Chevy Cavalier heads to Japan

On this day in 1993, Toyota and General Motors sign an historic agreement: Beginning in 1996, GM will offer its bestselling Chevy Cavalier, refitted with right-hand drive, for sale in Japan. The Cavalier was one of the first American automobiles to hit the Japanese market.

The agreement that created the Toyota Cavalier was meant to help crack open the aggressively protectionist Japanese market for American imports. Many Japanese carmakers maintained that Tokyo’s laundry list of rules and regulations for foreign companies was not to blame for the massive ($37 billion) U.S. trade deficit; instead, they argued, the problem was American auto companies’ refusal to cater to the Japanese market by providing things like right-hand drive. But whatever the reason was, the fact remained that Americans imported about 2 million Japanese cars every year and exported practically zero. According to the plan, Toyota would sell 20,000 Ohio-built Cavaliers at its Japanese dealerships every year.

The Toyota Cavalier was not the same car as its American cousin. Besides the 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. It did, however, have the same innards as its Chevy counterpart—a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine—and the same American-made GM-Delco radio.

Ironically enough, Chevy had built its small, zippy Cavalier to compete with the imported compact cars that had become so popular in the U.S. during the oil crisis of the 1970s. The Cavalier replaced the Monza, a sporty coupe that had very poor fuel economy. The car went on sale in 1981 and was a hit almost right away: In 1984, it was the best-selling car in the country. To Japanese buyers, however, the car was not so appealing. In 1996, the Toyota Cavalier’s best year, Japanese customers only bought 11,467 of the cars; between October 1995 and March 2000, when GM cancelled the deal, only 36,216 sold in all.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


Lincoln delivers Gettysburg Address

On November 19, 1863, at the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln delivers one of the most memorable speeches in American history. In just 272 words, Lincoln brilliantly and movingly reminded a more

Soviet counterattack at Stalingrad

The Soviet Red Army under General Georgi Zhukov launches Operation Uranus, the great Soviet counteroffensive that turned the tide in the Battle of Stalingrad. On June 22, 1941, despite the terms of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, Nazi Germany launched a massive invasion against the more

Sadat visits Israel

In an unprecedented move for an Arab leader, Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat travels to Jerusalem to seek a permanent peace settlement with Israel after decades of conflict. Sadat’s visit, in which he met with Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and spoke before the Knesset more

Pele scores 1,000th goal

Brazilian soccer great Pele scores his 1,000th professional goal in a game, against Vasco da Gama in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium. It was a major milestone in an illustrious career that included three World Cup championships. Pele, considered one of the greatest soccer more

Cambodians appeal for help

Cambodians appeal to Saigon for help as communist forces move closer to Phnom Penh. Saigon officials revealed that in the previous week, an eight-person Cambodian delegation flew to the South Vietnamese capital to officially request South Vietnamese artillery and engineer more

Notre Dame and MSU play to a classic tie

On November 19, 1966, in college football, first-ranked Notre Dame and second-ranked Michigan State play to a 10-10 tie at Spartan Stadium. The Irish, per coach Ara Parseghian’s instructions, ran out the clock at the end of the game instead of passing to score and risking an more

James A. Garfield is born

On this day in 1831, future President James A. Garfield is born to an impoverished family near Cleveland, Ohio. He weighed a whopping 10 pounds at birth, was a voracious reader and, as a young boy, worked driving the teams of horses that pulled barges along canals. Garfield was a more

Thousands perish in St. Petersburg flood

On this day in 1824, a flood on the Neva River in Russia claims an estimated 10,000 lives. Winter came early to Russia in 1824. The very cold weather caused blocks of ice to form on the Neva River, near the city of St. Petersburg. Enough ice developed that the river’s flow was more

Patty Hearst out on bail

Patricia Campbell Hearst, a granddaughter of the legendary publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, is released on bail pending the appeal of her conviction for participating in a 1974 San Francisco bank robbery that was caught on camera. Hearst’s ordeal began on the night of more

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivers what will become one of the most famous speeches in American history, at the dedication of the military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Using just 272 words, Lincolnarticulated themeaning of the Civil War for a public more

Congress pleads for soldiers

On this day in 1776, Congress pleads for the states to send more soldiers to serve in the Continental Army, reminding them “how indispensable it is to the common safety, that they pursue the most immediate and vigorous measures to furnish their respective quotas of Troops for the more

Hitler urges Spain to grab Gibraltar

On this day in 1940, Adolf Hitler tells Spanish Foreign Minister Serano Suner to make good on an agreement for Spain to attack Gibraltar, a British-controlled region. This would seal off the Mediterranean and trap British troops in North Africa. Spain had just emerged from a more