The history of the automobile now spans more than two centuries, and since then technology and user needs have evolved dramatically. But, which models were able to better understand those needs? We tell you.
The origins of the automobile date back to the 18th century, when Ettiene Lenoir registered the first patent for an internal combustion vehicle, although steam-powered vehicles had already existed before.
Since then, the automotive industry has evolved incredibly and, at this moment, it is at one of the most important points in its history, in full transition to the ecological vehicle , which seems to be electric.
The Volkswagen Type 1 is the longest-lived car on the world market, since it was launched in 1938
But, as is obvious, electric and hybrid cars do not appear among the best sellers in history, even though the Tesla Model 3 has reached the milestone of being the best seller in Europe in the month of September.
This honor falls to the now ‘traditional’ cars with thermal or combustion engines, which since the beginning of the 20th century have dominated the race of evolution and, therefore, the automotive market with an iron hand . Many of the millions of cars manufactured have passed unnoticed, others have left an unforgettable legacy for different reasons.
But only a few have the privilege of being among the best sellers in history. Do you want to know the highlights?
13. BMW 3 Series – 14 million units
The BMW 3 Series always has a lot of competition, but it continues to succeed in the market.
The legendary BMW saloon is probably the most successful and appreciated premium D-segment vehicle in history thanks to a career that began in 1975 and is far, far away from ending despite the unstoppable advance of SUVs in the market. .
Throughout these more than 45 years of history, the BMW 3 Series has evolved through seven generations in which it has been offered in bodies of a two-door coupe, a four-door saloon, a five-door estate and even a two-door convertible. doors.
Thanks to this, its sales figures already exceed 14 million registered units. And, thanks to its constant and successful adaptation to the times, surely there are many more.
12. Chevrolet Impala – 14 million units
The Chevrolet Impala, icon of culture.
When Chevrolet launched the Impala in 1959, it probably didn’t expect to be so successful with this E-segment sedan that has been sold more than 14 million times.
What surely the American brand did not expect either is to have to cease production of the Impala due to the rise in sales of SUVs , which have almost completely engulfed sedans and minivans.
Ten generations of the Impala have circulated on the roads, mainly in the United States, the last one being launched in 2013 and saying goodbye to the market in 2020, weeks before the start of the pandemic.
11. Ford Fiesta – 15 million units
The car evolves… and the Fiesta with it.
The car that has the honor of being the best-selling utility vehicle in history is the Ford Fiesta, launched in 1976 and which, since then, has kept its name and essence unchanged. And it is that the Fiesta formula clearly works, as 15 million vehicles produced and more than four decades on the market attest to this.
The Fiesta has grown in size in line with market trends, but throughout its seven generations it has remained a utility vehicle that, yes, has never given up having a sports version. Soon, the Fiesta will evolve again thanks to the eighth generation.
10. Ford Model T – 15/16 million units
The Ford Model T, the car that changed automotive history forever.
We are talking about the myth created by Henry Ford who popularized the use of the automobile thanks to its mass production. The Model T began the path of the automobile as one of the most popular elements of society, selling between 15 and 16 million units between 1908 and 1927.
This gives us an idea of the relevance of this vehicle at a time like that, thanks to its mass production that allowed prices to drop a lot, thus making them accessible to the middle class.
The reality is that the Ford Model T was not the first mass-produced vehicle (this honor goes to Ransom Olds), but it was undoubtedly “the people’s car” and the one that laid the foundations for the future of the automobile thanks to the industrialization of the assembly line by the Ford Motor Company.
9. Volkswagen Passat – 15.5 million units
The Passat is a great car, whichever way you look at it.
Another of the mythical and most relevant sedans in automobile history is the Volkswagen Passat, which began to be marketed in 1973 and, since then, has remained unperturbed in the market like a rock.
At least for the moment, the Passat resists the push of the SUV and is updated with a mechanical range adapted to current times, increasing its characteristic ride comfort and manufacturing quality with each of the eight generations present on the market over the years. over almost half a century.
8. Honda Accord – 17.5 million units
It’s been a long time since the launch of the first Honda Accord.
Although the Accord is no longer sold in Europe, it continues to do so in strategic markets for Honda such as the United States, so the more than 17 million units sold will continue to grow in the future.
The Honda Accord was launched in 1976 and since then has evolved from a modest compact to a pretentious sedan . Its ten generations attest to this, although the rise of SUVs has significantly diminished its success in recent years.
7. VAZ 2101 – 19 million units
The first VAZ 2101 was basically a FIAT 124.
The Russian brand AvtoVAZ launched the 2101, also marketed as Lada Zhiguli, in 1969, and has kept it on the market until 2012. This modest sedan was conceived on the basis of the FIAT 124 and the truth is that it did not evolve excessively to throughout its 43 years of presence in the market.
The VAZ 2101 has served as the basis for numerous VAZ/Lada models and, although its official production ceased on April 17, 2012 , the production rights were ceded to a Russian (Kalashnikov Corporation) and a Ukrainian (Bogdan) plant, by so there are still sales of this model.
6. Ford Escort – 20 million units
The Ford Escort RS Cosworth is one of the great icons of the 80s and 90s.
Another of the legendary automobile world, the Ford Escort, reached 20 million registered units throughout its extensive 35-year journey on the market.
The Escort, which arrived in 1968 as a replacement for the Anglia, was finally replaced by the also best-selling Focus in 2003 , but before that it became one of the most relevant compacts in history over six generations.
Versatile like few others, the Ford Escort has been offered to the public in various bodies: saloon, hatchback, station wagon and even as a van, also being one of the most relevant models in the world of rallies.
5. Honda Civic – 18/20 million units
The Honda Civic also has its sports variant.
The best-selling Honda in history is also around the figure of 20 million units along a path that began in 1972 and has not stopped yet, as the 11th generation is close to being marketed.
The Honda Civic began its journey on the market as a two-door utility vehicle that soon grew to become a three-door hatchback. The following year, it was named Car of the Year in Europe and, since then, its versatility and progressive evolution have guaranteed it a successful presence in the market.
4. Volkswagen Type 1 – 21.5/23 million units
The Volkswagen Beetle, a classic among classics.
It is possible that few know the Volkswagen Type 1, but if we call it by its most popular name, “Beetle” or “Beetle”, things change a lot.
The Type 1 is not only one of the best-selling cars in history, with reports that speak of up to 23 million units, but it is the longest-lived on the world market, since it was launched in 1938 in Germany and has remained active in Mexico until 2003.
The Beetle was conceived as a low-cost car with very little maintenance and equally low fuel consumption. That made him very popular and even World War II couldn’t beat him .
Of course, this war period ended when the Type 1 took off definitively with its serial production, eventually becoming an icon of hippie culture and even tuning . Not in vain is it considered one of the five most influential cars in history.
3. Volkswagen Golf – 30.5/35 million units
Oscar Magro tells us everything about the king of compacts: the Volkswagen Golf.
But if the Type 1 succeeded in the market, what to say about the Volkswagen Golf, the king of compacts for decades. Launched on the market in 1974 , since then it has evolved over eight generations that have allowed it to obtain fame, even on excessive occasions.
Be that as it may, this compact segment C is the true king of the market in many countries around the world, because it is not for nothing that the sales figures exceed 30 million and could even reach 35, according to some reports. Speechless.
2. Ford F-Series – 35/40 million units
The Ford F-150 continues to be the great pick-up of the American market.
THE TRUCK, with capital letters. And it is that the F-Series has been for many years the best-selling vehicle in history and is still on the market with its different variants. Its commercialization began in 1948 with the F-100 model , which was sold in different parts of the world until its disappearance in 2012.
For its part, the F-150 model hit the market in 1980 and maintains its vigor thanks, among other things, to the evolution clearly represented in the Lightning version, a 100% electric pick-up already in production.
1. Toyota Corolla – 50 million units
So are all versions of the Toyota Corolla 2019.
We finally reached the top of this ranking with what is, by far, the best-selling car in automotive history. The Toyota Corolla recently surpassed 50 million units sold since its launch in October 1966 .
Since then, the compact C segment has evolved and expanded its legend over 12 generations , the last of which was launched in 2019 and is sold with Hatchback, Station Wagon, Sedan and even SUV bodies, under the name of Corolla Cross for the Latin American and Southeast Asian markets.