The humble Toyota Corolla is celebrating its 40th birthday. Now control yourself because this is clearly exciting stuff.

It may have a reputation of being one the dullest cars around, but through many overhauls and redesigns, more cars called Corolla have rolled off the production than any other – an incredible 31.6 million.

The first Corolla hit the Japanese market in the autumn of 1966, the same year as Start Trek first aired, the Barclaycard was introduced and England won some sort of global trophy for a sport called football. Since then, it has had more facelifts than a sexagenarian former beauty queen and been manufactured in 16 countries including Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, China and dear old Blighty.

In 2005 alone, Toyota shifted 1.36 million Corollas, which probably goes to show that it’s a car suitable to the needs of a variety of motorists. Sure, some critics might suggest that means blandness – and in the past, that’s been a fair comment – but today’s Corolla is much better than that, even though it’s now become a relatively pricey number – especially in its much more practical MPV Verso form.