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.