Translation: Japanese cars were thought of as cheap tin boxes that would never make it through a Minnesota winter. That was the mentality of the American consumer until the last couple of decades. It does help that several Japanese automakers set up shop building vehicles on our soil to change our collective minds.
My childhood was dictated by a few well-known facts about the USA automotive market. One, I lived in California. This was a very convenient place for importers to start their operations first, as its ports were across the Pacific from Japan and the Republic of Korea. Also, the state’s market had a track record of customer acceptance of Japanese and Korean imports. Toyota and Nissan started in California and saw their fortunes grow there over time.
At a time when the call was to tune down the horsepower and prepare for an oil crisis, a recession and a never ending war overseas, domestic automakers figured it was high time to build another round of compact cars. By going smaller, there were two routes to take: Build them domestically or import them from a global partner somewhere. Three out of the four North American automakers chose the latter.