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