintage Carina E.