Remembering Japanese cars from the past

Trivia: Why the Toyota Carina A60 failed in Europe

There are a lot of speculations why the third generation Carina (the Toyota Carina A60) failed to sell in large numbers in Europe. One of them is that Datsun (aka Nissan) launched their new Bluebird 910 around the same time and offered a better pricing. This is partly true and this posting is about the other part which can be captured in the scan below:
Toyota Carina TA60 vs Toyota Carina II AT150
I made this scan of a Dutch book about Honda and Toyota from the mid 80s. During this period the Carina II T150 was selling quite well while the Carina A60 already had been phased out.

The photos above are press photos distributed in the 80s by Toyota Netherlands (aka Louwman & Parqui) and you clearly see a difference in marketing: the old is marketed with a conservative mustached salesman-guy and the new with the streamlined (French) glider in the background. I don’t think the annotation of the photos need to be translated as they are similar. ;)
Notice the glider: I will come back to that later…

This is obviously not the only marketing they did, another example is this 1982 ad targeted at Ford Taunus drivers:
Toyota Carina TA60 vs Ford Taunus
Ford had just announced that they would stop building/selling the Ford Taunus: the most popular car for salesmen which happened to be a four door rear wheel drive car with 3 box styling. Guess what Toyota offered with the Carina A60?
What they did not expect was that the buyers of these cars are very conservative and even tough Toyota was already getting a good name for quality and reliability these buyers would still prefer a European car over an Asian car. Of course the Carina A60 could still have caught on if it weren’t for Toyota to stab it once more by releasing the new Toyota Carina II in Europe around mid 1983.

To get back to the glider:
German Toyota Soarer MZ11 and glider
It is striking that I found an almost similar photo between the 1983 Toyota Carina II and this 1982 Toyota Soarer MZ11 (taken from a brochure I found). At first I thought the gliders were the same, but the enlargement of the Soarer photo revealed that the glider in this photo is German and the two in the background of the Carina II are actually French.
In the near future I’ll get back to this specific Soarer brochure and its German background. ;)


  1. Alex

    Well, I don’t think that the lack of gliders in the ads is to blame for the lousy sales of the TA60 Carina. I could show you a Dutch brochure featuring airplanes and a futuristic building in front of an orange fainted sky. They did whatever they could to make it seem likely but maybe the basic problem was the car itself with its unfortunate combination of quirky modern design and the old-fashioned rear wheel drivetrain.

    Ford stopped the production of the Taunus because they noticed that the era of this kind of cars was about to end and Toyota just didn’t realize on time.
    The 3rd Generation Celica had the very same problem – the body, especially the coupe body, looked like a spaceship and was powered by an engine and drivetrain which were basically remains from the 1970 model year.

    Toyota had to learn that the 70’s were defenitely gone by 1982 and as a result of this learning process all engines ever offered in the TA/RA1X-2X-4X-6X Carinas and Celicas were dropped consequently and the drivetrains were completely redone for the next generation of these cars. And suddenly they sold very well – not because the marketing was better, they did well because Toyota recognized the signs of time and made them modern cars of the 1980’s instead of outdated leftovers from a decade ago.

    • banpei

      Thanks for the comment!
      I have the same brochure featuring the Louwman dome on the cover (you can also find it here: and it is one of the most beautiful Carina A60 brochures for sure, but in contrast their press photos are all as dull as the mustached man.

      I do agree partly with you on the old-fashioned RWD: the models that were imported to Europe were mostly featuring the old fashioned 2T-T50-live-axle formula, but at the same time the RA63 and AA63 Celicas did feature the new IRS (that also featured on similar models in the Carina lineup) that could also be found on the Celica-Supra and continued to live on in the Supra A70 series.
      Also the Taunus was discontinued in favor of the Sierra which was also RWD. The major difference between the Taunus and the Sierra was the spaceship styling combined with IRS and the Sierra survived till early 90s, so it was definitely not the old fashioned RWD that wasn’t wanted anymore.
      Of course this doesn’t mean Toyota should have soldiered on with modern engines and IRS as the FWD (and AWD) transition was getting inevitable by then, and this is the part that I do agree upon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑