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Early in the twentieth century, Sakichi Toyoda invented a series of industrial looms. In 1933, he used some of the earnings to establish an automotive division of his automatic-loom company, which produced its first car in 1935. In 1937, the renamed Toyota Motor Company became an independent operation. In the 1950s, Toyota entered other world markets. Toyota eventually grew to become the world’s second-largest car maker, with facilities in twenty-seven countries. To give a sense of its scale, Toyota has sold over 30 million compact Corollas worldwide since it was introduced in 1966. Between 1967 and 1970, Toyota produced about 350 copies of the sophisticated 2000GT sports car, a statement of the company’s intention to build cars to compete with the world’s best. In 1970, the Toyota Celica four-cylinder sports car appeared, and the six-cylinder Celica, later called the Supra, was introduced in 1978. The two cars became completely separate models in 1986, when the Celica switched to front-wheel drive. The Supra remained in production until 2002. From 1984 to 2005, Toyota produced a small mid-engine sports car, the MR2 (renamed MR-S in Japan in 1999), which offered an affordable taste of mid-engine performance. At the luxury end of Toyota’s sports-car spectrum is the Soarer, which was introduced in 1981. The current model is a V8-powered luxury roadster with a convertible hard top, sold in all markets as the Lexus SC 430.

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