Just 12 years after the end of World War II, Japan was in the middle of remarkable economic growth. Its automobile industry was in its infancy with imported cars far out-numbering home produced, and manufacturing quality was still not at the same level. As a result, only a small minority in Japan had an interest in motorsport.
Even so, a request came from the Japanese Consulate in Australia, through the Foreign Ministry, for a Japanese auto manufacturer to enter that year’s Round Australia Rally. Toyota responded, and Kunio Kaminomura, with Koujiro Kondo alongside him, took the wheel of our unproven 1.5-litre Crown saloon for 19 punishing days.
Remarkably, a car heavily weighed down with extra fuel and spare parts, and with only 48 horsepower under the bonnet, completed the entire course without any major problems. Finishing a respectable 47th position overall, the Crown made it to the end, unlike 34 other cars from the 86 strong field, and we became the first Japanese car manufacturer to enter world motorsport.