Yes. This week I keep coming back because I have decided to spoil you good. After travelling 20 years back to the year of the Taurus and the much anticipated May World Roundup, today we explore the models that have managed to sell above 1 million units in a single year around the world.
Doesn’t seem like much, but it’s actually pretty rare for a single nameplate.
If that doesn’t sound like fun to you I won’t get offended, because you can check out the best-selling cars in 166 countries and territories on my blog. They’re all there and they’re waiting for you so click away!
Back to millionaires.
And the very first model to break the mythical barrier of one million units produced or sold in one year was the Ford Model T…
If millionaire models are still very rare nowadays you can imagine how huge a feat it would have been in 1922, 13 years after the introduction of the Model T to the US and the world, when the 1,301,067 units were churned out of Ford factories spread across the planet.
The year after in 1923, the Ford Model T became the first and only model to date to be produced at over 2 million units in a single year with 2,011,125 units. This is still today the highest annual production figure ever achieved by a single model. By then Ford was building Model T’s at a rate of up to 10,000 cars a day! For yearly production figures of the Model T click here.
The next model to achieve millionaire status is the VW Beetle. Over 25 years after its conception, 1 million Beetles came out of the Wolfsburg factory in Germany in 1965 and in 1971 1.3 million units were produced around the world, the highest yearly figure in the nameplate’s 65 year-life. I estimate that the Beetle was above 1 million annual units between 1965 and 1972.
1965 was the year of millionaires: that year the Chevrolet Impala sold 1,074,925 units in the US alone, still to this date the highest annual sales volume ever achieved by a single model in the US since World War II. In fact no other model has managed to sell over a million annual units in the US since while the Impala did it twice, passing the million benchmark again in 1966.
We then had to wait at least 20 years to welcome a new member in the millionaire club: the Toyota Corolla. Best-selling car in the world intermittently from the late seventies onwards, the Corolla could have potentially broken the million benchmark as early as in the mid-eighties, then passing it officially in 2005 (1.185m) and 2011 (1.142m).
Helped by tremendous success at home, the Ford F-Series truck sold 1,006,325 units around the world in 2000, 87% of which in the US. This is the only millionaire year for the F-Series I have official data for, however I estimate it has passed the benchmark 4 more times: in 1999 (estimated 1.001m sales), 2001 (1.047m), 2004 when it sold a record 939,511 units in the US (est. world 1.082m) and 2005 (1.031m).
Finally the VW Golf is the 6th millionaire nameplate, selling an official 1,143,044 units worldwide in 2000, but potentially passing the benchmark in 1993 also.
That’s all for today! Thanks for listening.
Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.