Toyota was the first Japanese car manufacturer to compete in motorsport, campaigning the grueling Round Australia Rally in 1957.

The car industry across the country was in its infancy. Vehicle export numbers could be measured in a few hundreds, while demand in the home market was for small, three-wheeled vehicles, trucks and buses. Tiny numbers of road cars were being made because few people could afford to buy them. Finally,  manufacturing quality was lagging behind that of imported cars. Because of these factors, interest in motorsport within Japan was limited to a privileged few.

Nevertheless, when the Japanese consulate in Australia made a request through the foreign ministry for Japanese auto manufacturers to compete in the country’s famous rally, Toyota responded. Shotaro Kamiya, president of the Toyota Motor Sales Company, encouraged the effort, observing “there will be no progress if you fear failure.”

Under the umbrella of Toyota Technocraft, the manufacturer’s recently established bodywork department, a new motorsport branch called Toyota Sports Corner (or Tosco) was established. Its first task was to prepare a production Toyopet Crown Deluxe model for the 19-day endurance contest in Australia.

Drivers Kunio Kaminomura and Koujiro Kondo crossed the finish line in 47th position (86 started and 34 failed to finish), securing third place among the foreign entries.

Buoyed by this success, Toyota entered another Toyopet Crown in the Yomiuri Round Japan Rally the following year (1958). Driven by Yukiyasu Togo and his wife Misako, the pair won the event outright.

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