Toyota motorsport is 49 and a half

Although there are beginning to be signs of celebration for Toyota's 50 years in motorsport, it should be remembered that the Japanese company still has another six months to go before the actual anniversary. It was in September 1957 that Toyota sent a single car, called a Toyopet Crown, to take part in the Mobilgas Round Australia Trial, a tough 10,560 mile race around Australia, which was designed to test the limits of both men and their machines.

It was the first time that any Japanese automobile company had competed outside Japan and an incredibly tough event, leading the competitors from mountains to deserts and swamps to jungle. It boasted an entry of 102 - including an eccentric grandmother, known as Granny Brown, who drove a 1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom to fifth place.

Of the 102 that started, many retired but the Toyopet Crown struggled through and finished 47th overall, its crew having gained precious experience and information about how to improve the car.

The following year Toyota entered three cars in the event.

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