Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors sign a historic agreement on Nov. 19, 1993, that calls for Toyota, beginning in 1996, to sell GM’s Chevrolet Cavalier in Japan under the Toyota brand.
The Cavalier, built in Ohio and refitted with right-hand drive, was one of the first American cars to hit the Japanese market when it was introduced in October 1995.
The symbolic deal that created the Toyota Cavalier was designed to help open the largely closed Japanese market for American imports. Under the plan, Toyota would sell 20,000 Cavaliers at its Japanese dealerships every year. The arrangement was derided by some as a crass political ploy by Toyota to undercut America’s trade hawks at a time when sales of Japanese light-vehicle imports in the U.S. were soaring.
The Toyota Cavalier was not identical to its American cousin. Besides right-hand drive, the Japanese Cavalier had longer accelerator pedals for shorter drivers, different exterior lights that complied with Japanese regulations, a flat fuel door, folding side mirrors and flared front fenders that covered the tires. It did not have cruise control. But it did have the same engine as its Chevy counterpart -- a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder -- and the same American-built GM-Delco radio.
Chevy had engineered and built the Cavalier to compete with compact imports that had become popular in the U.S. during the 1970s oil crisis.
The Cavalier replaced the Monza, a sporty coupe with poor fuel economy. It went on sale in 1981 as a 1982 model.