The 1000 model, known in Japan as the Publica, was a smaller very conventionally engineered series of 1 litre 2 door saloons and 3 door estates that provided a entry level into the Toyota range. The first ones were released in Japan in 1961, but it wasn’t until 1975 did the 3rd incarnation, the KP30 did it arrive in the UK. These models were based on the the Corolla chassis, and became common first time cars for Japanese buyers mainly due to the typical Toyota study construction and the durability of the engineering. It was also a mechanically conventional car, which suffered from the ‘small car’ complex in Japan, by the perception that small basic cars lacked prestige. Several versions where produced, including an estate version and pick up versions. While the pick ups never made it to the UK, it was exported to several European countries to take advantage of the lower tax benefits for pick up trucks.
The first examples arrived comparatively late into Europe in 1974, some 5 years after the original launch. Toyota had presumably seen the sales success of the Datsun Cherry and Honda Civic, so the importers decided that the 1000 would be a worthy competitor as entry car into the range. The Corolla had served that purpose for a time, but by 1975 it had grown in size. In truth the Honda and Datsun were FWD and used a number of technical innovations not seen in the conservative 1000, which may have hindered sales somewhat. Toyotas less common dealer networks also meant that the car was a relatively rare sight in the UK, however, the range was popular enough to remain in the line up until 1978. The pick up version continued selling to European markets well into the next decade.
Its replacement, still wasn’t a FWD design, but at least offered a modern hatchback body. Sales of the new Starlet was a improvement over the 1000 and still maintained the tradition of expected build quality. A previous generation of Starlet, essentially the same car as the KP30, with a saloon body was not exported to the UK. Now offered as a 3 and 5 door hatchback, Starlet sales also helped Toyota’s presence on UK roads and many provided owners with reliable and painless driving experiences. The car received a minor facelift and several engine options were available. By the time the Starlet was discontinued in 1984, along with the long lived Vauxhall Chevette, it was the last of the superminis to retain its RWD status, a fact not lost on rallycross and other motorsport competitors.
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