These Are the Best-selling Cars of All Time

By R.P. Hogan
Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter
Photo Courtesy: Saschaporsche/Wikimedia Commons

While most dream of cruising in a Ferrari or Lamborghini, it’s rare for luxury cars to land a spot on automotive bestseller lists. Drivers are opting to purchase more practical vehicles over more expensive models. Sales trends prove that drivers value dependable vehicles that are both safe and sensible.

Wondering where your car stands in comparison? Check out these best-selling cars of all time.        

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Volkswagen Passat: 15.5 Million Sold

The Passat was first introduced as a family sedan in Europe back in 1973, with styling by the legendary Italian automotive designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro. In the United States, this car was known as the Volkswagen Dasher. Over the decades, it has gone through several iterations, as both a sedan and a station wagon, and was named European Car of the Year in 2015.

volkwagson passat
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The Passat New Midsize Sedan (NMS) was launched in North America in 2011, and is manufactured at Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It immediately won Motor Trend’s “Car of the Year Award,” and though sales have dropped by roughly 50 percent since the hoopla surrounding its debut, it remains a popular sedan.

Fiat Uno: 8.8 Million Sold

This Italian supermini has a big legacy: with more than 8.8 million cars produced during its 30-year run, the Fiat Uno is the eighth-most produced car in the world. Combining aerodynamic design and superior fuel economy with a thoughtfully designed interior, the Uno was considered one of the most innovative cars in the market at the time.

fiat uno
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The sporty and fuel efficient Uno was manufactured in Italy from 1983 until 1995 when production was moved to Brazil, where it remained until Fiat closed the line in 2013. By then, the Uno had cemented its status as one of the world’s best-selling cars and an influential figure in the world of subcompact cars.

Honda Accord: 17 Million Sold

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Honda Accord was the most frequently purchased Japanese car in the United States, with millions of models sold. At least some of that popularity stems from the fact that Honda was the first Japanese company to transfer some of its manufacturing to American auto plants back in 1982, when its Marysville, Ohio facility began producing second-generation Accord hatchbacks.

honda accord
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But the Accord is also an extremely popular car because it’s an extremely reliable car. No other automobile, has appeared on Car & Driver’s “10 Best” list as frequently as the Accord over the last four decades. It was also named “North American Car of the Year” as recently as 2018.

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Ford Escort: 18 Million Sold

Since the late ‘60s, Ford Motor Company had been selling Escorts as small family cars in Europe. When a problem with the Pinto’s fuel tank sidelined production in 1980, the company introduced the Escort and it quickly became one of the company’s most popular models.

ford escort
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After several iterations, production on the Escort tapered off in the early 2000s; the final version was known simply as the ZX2. It was replaced by the Ford Focus, which you’ll learn of later in this list. 

Honda Civic: 16.5 Million Sold

Honda’s first Civic model was extremely popular in the 1970s, during a time when oil shortages compelled drivers to seek out cars with greater fuel efficiency. For this reason, in 1974, Road Test named the Civic its “Car of the Year.” The car has remained constant through multiple redesigns – apart from a dip in the years following the 2008 recession, American car buyers have purchased roughly 300,000 Civics a year since 1997.

honda civic
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The Civic has also become a popular racing car, and its speed led to a role in The Fast and the Furious. In the film, Vin Diesel and his gang use a fleet of 1993 Civics to hijack a semi-truck on the open road at night.

Volkswagen Beetle: 21.5 Million Sold

The Beetle, popularly known as the “Bug,” is possibly the single most recognizable automobile of the 20th century. Its unusual shape and features, like a rear-placed engine, often made it the butt of jokes, but its affordable price made it one of the most common cars on the road. The car made “Punch Buggy” a popular, yet bruising, game for entire generations of American youths on family road trips.

Volkswagen Beetle
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Although it was developed in the 1930s, production didn’t really kick into gear until after World War II was over, when Allied forces occupying Germany reopened the Volkswagen factory. Production on the classic Beetle model continued until 2003. Since then, Volkswagen has introduced two new, sleeker models that drew inspiration from the original classic design.

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Ford F-Series: 34 Million Sold

In its own way, the F-Series truck is as integral to the Ford brand as the original Model T. It’s been the most popular pickup truck in the US for more than four decades. (Over the last three decades, though, it’s the best-selling vehicle of any kind). It’s become one of the most lucrative brands in history, bringing in more in annual revenue than even Coca-Cola.

ford f-series
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Not bad for a truck that can trace its origins all the way back to 1948. Since then, the F-Series has gone through a dozen regenerations, and though sales dipped in the late 2000s, it’s back on track to selling nearly one million units per year in the United States alone.

Toyota Corolla: 44.1 Million Sold

In the early 1970s, the Corolla was the best-selling car in the entire world. The name comes from the Latin word for “little crown,” a reference to the car’s original status as a subcompact version of the Crown sedan. Since then, the Corolla has grown in size to a compact vehicle, and in any configuration remains wildly popular. More than 40 million Corollas were produced in its first half-century of production.

Toyota Corolla
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Although Corolla sales in the United States were impacted by the late 2000s recession, Toyota was able to bounce back quickly, with sales of more than 300,000 units a year. The latest version has several variations, including hatchback, station wagon and sedan models.

Chevrolet Impala: 14 Million Sold

General Motors introduced the Chevrolet Impala in 1958 as part of its fiftieth-anniversary celebrations, promoting the car as a top of the line vehicle. Chevy went all-in on the Impala, producing more than 175,000 sports coupes and convertibles the first year.

chevrolet impala
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The company would tinker with the car’s design over the next seven years, and in 1965, they hit the jackpot, selling more than one million cars in a single year. In more recent years, as sales for sedans have dwindled to under 100,000 units a year, General Motors has decided to shut down production of the Impala at its Detroit assembly plant by early 2020.

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Volkswagen Golf: 30 Million Sold

Although the Beetle may be Volkswagen’s most recognizable automobile, the Golf is actually the best-seller. In fact, with more than 30 million sold, it’s one of the most popular cars in the entire world, rivaling the Toyota Corolla and the Ford F-Series.

volkswagen golf
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Italian auto designer Giorgetto Giugiaro developed the Golf around the same time as his work on Volkswagen’s Passat. It was introduced in 1974 (a year after the larger sedan) and became a popular option for single drivers and families seeking a smaller vehicle. Its basic design has also been the foundation for other subsequent VW models, including the Cabriolet convertible and the Jetta sedan (which is essentially a Golf with a bigger trunk in back).

Mazda 323: 10 Million Sold

When Japanese car manufacturer Mazda put the 323 into production in 1963, privately-owned cars were just coming onto the market and were considered by many Japanese to be a luxury item. Mazda hoped that their sporty and reasonably priced model would change all that, and over the course of the next 40 years, it became one of their best-selling models.

mazda 323
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Mazda upgraded the original model every five years, resulting in eight generations of the 323 that included everything from hatchbacks and sedans to wagons and trucks. Design tweaks over the decades included new grillwork, wider chassis and new headlight styles. They even branched out into rally cars that proved popular with professional drivers.

Mini Cooper: 5.3 Million Sold

Originally manufactured in the 1960s by the British Motor Corporation, Mini Coopers are now produced by BMW (who took over the brand in 1994) and quickly became one of their best-selling models. The Mini’s compact design and sporty style makes them the perfect car for city-dwellers and other drivers who want a smaller car profile.

mini cooper
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Since BMW re-introduced the Mini Cooper in 2001 with a two-door model inspired by an archival design, the brand has enjoyed double-digit growth in yearly sales in the US; over 300,000 cars were sold worldwide in 2012. The line now encompasses a stylish convertible design, a roomy estate model called “Clubman,” and even a racing-inspired Mini Roadster. 

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Chevrolet Cavalier: 423,000 Sold

If you started driving in the ‘80s and ‘90s, chances are good your first car was a Chevy Cavalier. At the time, Japanese imports from Toyota and Mazda were flooding the market and the Cavalier was Chevy’s attempt to compete in terms of style and price. It worked – the small, but powerful, model became one of their best-sellers.

chevrolet cavalier
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The Cavalier, which was introduced in 1982, offered customers a choice of four different body styles, a stylish interior that could fit up to four passengers and a low sticker price. The design underwent several design upgrades and continued to be one of Chevy’s most profitable models before being discontinued in 2005. 

Buick LeSabre: 6 Million Sold

Combining a powerful V8 engine with a sleek design, the full-size LeSabre was both Buick’s entry-level full-size sedan and its best-selling model. The last LeSabre rolled off the manufacturer’s Detroit assembly line in 2005, and have sold millions through its nearly 50-year production run, one of the longest in General Motors history.

Buick LeSabre
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The LeSabre was actually a rebrand of another, older, model, the Buick Special. But quickly became popular with drivers due to its stylish design and powerful engines. The LeSabre went through eight generations of improvements and mechanical upgrades while maintaining Buick’s long legacy of full-size sedans with best-in-class safety and comfort. 

Volkswagen Polo: 12 Million Sold

Even though it’s not available in the United States (the closest you’ll get is the similarly-sized Golf), the Polo is one of Volkswagen's best-selling subcompact cars. In 2010, it was even named “World Car of the Year.” Customers love its small design, one that’s perfect for city living, and the fact it comes in hatchback, sedan and estate body styles.

volkwagen polo
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Since its initial production in 1975, the Polo has sold more than 12 million units, making it one of the most popular cars in Europe. VW has gone through six generations of the Polo, refining everything from the engine configuration to body styles, ensuring that customers always have a new model to look forward to. 

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Ford Model T: 16.5 Million Sold

There were other automobiles before the Model T, but this is the car that’s truly at the foundation of America’s driving culture. When Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908, his reliance on assembly line production and interchangeable parts enabled him to price the car within the range of many middle-class Americans. This was a key turning point in transforming the automobile from an indulgence for the wealthy into an increasingly integral part of ordinary life.

modelt
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The Model T also had a massive effect on the nation’s industry. Ford wasn’t the first auto manufacturer to set up shop in Detroit, Michigan, but his success brought other companies like General Motors and Chrysler there as well, making the city an economic powerhouse in mid-century America.

Oldsmobile Cutlass: 11 Million Sold

From its beginnings as Oldsmobile’s entry into the world of compact cars to its eventual reign as one of the best-selling automobiles in the world, the Cutlass occupies an important place in American auto history. Oldsmobile had sold over 11 million units by the time the company ceased production in 1999.

oldsmobile cutlass
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Oldsmobile, which itself shut down in 2004, originally introduced the Cutlass in 1961 with options for a four-door sedan or a four-door station wagon. Unfortunately, it was their least expensive model. Over time, the Cutlass line grew to include a sporty coupe and a convertible, with plenty of under-the-hood improvements, as well.

Toyota Prius: 4 Million Sold

In 2018, Business Insider named the Toyota Prius the “most important car of the last 20 years,” and it’s not hard to see why. Since launching in 1997, the game-changing hybrid has sold more than four million units (which doesn’t include the various Lexus models and others that Toyota now makes) and became the de facto symbol of what the 21st century can – and should – be.

toyota prius
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The first Prius on the market was a standard four-door sedan, but since 2003, has only been offered in a now-signature four-door liftback style. After three years of being sold exclusively in Japan, it expanded worldwide and immediately became the car of choice for eco-minded drivers. In 2012, Toyota changed the game again with an all-electric plug-in model. 

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Cadillac DeVille: 3.8 Million Sold

Everything about the Cadillac DeVille, which was first introduced in 1949, was designed to give consumers the most luxurious ride possible. Some early standard features included chrome trim, a leather interior and power windows (a rarity at the time). By the time it was discontinued in 2005, the DeVille had become one of Cadillac’s best-selling flagship models.

cadillac deville
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The DeVille embodied the best of Cadillac, combining luxury design with reliable performance that drivers could count on. The 1971 upgrade, the line’s fourth, increased the car’s interior width to a staggering 62”, the largest on the market. Later models introduced sophisticated color palettes and upgraded mechanics like front wheel drive. 

Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter: 12 Million Sold

Labeled with the factory designation “Type 2” to designate it from VW’s first automobile, the Beetle, the instantly recognizable VW minibus (or as it became known in the ‘60s, ‘the hippie van’) paved the way for an entirely new category of automobile.

volkswagen type 2 transporter
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The minibus eventually became well-known as a personal passenger van, but what helped make it one of VW’s best-selling models of all time was the many factory variants it produced. There were Type 2 pickup trucks, flatbed trucks, camping vans and double door panel vans. Additionally, conversion kits were made available to modify Type 2’s in everything from ambulances to hearses.

Ford Mustang: 10 Million Sold

Ford Mustang is the best-selling sport coupe in the world. This year, Ford celebrated the 55th anniversary of the iconic muscle car. The Mustang was first unveiled by Henry Ford II at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964 – a day now affectionately celebrated each year as “National Mustang Day.” In 2018, the automaker celebrated its 10 millionth Mustang, the best-selling two-door sports car that has been in continuous production since it was first introduced.

ford mustang
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The Mustang is sold in 146 countries worldwide, and in 2018, Ford sold 113,066 Mustangs across the globe. Ford broke the mold when the first Mustang was released in 1964, one of the few mass-produced sports cars with a V8 engine. “Nothing says freedom, the wind in your hair and the joy of driving like Mustang,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s global markets president.

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Mercedes-Benz C-Class: 10 Million Sold

In November 1982, the Mercedes-Benz 190E was premiered. With a chassis codenamed W201, this was the first iteration of the C-Class and Mercedes’ answer to the BMW 3 Series. In May 1993, the first generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class, codenamed W202, was introduced as a replacement for the 190.

mercedes-benz c-class
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In 1994, development began on the W203, which was revealed in March 2000, and the third version of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class W204 debuted in 2007. The current generation of the C-class, the W205, launched in 2014 at the North American International Auto Show. It is the first to use the lighter aluminum and high-strength steel body. The C-Class, with a refreshed exterior for 2019, is among the Top 10 best-selling luxury small cars, with more than 60,000 sold in the U.S. in 2018.

Toyota Camry: 10 Million Sold

For more than 15 years, the Toyota Camry has earned America’s popular vote as a top-selling car. In the US alone, Toyota sells 350,000 to 400,000 (or more) of its beloved car each year. While it may not be the most exciting sedan on the market, the Camry has always been a competent car with plenty of cabin space for a comfortable ride.

Toyota Camry
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The fuel-efficient family-class sedan has a reputation for flawless reliability and good resale value. The latest models of the Toyota Camry have been updated to add more character with upgrades to drivetrain, suspension, body style, interior comfort and convenience. Every new model Toyota Camry now includes a Wi-Fi hotspot and three-year subscription to Safety Connect for emergency and roadside assistance.

Volkswagen Jetta: 10 Million Sold

With more than 90,000 sold in 2018, the Volkswagen Jetta is the best-selling German car in the US and ranks fifth on the list of the most popular cars in America’s wealthiest zip codes. The Jetta was a 2019 Motor Trend “Car of the Year” contender, losing out to the Genesis G70. This year’s Jetta marks the beginning of the seventh generation of the popular car, Volkswagen’s alternative to the wildly successful Golf model.

volkswagen jetta
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Named for the Atlantic jet stream, the Jetta was first unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany in 1979. The second generation was unveiled in 1985 and was produced for eight years, making it the longest-running generation of the vehicle to-date. The seventh generation debuted in 2018, redesigned as a more tasteful, classy car with a premium look. 

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Chrysler Town and Country: 12 Million Sold

Since its release in 1990, the roomy Chrysler Town and Country ranked among the most popular minivans sold in the U.S. and worldwide – more than 12 million minivans in Chrysler’s group of minivans around the globe. The Town and Country was replaced in 2017 by the Chrysler Pacifica. Even though it’s no longer in production, the Town and Country remains popular among car buyers looking for a used vehicle.

chrysler town and country
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Chrysler is known for innovation in minivan seating, first rolling out second row “captain’s chairs” or “bucket seats” for the 1991 model year as a substitute to the bench seat. The same year, integrated child booster seats in the second row bench were also introduced and were available as an option through all consecutive generations. In 2005, the popular “Stow ‘n Go” seating system was released, allowing second- and third-row seating to fold completely into floor compartments, drastically increasing maximum cargo space to more than 160 cubic feet.

Ford Focus: 13 Million Sold

The Ford Focus was first introduced in Europe in 1998 and came to America in 2000. Over its 20 year history, the compact car has evolved from a fuel-efficient, budget-friendly vehicle to a more robust hatchback with 350 horsepower. The sleek revamped 2019 model, which was uncovered in Germany and isn’t yet available in the U.S., has an updated exterior and modern interior.

ford focus
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It may be topped by other small cars in the US, but worldwide, the Ford Focus was the best-selling car on the planet for two years (2013 and 2014), selling more than one million cars per year at the time. In 2013, Ford sold more than two Focuses every minute of every day. Explosive demand for the compact car in countries like China is a testament to Ford’s global strategy. Ideally, Ford looks to consolidate the number of the automaker’s vehicle platforms from 27 to 15, building a handful of cars that sell in large numbers across the globe.

BMW 3 Series: 14 Million Sold

The first BMW 3 Series was introduced to the world at Munich’s Olympic Stadium in 1975. Unmatched in its dynamic performance, the BMW 3 Series was designed as the two-door successor to the legendary BMW 02 Series. The first generation included an innovation that would become standard in all BMW models: a dashboard angled toward the driver.

bmw 3 series
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The fourth generation, built from 1997 to 2006, is the top-selling BMW model of all time, with over three million units sold. The 2019 BMW 3 Series, marking the start of the seventh generation of the popular sedan, is ranked No. 12 in Luxury Small Cars by U.S. News. Known as a “driver’s car,” the fully redesigned 2019 sedan includes a more powerful base engine, improved handling and more interior space.

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Ford Fiesta: 16 Million Sold

The supermini Ford Fiesta has been in production since 1976, although there was a gap in North American salesa between 1980 and 2008. Since 1976, more than 16 million Fiesta models have been sold worldwide, making it one of the best-selling Fords behind the Escort and the F-Series.

ford fiesta
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The seventh generation of the Fiesta, the Mark 7, was introduced in 2012 as the most technologically advanced version. The 2019 Fiesta includes voice-activated technology, is compatible with Alexa and has plenty of comfortable seating for up to five people. Due to the rising popularity of SUVs and trucks, the Ford Fiesta has been discontinued in U.S. markets. 

Chevy Silverado: 12 Million Sold

Chevrolet produced its first pickup truck in the 1930s, but it wasn’t until 1999 that the classic Chevy Silverado was introduced. The name Silverado first appeared on the trim in 1975, but became a stand-alone model with the GMT800 for a more muscular take on previous generations of Chevrolet trucks. The Chevy Silverado introduced innovations like a powerful V8 engine and convenient driver message center.

chevy silverado
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The award-winning second generation Silverado, released in 2007, included improvements in aerodynamics and was named 2007 North American Truck of the year. The third generation Chevy Silverado was released in 2014 along with the upmarket High Country edition, Chevrolet’s first in the luxury market. Since its release in 1998, nearly 12 million Chevy Silverados have been sold worldwide. 

Ford Taurus: 2.9 Million Sold

Ford Motor Company first presented the Taurus to world markets in 1986, and it has remained a staple in the Ford lineup ever since. In 2006, Ford began its final year of production of the Taurus, which was available until 2007 (only as a fleet or commercial vehicle). Known for its curved shape and oval details in the 1990s, Ford’s flagship sedan was given a second life when it replaced the Ford Five Hundred nameplate in 2008 and returned to the retail market.

ford taurus
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Six generations of the Ford Taurus have been produced for U.S. and world markets, including the most recent Taurus SE, SEL, Limited and SHO. Since its inception 20 years ago, nearly three million Ford Taurus units have been sold in the United States.

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