The Fiat 127 was the European best-seller from 1973 to 1978.
* The direct links to 46 Historical Data articles are below! *
FURTHER UPDATE - Thanks to the great work of Chris and Flavio, today I am able to add no less than 11 years of data for Europe, bringing the cover of the continent on BestSellingCarsBlog to the last 40 years. There is now a podium ranking available all the way up to 1972! We learn that 1972 was the last year of reign for the VW Beetle before the Fiat 127 took the relay in 1973 when Fiat even managed to place two models atop the ranking with the 128 at #2!
I estimate the Renault 5 to have been #1 in Europe from 1979 to 1982.
The 127 would top the European sales charts for 6 consecutive years before being toppled by the Renault 5 in 1979. The French mini in all likeliness remained #1 until the VW Golf took charge in 1983 after making a first appearance on the European podium as early as 1976… The Ford Escort (in 1975) and Taunus (in 1977) both peaked at an outstanding 2nd place.
The VW Golf was the best-selling model in Europe during 25 of the last 30 years.
From 1983 onwards (exactly 30 years), the VW Golf went on to be the best selling model on the continent for no less than 25 years, with only four other models holding the pole position at year-end: the Fiat Punto in 1997, Peugeot 206 in 2003, Opel Astra in 2005 and 2006 and Peugeot 207 in 2007.
Launched in 1991, the Opel Astra had to wait for its 3rd generation to be #1 in Europe in 2005
If you go into the monthly detail, then a few more cars managed to lead the European market for that amount of time: the Renault Megane, Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Renault Clio and Opel Corsa all ranked #1 at some stage over the last 20 years.
Peugeot is the only carmaker to place 2 models at #1 in Europe in the last 10 years: the 206 (2003) and 207 (2007).
Thanks to Florian and STAC I have updated most of my European Historical Data articles with a lot more detail. From 1992 to 1996 there is at least a Top 30 models ranking available (used to be Top 10 only) and from 1999 onwards you can check out the sales of every single model sold in Europe for each year! There is also every Monthly Top 10 from 1996 to 1999 and from July 2005 onwards, so you can see the complete evolution of the market over the years.
At this stage I do not have any detailed ranking for 1980-1988 I just know the VW Golf was in the pole position from 1983 onwards. And before 1972 I have nothing at all, so if you happen to have access to more European models sales data, please make sure to get in touch by commenting on this post!
Europe Historical Data
Europe 1972: VW Beetle and two Fiats on top
Europe 1973: Fiat monopolises Top 2 spots with 127 and 128!
Europe 1974: Fiat 127 at highest, Renault 5 up to #2
Europe 1975: Fiat 127 and Ford Escort on top
Europe 1976: Fiat 127 leads, VW Golf on podium for the first time
Europe 1977: Fiat 127 and Ford Taunus dominate
Europe 1978: VW Golf threatens Fiat 127 for top spot!
Europe 1979: Renault 5 new best-seller
Europe 1980-1982: Renault 5 most probable leader
Europe 1983-1987: Second generation VW Golf takes the lead
Europe 1984: VW Golf ahead of Ford Escort and Fiat Uno
Europe 1988: VW Golf and Fiat Uno on top
Europe 1989: VW Golf and Opel Kadett dominate
Europe 1990: VW Golf, Opel Kadett and Fiat Uno on podium
Europe 1991: VW Golf leads, Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio follow
Europe 1992: New gen VW Golf and Opel Astra on top
Europe 1993-1994: VW Golf stays on top, Opel Astra #2
Europe 1995: Fiat Punto interrupts 154 months of VW Golf domination
Europe 1996: VW Golf resists Fiat Punto assault
Europe 1997: Fiat Punto crowned for the first time
Europe 1998: VW Golf, Renault Megane and Fiat Punto lead
Europe 1999: Opel Astra a serious threat to VW Golf
Europe 2000: VW Golf and Fiat Punto in the lead
Europe 2001: VW Golf, Peugeot 206 and Fiat Punto on podium
Europe 2002: VW Golf only 500 units above the Peugeot 206
Europe 2003: Peugeot 206 most popular, VW Golf down to #2
Europe 2004: VW Golf, Peugeot 206 and 307 on podium
Europe 2005: VW Golf keeps Opel Astra at bay, or does it?
Europe 2006: Opel Astra triumphs, Ford Focus and Renault Clio close behind
Europe 2007: Peugeot 207 edges VW Golf out
Europe 2008: VW Golf defies the GFC
Europe 2009: VW Golf and Ford Fiesta dominate
Europe 2010: VW Golf leader ahead of Ford Fiesta and VW Polo
Europe 2010: Top 371 All models ranking now available!
Europe 2011: VW Polo up to second spot for the first time
Europe 2011: Top 318 All models ranking now available!
Europe 2012: Nissan Qashqai in Top 10 for the first time
Europe 2012: Top 350 All-models and Top 60 All-brands ranking now available
Europe 2013: VW Golf leads, Renault Clio on podium for the first time in 7 years
Europe Light Commercial Vehicles Historical Data
Europe Light Commercial Vehicles 2004-2005: Ford Transit reigns
Central & Eastern Europe Historical Data
Central Europe 2002-2003: Skoda Fabia above 100,000 sales
Central Europe 2004: Skoda Fabia, Octavia and Peugeot 206 on podium
Central & Eastern Europe 2005-2007: Dacia Logan reigns
Central & Eastern Europe 2008: Dacia Logan resists Skoda assault
Central & Eastern Europe 2009: Skoda Octavia new favourite
Central and Eastern Europe 2010: Skoda Octavia strengthens lead