1. About Us
  2. Toyota in Europe
  3. Our journey in Europe
  4. The 1970's

The 1970s

Motorsports and the birth of European manufacturing 
Although by the 1970s we were just a few years into our European expansion, the momentum was building. More and more people were aware of the Toyota name and responding to the alternative we offered to products and brands they had been familiar with for generations.  

Entry into rallying

Our visibility and appeal were soon to be given an exciting new dimension with our entry into international rallying with a Europe-based team. Swedish driver Ove Andersson set the plan in motion. At a meeting in London he convinced a team of our executives to let him compete in a Toyota Celica in the 1972 RAC Rally in Great Britain. His success with a top-10 finish ahead of some notable rivals ensured the programme would continue. Andersson Motorsport was duly established in Sweden in 1973. 

First win on the rally circuit

The team prepared Corolla and Celica models for competition, with extra support from Japan for major events. Soon afterwards, operations moved to Brussels. The 1974 oil crisis threatened to bring the motorsport programme to an early halt. However, our sales operations worked with their partners across Europe to keep the team supplied with the parts and equipment it needed. Their faith in the project soon brought rewards. Finnish driver Hannu Mikkola drove a Corolla 1600 to the team’s first win on the 1,000 Lakes Rally in Finland in 1975. The same year the Toyota Team Europe name was adopted. 

At the top of world rallying

Throughout the years, multiple driver and manufacturer championship titles were achieved with legendary cars like the Celica TA63 Twincam Turbo, nicknamed the “King of Africa” for dominating the Safari and Ivory Coast rallies. Toyota Team Europe relocated to Cologne in 1979, and created its own street, Toyota Allée. It remains the home of TMG (now TOYOTA GAZOO Racing) and the base for our successful World Endurance Championship team. Our motorsports teams' dedication resulted in a dream come true: earning the 'triple crown.' After winning the 2022 Dakar Rally, we also held WRC and WEC championships titles at the same time.

Production starts in Europe

A 1968 agreement with Salvador Caetano led to the first European-built Toyotas coming off the line in 1971. By building vehicles locally, we could improve our customer service, reduce delivery times, keep costs down, and respond better to the tastes and preferences of European customers. The Toyota Caetano Portugal (TCAP) factory in Ovar started by building Corollas supplied from Japan in kit form. Since then it has gone on to build a variety of cars, SUVs, vans and light trucks. Corona, Starlet, Land Cruiser and Hilux models as well as Optima and Coaster buses have all been manufactured by TCAP.   

The 70s in Europe