MissToyota is now the world's largest car maker, and a top-seller in the U.S. but it's first foray into the American market fell very flat. After 20 years of success in Japan, in 1957 Toyota brought its first model to the U.S., the Crown, nicknamed the "Toyopet." The diminutive car was selling well in Japan, so executives figured it would cross over to American audiences.
"We took our chances and began exporting to the U.S. in order to stake our claim," said former Toyota Chairman Eiji Toyoda. "But the reception was horrible. To begin with, the car didn't have enough power to travel on high-speed roads." A mere 50 years later, Toyota recently surpassed Ford as the numbr two U.S. automaker.