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Best Selling Cars of All Time Ford, Toyota or VW?

Posted by: Erik Bjornstad

Time for some bits of fun trivia. Ever since the introduction of the Benz Patent Motorwagon in 1886 (widely regarded as the first automobile – defined as a vehicle designed to be propelled by an internal combustion engine), do you know what the best selling cars of all time are?

best-selling-cars-of-all-timeAs you would expect, the correct answer has changed depending on which time period you are in. For a long time, the answer was the Ford Model T. The Model T was so dominant in the market that, after it stopped production in 1927, it was still the biggest selling car of alltime for another forty-five years.

The car that supplanted it? The Volkswagon Beatle in 1972. It remained in the top spot until the late 1990s when……you’ll have to read on to find out which car now holds that coveted title.

So here we go, the worldwide top five highest selling cars of alltime. For perspective, the former king of the hill, the Model T, is still #8 all time with 16.5 million sold.

#5 – Ford Escort (18 million)

The Escort first hit America in 1981, but it had been selling well in Europe since 1968. If you wanted to buy one of the new 1981 or 1982 models, it would set you back about $5500.  It was also my first car – I got a 1986 Ford Escort hatchback while I was in college in 1992. They stopped producing them in 2002, so there are no more new Escorts currently being made. But word is that there may be one starting sale in China in the very near future.

#4 –Volkswagon Beetle (23.5 million)

Almost as impressive as the Model T’s ranking is the Beetle’s standing as the longest running “single-platform” production car of all time.  It was originally envisioned by Adolph Hitler as a car for the everyday worker and was first produced in 1938. More memorably, it helped Dean Jones and Buddy Hackett triumph in the El Dorado Road Race in 1968.

#3 – Volkswagon Golf (27.5 million)

The Golf is genetically related to the Beetle in that it was engineered to be its replacement for the 1974 model year. Some may remember it as the Rabbit, its name until they changed it to the Golf in 2006-2010. It has won multiple Car of the Year awards, and is one of the only two cars (with the Clio) to win the European award more than once.

#2 – Ford F-Series (over 35 million)

Far and away the highest selling truck of alltime. Technically it’s multiple truck models delineated mainly by size (F-150, F-350, etc.)  But it still makes #2 on this list.  It was introduced in 1948 as the Ford Bonus Built, and the first models were not very highly regarded for their quality.  But Ford really put a lot of work and improvements to change that. Now, the F-series has legions of loyal buyers.  Demand keeps increasing enough that Ford’s Kansas City plant had to add a third shift to keep up.

#1 – Toyota Corolla (over 40 million)

So many Corollas have been sold, Toyota couldn’t pinpoint when or where the landmark 40 millionth car was sold. The first model came out in 1966 and it was so successful, it had become top-selling car in the world by 1974. They believe it surpassed the Beetle for the all time number spot in 1997. Each year, they add 300,000 more to the total.

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This post was published on June 12, 2015 and was updated on August 2, 2022.

Topics: Car Care