November 19: Toyota agrees to sell GM’s Cavalier in Japan on this date in 1993

November 19, 2013

By the early 1990s, the frictions between U.S. automaker and Japanese companies steadily winning over American buyers had reached crisis levels in Detroit — enough that many executives began leaning on Washington for tougher trade sanctions against Japan. In part to ease such pressures, Japanese companies signed a number of deals meant to help their American competitors. The oddest of all: Toyota's agreement with General Motors to sell a version of the Chevrolet Cavalier as a Toyota in Japan, made on this date in 1993. Never mind that the Cavalier hadn't been designed for left-hand drive, was far bigger, less efficient and more expensive than any competing model and was generally never engineered for Japanese customers. Toyota agreed to sell 20,000 a year, calling the deal "an innovative business challenge" — and never sold more than 12,000 Cavaliers a year, despite hefty price cuts. But it did create the weird wormhole of having a Toyota badge available from the GM parts catalog.

Photo: jmv via Flickr