Toyota: celebrating 20 years of car building in the UK

In December 1992, history was made when the first Toyota Carina E rolled off the line at our brand-new factory at Burnaston, in Derbyshire.

Twenty years on, it’s time to celebrate – but first we need your help as we begin our hunt for the oldest British built Carina E still on the road in the UK.

Our search offers owners of the UK’s oldest British-built Toyotas a chance to spend a week behind  the wheel of the newest – the Auris.

UPDATE: Our search has since been completed, with the discovery of Mike Hoyland’s near mint 1993 Toyota Carina E. Read his story, here.

Thanks to Toyota’s commitment to quality and reliability, a huge number of the cars are still on the road today. In fact, DVLA records show some 17,000 Carina models, built between 1992-1997 are still in regular use.

There isn’t much time, though. With little over a month to go to D-Day, we are looking to enlist the help and support of enthusiasts across the land to track down those early cars, and re-connect them with us.

Do you have a neighbour with a K-plate Carina E? Do you see one on your commute? Is there one in your local shopping centre car park? Have you seen one for sale? Spotted a minicab that fits the bill?

Tell the owner, put a note under their windscreen, but make sure you let them know: he or she could be sitting on the oldest UK-built Carina E, and Toyota would love to get in touch via our Facebook page, or by dropping us a line via the comments panel at the bottom of this article.

There’s a serious message behind the adventure of the search for the oldest car.

Toyota’s standards of build and quality are legendary – and in deciding to build in the UK, there would be no compromising of these. In 1989, when the decision was made to set-up a new assembly plant in the UK, Toyota did so only once it was reassured that British parts suppliers and assembly line workers were capable of working within the same margins as their Japanese counterparts.

By 1993, the Carina E was in full-scale production at Burnaston, beginning a long-line of D-segment saloon and hatchback production that remains in place today with the third-generation Avensis and new Auris and Auris Hybrid.

Car manufacture in the UK is currently enjoying a renaissance – numbers are up, and we’re a net-exporter of British-built cars. In 2011, 1.34 million cars were built here, and 83.7 per cent of these were shipped overseas.

And integral to this is Toyota – in 2011, more than 128,000 Auris and Avensis cars were built in Burnaston, sating European demand for its popular family cars.

So how have Toyota’s first UK-built cars been holding up over the last 20 years? Hopefully, with you’re help, the answer will soon be at hand.

How to identify your Carina E as British built

Both British and Japanese built Carina Es were sold in the UK. To check the history of your car, you’ll need to locate the VIN plate, which you will find at the back of the engine bay. The VIN includes a unique code that identifies the car’s key features. If your VIN number begins with an ‘S’, it was built in Burnaston. If it begins with a ‘J’, it was built in Japan.

How to get in touch with Toyota about the oldest Carina E

If you own a 1992/’93 Carina E on a K-registration plate, contact us via this blog, our facebook page, or alternatively email Toyota at We will need your name, address and a convenient ‘phone number.

If your car is among the earliest, you will be invited to tell the car’s story and have it photographed. If your car turns out to the be the earliest we can find, you’ll win the use of a new Auris for a week.

Spread the word by posting your pictures of early Carina Es on Facebook (‘Like’ at www. or by posting on Twitter with the hashtag #firstGBtoyota. If it’s not your car, please ask the owner’s permission (and ask them to get in touch!) If it’s you who is responsible for helping Toyota find one of its earliest UK cars, you’ll be invited to trial one of its cars for a week.

About the Toyota Carina E

The Carina E was a European adaptation of the T190-generation Corona, launched in March 1992. First sighting of the car was – now badged Carina E – at that year’s Geneva Motor Show, and it was praised for its huge interior and wide model range, with the engines spanning 1.6-, 1.8- and 2.0-litres, making it ideally placed for fighting in the UK’s company car market.

The range expanded to include estate and diesel powered models. The top of the range 130bhp twin-cam, available in GTI and Executive form was a genuine sporting saloon, with a 125mph maximum speed. The Carina E established itself as a strong and capable contender against the Ford Sierra and Vauxhall Cavaler – two contemporary rivals at launch. The Carina E remained in production until 1997, when it was replaced by the first-generation Avensis.

According to the website, there are 17,000 1992-1997 Carina Es still in use and taxed on UK roads, with a further 1700 on SORN.


  1. My dad owns an immaculate Carina E on a M Plate. He has owned it from new and will never get rid of it. It has never failed an mot!

  2. Hi, i have a Carina E 2.0 Diesel that was first registerd on 10th February 1993 but i think it was built in Japan as the VIN plate starts JT153CTK.It has 187,563 miles on it and still on the orginal engine, gearbox and clutch. I also have a Carina E 1.6 petrol that was first registerd on 10th January 1995, it was built in Britian as the VIN plate starts with SB153ABK, it has 175,332 miles on it and still on the orginal engine and gearbox but im just after putting a new clutch in it, not because the clutch was done, it was because the friction plate was starting to warp and the car was juddering when you started to move off in traffic.
    I have been driving Toyota cars from 1992, Corollas, Twincams Rear and front wheel drive, MR2’s and would drive nothing else, they are without doubt the most reliable car on the road. They are the least cars i see in my garage, it is constantly full with Volkswagon, Renault,Peugeot and Skoda, i keep telling customers to buy themselves a Toyota. If they all took my advice then i would have no work as Toyota just keep going! Just in passing i have a black 1985 AE 86 twincam Corolla fully restored with 96,000 mile on it which only gets out in the summertime, if you can call it the summertime judging by the weather we have been haveing.
    Hope this info is of some use to you,
    Best regards,
    Alistair Henry.

  3. Hi Alistair,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write to us.
    This information is very interesting to us and we’ll be in touch if this may be relevant in the future.
    We’re really pleased to hear of your loyalty to Toyota and of the heritage vehicles you own.
    We wish you many more enjoyable journeys in your Toyotas.
    Best wishes.

  4. I have a Japan built ’93 Carina E with 370.000km running smoothly (most of the time) @ very decent 5.6-6.2 l/100km on the motorway.

    A few months ago replaced the suspension and discovered there’s significant corrosion on the rear right hand side where the shock absorber is attached to the body (and the absorber itself) as well as on the bottom of the jack/tool compartment. It was a bit of a surprise but nothing too dramatic considering the age/use/climate.

    I’m never selling it as it is incredibly practical however it will likely be replaced sometime in the next year or so. I was very excited by the new Auris touring however it seems Toyota made some strange design and feature decisions. I’ll definitely wait until it’s actually out as I really want a Toyota but I’m also looking at other options.

    As a sidenote, there’s a whole lot of Carina Es still driving around in Finland and from what I could see many are on 400.000+km.

    1. Hi Jernej,
      Great to hear about your Carina E, still going strong! You’ll be in good hands with your Dealer in terms of having the car serviced and looked after. Soon you’ll have a new Auris Touring Sports at your Dealer, again keep in touch with them to get behind the wheel.
      Many thanks once again and we wish you many more happy miles in your Carina E!

  5. Hello,
    I have only just come across this article and just wanted to let you know about my Carina E. My car is a K Reg Xli Saloon in White. I bought it in 2007 with 52000 miles on the clock from 1 pervious owner. It currently has 127000 miles and is urgently having the front section of exhaust replaced but apart from this recent issue has give faultless service over the past seven years. My carina has never failed to impress me in termsofreliability and build quality. Thanks Toyota for building a great car th is still going strong 21 years on.
    Gavin Tabiner – East Yotkshire.

    1. Hello Gavin
      Many thanks for your post and it was great to hear about your ownership experience with your Carina E. Stay tuned to our Blog for Carina Blog posts coming soon.

  6. Hello everyone
    I’m a owner of a Toyota Carina E Hatchback 2.0TD, from 1997, and I’m from Portugal. I’ve search in the Google for websites for parts because I need to do some body improvements on it and it’s very difficult to find it in Portugal.
    Did someone help me or tel me a good website for find the parts that I need it.
    Thanks in advance.

  7. Hi Paulo,
    Thank you for your comment. We’d advise contacting your local Toyota dealer in your region, as they will have access to the parts database and can look up VIN specific parts for you.
    There is however, the official parts catalogue, which you will likely have to pay for access. This can be found by using the following link:
    Hope this helps.

  8. Hi

    Yes I know that I have original parts at Toyota but I try first other kind of parts because original parts are expensive.
    I will try that link.

  9. Hi I have a 1985 Camry 2.0GLI, PURCHASED IT ABOUT 9years ago, cracked windscreen, markerstudy insurance company ,AND
    Auto windscreen can’t source one , I’ve told by both source my own and pay for it, and auto windscreen will fit it.
    What’s these company’s coming to, or is it me? Now off the road for 5 weeks, I’m putting it in for a full respray.
    Insurance company and auto windscreen don’t care , but fully insured by them , (but that’s my problem) .
    Tried Toyota and all the internet sites , can you help , I’m not giving up , I had a new one in1984 dream car.
    Jt1EOSV1100310157. Model SV11R-UEPEEW

    1. Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Firstly, we are not able to comment on decisions made by third party companies.
      Unfortunately, if your Toyota Centre are not able to source the part we cannot assist you any further.

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