Collection of photographs documenting an early U. S. Toyota dealer’s trip to Japan to be part of the celebration recognizing the five millionth car to roll off the company's assembly line. Said to have been from a. trip, Pennsylvania Byrl S. Kline an automobile dealer from Lebanon.
Collection of photographs documenting an early U. S. Toyota dealer’s trip to Japan to be part of the celebration recognizing the five millionth car to roll off the company's assembly line.
Collection of photographs documenting an early U. S. Toyota dealer’s trip to Japan to be part of the celebration recognizing the five millionth car to roll off the company's assembly line.
Collection of photographs documenting an early U. S. Toyota dealer’s trip to Japan to be part of the celebration recognizing the five millionth car to roll off the company's assembly line.
Collection of photographs documenting an early U. S. Toyota dealer’s trip to Japan to be part of the celebration recognizing the five millionth car to roll off the company's assembly line.
Collection of photographs documenting an early U. S. Toyota dealer’s trip to Japan to be part of the celebration recognizing the five millionth car to roll off the company's assembly line.

Collection of photographs documenting an early U. S. Toyota dealer’s trip to Japan to be part of the celebration recognizing the five millionth car to roll off the company's assembly line.

Pennsylvania, California and Japan: 1968. Unbound. This collection of 20 b/w and color photographs ranges in size from 4.25” x 3” to 9” x 7.5”.

11 snapshots picture the dealer and his wife interacting with their hosts in Japan.

One large b/w image shows all of the U.S. dealers who were attending the event posing before a Japanese Air Lines airplane at Los Angeles and holding a large sign that reads, “JAL Welcomes Toyota Jet Away to Japan Oct. 23, 1968”.

One mid-size b/w image shows all of the U.S. dealers posing in a reception room in Japan. It is captioned “Compliments of Japan Travel Bureau in Kyoto 1968”.

One large color image, dated “1968. 10. 29” shows the group posing in front of Toyota’s headquarters building.

Five of the large images show Toyota facilities in Japan (Four have separate caption slips; one caption slip is missing: “Cylinder blocks machining line in Kamigo Engine Plant,” “Assembly line of Corona Mark II at Motomachi Plant,” “High Speed Test Track on the outskirts of Mt. Fuji,” a lot of new Coronas waiting to be loaded onto a cargo ship, and “Shaking hands in front of the 5,000,000 car are Mr. Ishida, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Toyota Motor and Mr. Kamiya, President of Toyota Motor Sales.”

All are in nice shape. Very good. Item #009056

At the time, Toyota was a relatively small company, and although it first began selling automobiles, the Toyopet and Land Cruiser, in the U.S. in 1958, neither sold well. The first six-passenger “Americanized” Toyota, the Tiara (later renamed Corona) was introduced in 1964 and sold for under $2,000. Although reputed to be quite comfortable for a small car, able to reach 90 mph when going downhill, and offering optional automatic transmission and air conditioning, the Coronas’ paint jobs were thin, and the cars were notorious rust buckets. By 1968, when Toyota sold its five millionth car, only 71,000 of them had been sold in the United States.

These photographs are said to have been collected by Byrl S. Kline, a Lebanon, Pennsylvania automobile dealer, and his wife when they traveled with this group of U.S. Toyota dealers. A newspaper search shows that Kline was, indeed, a car dealer, but all of his advertising was for a Plymouth dealership in Lebanon and a foreign car dealership in West Lawn that sold Mercedes Benz and BMWs. At the same time, Lebanon newspaper advertisements and advertising ephemera show a repair shop, Lehman’s Garage, as the only place in the city selling Toyotas and that a company named Performance Motors was selling Toyotas in West Lawn by around 1970. Interestingly, Kline’s dealership advertisements stop in 1968 before the trip to Japan. Perhaps, Kline also owned or was associated with Lehman’s Garage and/or Performance Motors, and he sold his Plymouth, Mercedes, and BMW franchises before making the trip.

Regardless, this collection of photographs provides a fine visual record of the Toyota’s earliest efforts to enter the U.S. automobile market.

Price: $250.00