Toyota USA Museum: Past, Present & Future of Cars
During my trip to TWIN Camp, one of the trip highlights was a visit to the Toyota USA Automobile Museum in Torrance, California. Driving through a business district in Torrance, it would be easy to miss the museum if you weren't specifically looking for it. It's a fairly nondescript-looking gray building that appears more like a dealership than a museum on the outside. On the inside, it's jam-packed with hundreds of representative models of Toyota's unique and distinctive contributions to automotive history, or at least as it has evolved in the United States. It's like Alice slipped down the rabbit hole and right into Cars Land.
Inside, we learned about the history of Toyota in America. Toyota Motor Sales, USA was founded in 1957 in Hollywood, California. The first Toyotas to hit American soil were called Toyopet and were sold in a handful of dealerships beginning in 1958, along with the Land Cruiser. The Toyopet, which I thought was completely adorable, was smaller and more expensive than most American-made cars and didn't really fit the US market. Toyota decided to pull the line in 1961 and focus instead on the sturdy, all-terrain Land Cruiser until 1965, when the Corona arrived. Toyota introduced the economical Corolla in 1967, which has become the world's best-selling passenger car of all time, with over 27 million sold in 140 countries around the globe. The rest, as they say, is history.
Inside the Toyota Museum, you can see examples of all of these models from the past, and some special, futuristic eco-friendly cars as well. One car was so small that it looked like my eleven year old son could drive it. In fact, I think I have purse larger than that.
The Lexus branded concept car from the movie "Minority Report" is on display, along with some memorabilia from the move. The car was all sexy rounded shapes and slick design, in a dark red tone that I'm sure I have a lipstick to match. I'm not a Tom Cruise fan, but regardless of who would be driving it, this is one hot-looking car.
Along with a hundred or more cars, there are displays on Toyota's advertising history, with some familiar slogans like "You asked for it, You Got It...Toyota!" and "Oh, What a Feeling" with the famous "Toyota jump" in the ads. Jenny from Mommin' it Up and Jill from Diaper Diaries showed us how the Toyota jump should be done. Later, everyone else got into the act and demonstrated the Toyota jump.
About large bookcases line one wall of the museum and display row after row of quality and service awards that Toyota has won over the years, including JD Power & Associates Quality Awards. It was an impressive sight to see so many trophies lined up in one place.
After viewing all of these fine vehicles, displays, and awards, I was sorry that my husband and son didn't have a chance to join me at the Toyota USA Museum. I think my son would have loved the race cars, and my husband would have enjoyed seeing a pristine version of his beloved and dearly departed 1981 Corolla on display. During our visit, quite a few Facebook and Twitter followers of the TWIN campers expressed extreme jealousy at our being so near to some really special cars.
Maybe on your next trip to Disneyland to see Cars Land, you can stop in at a real land of cars and enjoy the view.
Note: The Toyota USA Automobile Museum is open by appointment only. If you are planning to be in Torrance, California, it's worth planning a trip to view the cars. For an appointment to see the museum, call Susan Sanborn at (310) 468-4728 or email her at susan_sanborn [at] toyota.com.
Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Toyota.
Photo Credits: All photos are © Glennia Campbell 2012.