The Toyota Publica is a small car manufactured by the Japanese automaker Toyota from 1961 to 1978. Conceived as a family car to fulfil the requirements of the "national car concept", it was the smallest Toyota car during that period and was superseded in that role by the Toyota Starlet, which itself started out as a version of the Publica. It was available as a 2-door vehicle only, but in a selection of body styles, ranging from the base sedan through a station wagon, convertible, coupé and even a pickup, which outlived the other models by a decade, and spawned other models, such as the Toyota Sports 800 or Toyota MiniAce.
The origins of the Publica can be traced to the "national car" concept of the powerful Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), which was announced in 1955. The concept stipulated for a vehicle fulfilling several requirements, like maximum speed over 100 km/h (62 mph), weight below 400 kg (882 lb), fuel consumption not exceeding 30 km/L (85 mpg‑imp; 71 mpg‑US) at the average speed of 60 km/h (37 mph) on a level road, but also notably the requirement that the car would not break down or require significant repairs for at least 100,000 kilometres (62,000 mi).
Although Eiji Toyoda was initially keen to take advantage of the, at that time innovative, FF concept (front-mounted engine with front-wheel drive), it proved technically too complicated for Toyota engineers to be able to complete within the allotted time, so the decision was made to switch to more conventional FR layout. The Publica was inspired by the successful Citroën 2CV which also used a 2-cylinder, air-cooled, horizontally opposed engine, with front-wheel drive. In spite of the fact that the government sources announced that significant tax breaks would be made for cars with engine displacements of less than 500 cc, Toyota decided that such a small engine would provide insufficient power on the highways, and increased the planned displacement to 700 cc. The resulting engine was an air-cooled 697 cc ohv 2-cylinder boxer which produced 28 hp (21 kW), and was known internally as the Toyota U engine. Fortunately for Toyota, the tax incentive announcements did actually not materialize; the displacement did classify in the lowest annual road tax bracket, which helped sales.
The new car was given a two-door sedan body, which was intended to accommodate four people and a significant amount of luggage in the trunk, thus fulfilling the projected expectations of the customers. The car had a double wishbone suspension in the front and semi-elliptical leaf springs in the rear.
While the name "Publica" was chosen with reference to the English phrase "public car", referring to the cars intended attainability and popularity, due to the lack of exact distinction between the "l" and "r" consonants in Japanese the name can be sometimes misinterpreted as something closer to paprika. The name is transliterated as "パブリカ" in Katakana, literally paburika.
The new car was given the internal designation of "UP10" and the market name of "Publica" and was sold through a new dealer network, separate from the previous "Toyota" and "Toyopet" dealerships, called Toyota Publica Store (later renamed as Toyota Corolla Store). Sales began in June 1961, with the basic price of ¥389,000. Initially, the car was very basic, lacking even such basic options like a radio or even a heater. This limited its appeal to the consumers, which were perceiving the automobile as an aspirational good and expected it to exude a much more luxurious impression.
The former Central Motors produced the Publica convertible from October 1963.
In 1962, a 2-door station wagon version was added, and a derivative model, Toyota Sports 800 (marketed initially as "Publica Sport") debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show. In 1963 Toyota added a new Deluxe trim level, denoted internally as "type UP10D", which featured such "luxuries" as reclining seats, Combustion heater or radio, as well as some chrome decors (the previous base model was now called Standard). With the appearance of the Deluxe, demand finally picked up, and when the convertible model was added the same year, sales of the Publica finally reached the target level of 3000–4000 monthly. In February 1964, a pickup truck model joined the lineup, and in September the engine got a power boost to 32 hp (24 kW), while the Deluxe trim level was also made available for the wagon version.
In 1966, Toyota launched the revised Publica range, designated UP20. The engine displacement was increased from 697 cc to 790 cc, and claimed power output from 35 hp to 36 hp (the engine was now called 2U) while the convertible received the 45 hp (34 kW) twin carburetor engine from the Sports 800. Since October that year, the dealers were operating under the "Toyota Publica" (rather than just "Publica") brand, and the base price was reduced to ¥359,000 for 1967 - as the US dollar stood at about ¥360 at that time, Toyota marketed the Publica as the "1000 dollar car". The Publica dealerships were later renamed "Toyota Corolla Store" after the popularity of the Corolla won out over the Publica as an affordable, small car.
In 1966, Toyota also launched the Toyota MiniAce cab over van, based on the UB20 Publica, as well as moved the production of the wagon version to Hino Motors in 1968, after the company was taken over by Toyota. 1968 also saw the launch of Publica Super version, which came with the engine of the Sports 800. The P20 Publica was replaced by the all-new P30 series in April 1969.
The former Central Motors produced the Publica convertible until December 1968.
Sales of the P10 and P20 Publicas:
In April 1969, a whole new generation of the Publica was launched. The car was effectively now a scaled down version of the Corolla, sitting on a shortened Corolla wheel-base. While the air-cooled 790 cc 2U engine was retained in the cheapest domestic market versions, the cornerstone of the lineup was now the new K-series four-cylinder, water-cooled 993 cc engine (designated 2K) with 58 PS (43 kW), a lower-displacement version of the 1,077 cc engine used in the contemporary Toyota Corolla. The Publica 800 has 40 PS (29 kW) and a top speed of only 120 km/h (75 mph), while the 1100 SL could reach 155 km/h (96 mph). The 800 and 1000 were available with Standard or Deluxe equipment, both in Sedan and Van bodystyles. The Van was somewhat slower, with claimed top speeds of 115 and 135 km/h (71 and 84 mph) for the respective versions.
Originally a two-door sedan and a three-door wagon (called Van in Japan, as it was intended for commercial use) were available. The pickup version, added in October 1969, was now officially known as "pickup". The pickup was originally only available with the 1 liter engine, although the 1.2 was made available after the January 1972 facelift. The situation in the Japanese market changed, as demand developed rapidly, partially fuelled by the post-WWII baby boomers coming of age and gaining their driver's licenses. Having the Corolla firmly established as the family car offering, Toyota did not market the Publica as the "popular car" anymore, but rather as an entry-level vehicle for first-time young buyers.
Many of the commercial iterations of the Publica were built by Hino Motors at their Hamura plant, beginning in 1970. Daihatsu also built Publicas, starting in September 1969. In 1969, the Publica dealerships were renamed "Toyota Corolla" dealerships.
The most powerful version was the Publica SL, which featured the 73 PS (54 kW) 1.1 L K-B twin carburetor engine also offered in the Corolla SL. In September, after only half a year, this engine was replaced by the 1.2 L 3K-B unit in both the Corolla and Publica SL's. At the same time, the Toyoglide automatic transmission became available in 1 litre Publicas. As Toyota had just started its relationship with Daihatsu, in 1969 the latter launched the Daihatsu Consorte, which was essentially a mildly restyled P30 Publica. It was, however, powered initially by Daihatsu's own 1.0-litre "FE" engine, which had already seen service in the previous Daihatsu model, the Compagno.
1970 saw minor changes to the range, including a new instrument panel, and a new High Deluxe version featuring the single-carburetor version of the 1.2 L engine and front disc brakes. A more substantial facelift took place in January 1972, when the KP30 Publica was given new front and rear fascias and a new "semi-fastback" style. The U-engine model was dropped at this time, as the boxer unit could not clear emission standards anymore. 1973 saw the introduction of the Toyota Publica Starlet (designation KP40), a coupé version of the facelifted Publica. The last new version of the sedan was the KP50, a sedan version which featured the de-smogged 3K-U engine with 64 PS (47 kW). In June 1976 a five-speed transmission became available in the P50, the first Publica to be thus equipped. The facelifted sedan continued in production until January 1978, when it was replaced by the KP60, marketed as the Toyota Starlet. The Van was built until June 1979, while the Publica pickup was not withdrawn until August 1988. Later pickups were fitted with the desmogged 1,166 cc 3K-HJ (from November 1975) and then the 1,290 cc 4K-J engines (from June 1979), although export versions retained the 1-litre 2K engine. The pickup also received a five-speed gearbox from August 1985.
The P30 Publica with the 993 cc 2K engine was known as the Toyota 1000 in most markets outside Japan. With a DIN rating, the engine had 45 PS (33 kW) in export trim. The Toyota 1000 continued to be the only offering smaller than the Corolla in most export markets even after the Publica replacement (the P40 Toyota Starlet) was introduced for Japan in 1973. Branded as the Toyota 1000, the car was launched on the West German market, at the time Europe's largest national auto-market, in the fourth quarter of 1974. It had an unusually lavish list of included features that included radial tyres, front headrests, tinted windows, a heated rear window and even a radio. In some European markets such as Switzerland and the Netherlands, it was marketed with the additional name "Copain". In Belgium it was sold as the "Toyota Osaka" for a while.
The Toyota 1000 sedans and wagons were replaced by the P60 Starlet in 1978 but the Toyota 1000 pick-up continued to be sold next to the Starlet sedans and wagons. The Toyota 1000 range included a two-door sedan, a three-door wagon, and a two-door pick-up. In South Africa, the Toyota 1000 range also included a pick-up with the 1,166 cc 3K engine.
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