Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: When Oldsmobile Was Top Of The Class

Matt Gasnier
by Matt Gasnier

Over the last few weeks we have visited Panama, Colombia, China and Indonesia. But really, I know the post you liked most was when I went back in time to explore America in 1986. Come on, you know it’s true.

Which is why I have more time travel for you this week: let’s go back to 1975, a time when the average house cost $39,000, the average new car $4,250, both inflation and unemployment rates hit 9.2% and a gallon of gas cost an outrageous 44 cents…but most importantly it was the year Jaws was released.

If the idea of going back to these depressing times is not what you need today, that’s ok. I have prepared 160 countries for you to visit in my blog, and I can tell you it is worth the browse, so click away!

“It’s a good feeling to have an Olds around you” the ad said, and a lot of Americans agreed…

The 1975 US ranking I have for you this week is the best-selling American Passenger Cars, so before you ask, no there are no imports – Toyota led the way then apparently but I don’t have any official figures – and there are no trucks – the Ford F-Series only took the lead in 1977 so the best-selling truck would probably have been a Chevrolet then.

America’s favorite car in 1975 was the Oldsmobile Cutlass. Yes, it’s hard to believe that a brand that doesn’t exist anymore today could produce the best-selling model in the entire country then…but it was 36 years ago after all.

The Cutlass is up 8 spots and 20% on 1974 to grab the pole position with 324,610 sales. The Cutlass would be a regular fixture atop the US ranking up until the early eighties.

In second place we find the Ford Granada, a huge success for its first full year of sales in the country at 291,140 units.

The Chevrolet Chevelle is 3rd with 276,206 sales, it has been on the podium for a few years…

…ahead of the Ford Pinto at 271,880 units. This is much lower than the last couple of years, possibly showing that America’s oil crisis-forced love story with the small car is about to end…

The Chevrolet Monte Carlo is 5th with 267,803 sales…

…followed by the Chevrolet Nova is #6 with 256,438 sales…

…and the Plymouth Valiant dropping from 2nd place in 1974 to 7th in 1975.

The other 2 American cars to sell over 200,000 units in 1975 are the Chevrolet Vega and Ford LT D.

Further down the ranking, notice the Dodge Dart in 13th position…

…the Chevrolet Monza up 64 spots to #19

and the Ford Elite up 33 spots to

Matt Gasnier
Matt Gasnier

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  • VikingBlue VikingBlue on Aug 10, 2012

    With all the comments here about the 1975 Cutlass being gutless, etc., you have to remember that most of the American seventies cars were about low emmissions,5 mph bumpers and rear axle ratios in 2:41 range to supposedly enhance mpg. The 1973 -77 Cutlass were heavy tanks with lower hp engines to meet the EPA standards of the time. I've owned many Cutlasses of the 1970's and never had multiple transission problems or the pathetic 9 mpg gas mileage as one poster commented. One was a 1975 Cutlass Salon that was still running great with original engine /transmission at 170,00 miles in 1995. It was only retired that year because of a very worn front suspension and the body was getting rough from 20 winters of road salt. Even with those issues, I still have days that I regret giving up on that car so soon.

  • Bill mcgee Bill mcgee on Aug 14, 2013

    What's striking looking back is how few of these cars I ever drove in or even rode in back in the day , as I would have been 21 back then . Driven new , even fewer . I was in college and a roommmate had a new 1975 Rabbit in an awful chartreuse color ( a total POS ) and a GF who had a '75 Mustang II Ghia in that peculiar yellow / olive color vinyl top and interior combo that only Ford was doing , with the stick and V-6 . The only other I remember driving was a cousin's 1975 Le Mans coupe and a friend's mom's Maverick, a GF's pale yellow / white v-top Elite and many many of the Cutlasses , driving or riding , worked with many woman in the shitty jobs I had in the early 80s still driving these . Back in 1975 , as a poor college student , it was a 5 year old VW for my own car or a bicycle , to for ease of parking at school and that expensive 50 cent a gallon or whatever it was back then and most of my friends were driving very used air-cooled VWs or parental castoffs , and yeah they had way more character than today's cars but were not very good cars .

  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.
  • ToolGuy Also on to-do list: Read the latest Steve S. fiction work on TTAC (May 20 Junkyard Find)
  • 1995 SC I'm likely in the minority, but I really liked the last Eldorado best. That and the STS.