Britain’s oldest Toyota Carina E found!

Here it is – we’ve finally tracked down one of the oldest British-built Toyota Carina Es still on the road in the UK!

Our search for the earliest running example of the first model made at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK factory in Derbyshire gained huge exposure – and after chasing down leads, we’ve located the one of the earliest Carina Es still on the road.

Mike Hoyland’s Carina E was registered in July 1993, and was built during our Burnaston factory’s early months.

It’s testament to the quality and reliability of Toyota’s UK manufacturing effort that it’s remained on the road ever since – here’s the story

December 16, 1992 was a groundbreaking day for Toyota. It marked the first day of Carina E production in the company’s state-of-the-art factory in Burnaston, near Derby. Not bad, considering the decision to build here was taken just three years before, with Toyota Manufacturing UK (TMUK) being set-up in December 1989.

It’s an ongoing success story more than 20 years on, with TMUK’s investment now topping £1.4 billion. In 2012, 109,502 Avensis and Auris models were built there by a dedicated and expert workforce.

The Carina E was launched in the UK and Europe in March 1992, but for the first nine months, cars sold here were actually imported in from Japan. Despite that, Toyota called it the ‘E’ to denote that it had been tuned to appeal to European tastes, and to reflect its eventual UK production. Once on sale, the Carina E soon started selling strongly – both on the back of the memorable advertising campaign (that featured Enya’s Book of Days), and the brilliant strapline, ‘the car in front is a Toyota.’ 20 years on, people still say that.

It’s possible that Mike Hoyland was humming that Enya song when he walked into his local Toyota dealership with a view to buying one. It was July 1993, and he decided that he wanted a new car to replace his trusty Honda Accord. He’d worked hard for it, too: ‘I had taught chemistry for 30 odd years, and decided to buy one using my redundancy money,’ he says.

The car Mike went for was a Carina E GL four-door saloon, which came up to the princely sum of £13,175.00. ‘I still have the original invoice, and I let a friend adopt the Honda, so there was no trade-in against the Carina.,’ Mike smiles. Needless to say, Mike took delivery on 1 August – L-registration day – in order to maximise that new car experience.

And coming up to 20 years on, Mike still has that Carina E. And he loves it. ‘It has been absolutely reliable, he says. ‘It runs almost silently, and the exhaust has only been replaced once. At 32,000 miles, the Lambda sensor packed up, but I was advised to contact Toyota GB headquarters in Redhill, which I did. And without any query, they agreed to stand the cost.’ Other consumables have included one starter motor, a shock absorber, and a couple of radiators.

‘But that’s all not bad for 20 years and 153,000 miles, eh,’ Mike smiles.

Britain’s oldest Toyota Carina E 1

Other than that, the Carina has run like clockwork, proving that the Toyota’s British workers can build a car to the same exacting quality standards as their Japanese counterparts. There was one other issue, but that’s hardly the car’s fault: ‘The remote locking has failed partly due to someone taking a screwdriver to the lock,’ Mike says. ‘They didn’t get in, but the lock had to be changed.’

Mike’s Carina E is your typical family hack, and gets used properly – it’s no cossetted museum piece. ‘There’s a bit of rust on the front wings,’ he adds. But it is has been perfect. ‘It has taken the family all over without a blip; we have carried my son’s bicycle and goods to and from Nottingham University when he was a student, and it is easy to carry 5m lengths of timber through the sunroof – and that was standard fit in 1993.’

Did Mike buy the car because it was made in the UK, or because it was a Toyota? ‘I hadn’t realised it was one of the earliest of the cars made here, although there was a small label to that effect somewhere at the top of the windscreen,’ he confirms.

And is Mike a car fan? ‘Oh yes, I like cars, and I take an interest in what’s on the road,’ he smiles. ‘I read reports, but don’t think that they are as unbiased as they would like to appear. The Carina “wasn’t inspiring” they said, but how many cars can compare with mine without special treatment?’

He’s also a Toyota fan. ‘The company is supportive of its cars and the customers. My favourite cars are the final-shape MR2, the old Celica and the new GT86. Back to reality, the Yaris Trend looks great, and what I’ve heard concerning the Auris is also good. But if money is object, then a Lexus GS would fit the bill perfectly,’ Mike says.

And would he have another Toyota? ‘Certainly! But the Carina E looks like it’s going on forever, and you can’t just walk away from a best pal can you?’

Britain’s oldest Toyota Carina E 2

Britain’s oldest Toyota Carina E 3

134 comments

  1. We’re all Carina E’s built in the UK? There was an older one than that driving locally (in Ireland) last time I was home, 92-TN-901

  2. Hi Barry,
    The Carina E was built in both the UK and Japan. In December 1992, the first Toyota Carina E was produced at our factory in Burnaston, Derbyshire. The VIN number of a Carina E identifies where it was built, if it begins with an ‘S’, it was built in Burnaston. If it begins with a ‘J’, it was built in Japan.
    Thanks for your comment and we hope this helps.

  3. Hi Amy,

    Thanks very much for that info. I never realised they were Japanese imports. My father did have a 1995 Carina E from new which would gave been a Burnaston built car. While it gave a lot of mechanical trouble the local dealership, Toyota IRL and factory engineers went out of their way to right every wrong. Myself and my father (now sadly passed away) both had many Toyota since and enjoyed the great after sales care from Toyota.

  4. Hi Barry,
    Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
    We’re so pleased to hear of your family’s loyalty with Toyota and the After Sales care received during this time.
    If we can ever help you in any way, please do let us know.
    Have a lovely weekend.

    1. My uncle has a 1.6gli 4 door carina e in atlantic blue.

      Only done genuine 20000 miles with fsh.

      Registered 31.5.1993 on a k plate. serial umber SB153AOL00EOO7531.

      Is this one of the oldest Carinas on the go. Drives as sweet as new.

    2. Hi, I also have a 1993 carina e diesel, which has just short of 175miles, it’s the liftback model which never sold here in ireland, so it came from UK via japan, it never gave me any trouble and probably one of the best cars I’ve ever driven, original paint never skips a beat,

      1. Hi Stephen
        Thank you for taking the time to post. Great to here about your Carina. We really appreciate hearing from owners with stories about their car. We would love to see a picture of your Carina on our Facebook page (Toyota UK).

  5. ONLY 150K on the clock?! I have one that’s three years younger than this, and with 213,500 up, it’s still running as well as it did when I took it for a test drive nine years ago, and that was after seven previous owners. Anyone I encounter who has had any dealings with this iconic car tells me to “keep it till it dies”. The way it’s going right now, I think that’ll be quite some time away yet!

  6. I have a Burnaston produced Carina e also. It was registered for the road in june 1994 and is on a L plate. However it was on the road before thie even then, as it initially had a non transferrable registration plate prior to receiving the current L plate. It qwas probablyu a demonstator model. how can i find out when it was made? It is is in lovely condition still having spent most of its life in London. Simon Brundret

    1. Hi Simon,
      Many thanks for your message.
      You can check where your Carina E was made by looking at the beginning letters of the VIN number. For example, the 17-character code on the VIN plate starts with an S for Burnaston (UK) built vehicles.
      Thanks again for your message.

  7. My carina e first registered dec 1992, 151.000 miles on clock ,original clutch, gearbox, even original exhaust great car!! I’ve owned it from new. only ever had to replace radiator 2 years ago. this car just keeps going

  8. Nice Carina.

    My dad bought a new one in 1994, also build in the UK.
    It still runs great, having around 80.000 miles so far.
    Original exhaust and original owner.
    The UK made Carina is a quality car, like the Japan made.
    Greetings from Norway.

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