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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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February 2006 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
The Japanese Invasion
By Robert McLellan
 

In the early 1950s a small number of Americans began purchasing foreign manufactured imports after military servicemen brought home unique vehicles at the end of their tours in Germany, England, France and Italy. MGs, Volkswagens, Renaults and Mercedes-Benzs began to be imported by dealers in New York and California. Nash brought over the Metropolitan, GM the Vauxhall, Ford the English versions of Ford, Chrysler the Simca and Studebaker joined with Mercedes-Benz. To compete with these smaller products, Kaiser produced the Darrin and the Henry J, Nash (Rambler) the American, Chevrolet the Corvette and Ford the Thunderbird. Later the serious weapons against imports were the Corvair, Falcon and Valiant.

The Japanese, in need of cash to re-build their country after World War II, went from exporting cheap household products and novelty items to heavy machinery and automobiles, both much more profitable. Initially Americans, who had become used to the poor quality, but cheap, Japanese products, did not take Japanese cars seriously. But Toyota, Honda and other Japanese companies had done their homework. They had acquired the top selling models of Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and BMW and copied their advanced technology, engineering and design. Quality soon followed. Engines and suspensions of the more expensive European cars were created to out-perform American products and they cost less than the cars they copied. To a growing number of Americans these cars made a lot of sense. With the oil embargo of 1973, along with the strict pollution controls and safety regulations imposed by the U. S. Government, American manufacturers threw up their hands and began building poor quality, poorly engineered automobiles. The Japanese saw the opportunity to show their ability to succeed whereas American companies gave up. Today Toyota is the most successful automobile manufacturer in the world.

 
DATSUN
 
       
       
       


HONDA
 
     


SUBARU
 
     
     


TOYOTA
 
       
       
       
       
 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, February 2006
 
 
 
 
 
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