It's half a century since Toyota officially entered the UK. The world has changed a lot since then, but our passion for innovation has never faded. Here are some of our concept car highlights from our first 50 years.
Toyota’s EX Dream Car still looks futuristic today, so it’s astonishing to think that it’s actually half a century old. It was first shown at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1965. Back then, the jet age and the space race were at their most intense and exciting, so it’s no surprise that this concept car looks better suited to the air than the road. The nose is as sharp and aerodynamic as a jet fighter’s, the wheels are ‘faired-in’ to give a smooth profile like an aircraft’s fuselage, and the Japan Airlines logo wouldn’t look out of place on that tall central tail-fin. Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds TV series made its debut in the same year: the EX Dream Car would have made the perfect transport for one of the Tracy family as they set out to save the world.
Tomorrow’s World was first broadcast on TV. It went on to introduce us to technologies such as the pocket calculator, the breathalyser, the ATM, the barcode, the CD and the camcorder.
On March 18, Alexey Leonov made history when he left the Voskhod-3KD No.4 spacecraft to conduct the world’s first ‘space walk’. Leonov was outside for 12 minutes and 9 seconds.
Tokyo becomes the first city in the world to have a population of more than 20 million inhabitants. In the process it overtakes New York as the most populous city in the world.
The best concept cars reflect the spirit of their time. Toyota’s Dream Car typifies the optimism of the 1960s, but the CX80 concept was launched in the midst of the oil crisis of 1979 and is therefore a much more grounded, realistic proposition. Toyota’s designers responded to rising fuel costs with this clever, lightweight design. Its compact dimensions also made it the perfect city car, ideally suited to an era of increasing urbanisation. With its flat floor, airy cabin, and good visibility through its second, lower row of side windows, it showed that small cars could be spacious too; something that Toyota would prove again with the production hatchbacks the CX80 inspired in the 1980s.
The US Voyager 1 space probe took photographs of Jupiter, revealing active volcanoes on the planet’s surface, and its famous rings, for the first time.
The London Underground’s Jubilee Line was inaugurated on 1 May. Its name honours the Queen’s silver jubilee of 1977. That’s why it’s a silvery grey on the Tube map.
The Toyota C-HR concept car, first revealed at the Paris motor show last year, is another design that reflects its times and anticipates the production models of the future. It’s a crossover – usually defined as a high-riding car with some rough-road capability, but more importantly good visibility, a practical cabin and low running costs. Toyota’s RAV4 small SUV has all these qualities and helped create the current crossover boom. The C-HR’s not produced yet, but the striking styling of its sporty two-door layout and 2+2 cabin gives a strong hint at how a future Toyota crossover might look, and proves that you don’t need to sacrifice beautiful, sculpted design for practicality and all-road ability.
A traditional roast is voted the UK’s favourite dish. Steak and chips was second, followed in third by scones with jam and clotted cream, and apple crumble came in fourth place.
Toyota hybrid sales reach seven million for the first time. The hybrid range is still growing with 28 different passenger car models now sold in more than 90 countries and regions.
‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams is by far the biggest-selling single of the year (with global sales of 13.9 million), and also becomes the most downloaded song of all time.