Over the last few weeks we’ve been to Botswana, Malta, Bangladesh and Venezuela. Well I have a surprise for you this week: we are going to the most exotic of places – to the eighties! We travel 25 years back in time, back to homely United States of America, and, you know, party like it’s 1986! You are welcome. That’s what friends are for.
Now, I know it is controversial to study the US in an article titled ‘Around The Globe’ but hey, I pride myself to be able to surprise you week after week so you can’t be mad at me for trying… The only thing is, 1986 might be a very bad year for you to remember and a bad idea for me to pick…. could be for any reason (don’t tell me) but it’s ok if so, there are 155 (truly exotic) countries to visit in my blog, and I can tell you it is just great, so click away!
Back to 1986. This was a time when the Top 6 best-selling vehicles in the US and 8 of the Top 10 were all American… Livin’ in America, baby!
The Ford F-Series was already in the lead in 1986. After becoming the best-selling truck in the country in 1977, it advanced to the #1 spot overall in 1982 and kept it warm by the time 1986 was around the corner (and still has to this day)… The 544,969 sales lodged by the F-Series in 1986 are still a far cry from its peak of 940,000 in 2004 but comparable to its 2010 level (528,349).
In 2nd place, the Chevrolet Celebrity shines and is the best-selling passenger car in the country with 408,946 sales. This would be its last year atop the passenger car ranking as it will be passed by the Ford Escort in 1987 and 1988 before the Honda Accord took the reins in 1989.
Just under the Celebrity we find the Chevrolet C/K Pick-up with 403,150 sales…
…Followed by the Ford Escort at 402,181 units.
The Chevrolet Cavalier is 5th with 357,120 sales and would stay in the Top 10 for many years to come.
Oldsmobile places the Ciera in 6th position at 329,930 units.
The Honda Accord kicked off production in the US in 1982 and has been the best-selling Japanese passenger car ever since. It is the case in 1986 when the Accord ranks 7th with 325,004 sales. Note that in 1986 the Honda Accord is the only Japanese car in the Top 15! How times have changed… Interestingly, the Toyota Pick-up ranks 8th with 320,748 sales, a performance that the current Tundra and Tacoma have both failed to reiterate in the last decade.
The Ford Ranger is #9 with 269,490 units sold.
The Ford Tempo closes the Top 10 with 265,382 sales.
Launched in 1985, the Ford Taurus first generation is already #11 for its first full year of sales in 1986 with 263,450 units sold, missing the Top 10 for a couple of thousands units… This is the start of a brilliant career spanning almost two decades and leading the Taurus to the top of the passenger car ranking from 1992 to 1996.
The Top 15 best-selling vehicles in the US in 1986:
Now for the much awaited gold nugget for you to show off in dinners. When I said the Ford F-Series became the US’s best-selling vehicle in 1982, I saw some of you wondering which car was best-seller before it. Yes you in the back, and you on the right: I saw you raise your hand to ask the question… And the answer is: the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme… Yes sir. But that is a whole other story…
Now my dearest readers: first, thank you for reading thus far! Man, you are interested in car sales aren’t you?! Given you are that interested I have a service/donation to ask of you: if any of you has detailed models rankings in the USA before 1986 (and for 1987-91 by the same token) please can you be so kind as to comment on this post and let me know? No need to expose your email address to the whole world, just comment on here and I’ll get in touch with you! – You will not regret this: I can promise you fame, how about that?!
Thank you very much for your help in advance, it is very much appreciated.
For after 1986, you can check out a yearly update all the way up to 2011 in my blog on the USA Historical pages. (Scroll all the way down to reach the direct links to the yearly posts)
Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.