• There were the Big Three automakers, period. A tiny European company that made an oddlooking car called the Volkswagen was just starting to make inroads.
• Common-indeed, almost de rigueur-was the tail fin, a look started by Cadillac and soon adopted by other brands.
• 1958 saw the arrival of the first Japanese imports, as both Toyota and Datsun (now Nissan) brought their first cars to the U.S. Toyota's first entry, the Toyopet, was a small, rugged car, powered by a 55-horsepower engine that had difficulty reaching 55 mph.
• Cars were built on assembly lines using hand labor.
• Gasoline cost about 30 cents per gallon.
• Most cars of the day got about 13 miles per gallon.
• In-car entertainment was delivered by the ubiquitous AM radio through one loudspeaker mounted in the dashboard.
• Making a telephone call on the road meant stopping to find a pay phone booth.
• Need directions? You unfolded a map, or you stopped and asked someone.
• Cars on the road today incorporate enormous amounts of computer technology. For example, today's Toyotas include computer systems that supply exactly the correct air/fuel mixture to the engine; provide vehicle control; automatically tighten seat belts when an accident is anticipated; and even measure tire inflation.
• Cars are now built with human labor and dozens of computer-controlled robots.
• During 1958, Toyota's first sales year in America, it sold just 287 Toyopet Crown sedans and one Land Cruiser. Today, nearly 33 million cars and trucks later, Toyota makes the best-selling car in America, the Camry, and the top-selling auto luxury line, Lexus.
• Gasoline prices are now around $3 per gallon.
• Cars that deliver 13 mpg still exist, but they're increasingly rare. Cars that deliver average fuel economy of 20 to 30 miles per gallon are increasingly common.
• Americans now want to know how their vehicles affect the world's climate, and they look to carmakers for new technologies. Vehicles such as the high-mileage, ultra-low-emission Toyota Prius gas/electric hybrid are becoming more mainstream.
• The AM radio still exists, but has been supplanted by satellite radio and MP3 devices such as the iPod that connect to sophisticated, multispeaker, in-car sound systems.
• Kids today are entertained by rear-seat DVD entertainment systems that play movies on long trips.
• Stopping for directions is a thing of the past because many cars now have on-board global positioning satellite navigation systems and hands-free cell phone connections.
To explore traditions and stories from Toyota's first 50 years in America, visit http://www.toyota. com/50th/.