Argentina 1969-1970: Fiat 600 sovereign

Fiat 600

* Many thanks to Bruno for making this post possible! *

Launched in 1960, the Fiat 600 is met with amazing success in Argentina, even being the best-selling car in the country in 1969 and 1970. It would be produced to a massive 300,000 units over its 22 year career, staying in production until 1982.


Peugeot 504

1969 was a fertile year in Argentina: the Peugeot 504 launched its production that year and it has become the most popular car in Argentina’s history, with 496,693 units produced between 1969 and 1999, just above the Ford Falcon at 494,208 units.

Germany 1967-1970: VW Beetle and Opel Kadett on top

VW Beetle

* See ‘Read more’ for the 1967-1970 Rankings – many thanks to Florian for the data! *

Car sales in Germany drop by 10% in 1967 at 1,356,655 registrations before gaining 5% in 1968 (1,425,089) and a massive 29% in 1969 (1,841,048). The VW Beetle celebrates 20 years in German pole position in 68 and gets back above 300,000 sales the year after at 332,612 units in 69 and 328,715 in 70.

Opel Kadett

The Opel Kadett should rank 2nd all through the period, selling 159,907 units in 69, while the Opel Rekord, Ford 12M/15M, VW 1600, Ford 17M/20M and Capri (76,443 sales in 69) also shine.

Renault 4

Notice the Renault 4 up to a fantastic 84,900 sales in 1970, its best-ever in the country, meaning it probably ranks within the Top 5 that year – the best-ever ranking for a foreign model in Germany since the 40s. The Ford Escort launches in 68 but starts slow, only reaching 40,027 sales in 70.

1967-1970 Ranking Tables below.

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USA 1960-1970: Chevrolet Impala breaks records

1965 Chevrolet Impala

I only have patchy data for this period in the US so if you have access to detailed figures please make sure to get in touch!

From 1960 to 1970, one model dominated car sales in America: the Chevrolet Impala. In 1965 the Impala sold 1,074,925 units, still to this date the highest annual sales volume ever achieved by a single model in the US (Ford Model T figures were production not sales). In fact no other model has managed to sell over 1 million units in a year, and the Impala did it twice, passing the million benchmark again in 1966.

1966 Ford Mustang

Other very successful models of the period include the Ford Mustang, peaking at 550,000 sales in 1966…

VW Beetle USA 1968VW Beetle

…and the VW Beetle reaching almost 300,000 units in 1960 and peaking at 423,008 in 1968. A total of 5.5 million Beetles were sold in the US over 60 years.

Please get in touch if you have more info!

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Next post: USA 1972: Chevrolet Vega threatens VW Beetle

Norway 1970: Last year at #1 for the Beetle, the Japanese land

VW Beetle

* See the Top 10 best-selling models by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Rene *

After a one-off stratospheric figure in 1969 the Norwegian car market is back to normal this year, down 29% to 70,226 registrations. The VW Beetle is the best-selling model in the country for the 12th consecutive year and for the 13th time in the last 15 years but it is the last one: its sales fall by 64% this year to 6,091 and its market share halves to 8.7%.

Opel Kadett

In the meantime the Opel Kadett climbs onto a best-ever 2nd spot at 4,890 units and 7%. Up 2 spots on 1969 and down just 6% year-on-year, the Volvo 140 Series rounds up the podium with 4,617 sales and 6.6%. After 5 years in a row in 2nd place, the Ford Cortina falls to #4 and is followed by the Opel Rekord/Caravan and the Ford Escort.

Datsun Sunny

But the big event in Norway this year is the arrival en masse of Japanese models in the Top 10 for the first time ever! The Datsun Sunny/1200/120Y lands directly in 8th position with 1,901 sales and 2.7% and is followed by the Mazda 1200/1300 at 1,672 units and 2.4% and the Mazda 1500/1600/1800 with 1,559 sales and 2.2%. This is the start of a long love story between Norwegian consumers and Japanese brands…

Previous post: Norway 1968-1969: Beetle, Cortina and Kadett on podium

Next post: Norway 1971: Volvo 140 takes the lead

Full Year 1970 Top 10 Ranking Table below.

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Brazil 1966-1969: VW Fusca and Kombi dominate

The VW Fusca continues to dominate Brazilian car sales and production, constantly progressing over the period to reach a 48% share of all production in 1967, 53% in 1968 when it passes the 100,000 units for the first time at 123,089 and 47% in 1969.

The VW Kombi, in production since the mid-fifties, takes the second spot each year from 1966 to 1968, dropping to 3rd in 1969 with the arrival of the Ford Corcel. The Ford Rural also fares strongly, climbing onto the podium in 1967 and 68.

Full Top 15 Ranking Tables for 1966, 67, 68 and 69 below.

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Sweden 1968-1969: Volvo 140 Series on top

1969 Volvo 142

* Many thanks to Torbjörn for making this update possible! *

I only have official sales data for the best-selling model in Sweden over the period: the Volvo 140 Series, taking the relay from the Volvo Amazon. Launched in 1967, the Volvo 140 grabbed the pole position in 1968 and kept it for 7 consecutive years.

1,251,374 units of the Volvo 140 were produced over 9 years, a very high number for that time and a record for Volvo then. Meanwhile, Saab’s star model during the period was the ‘old’ 96, produced at 550,000 units between 1960 and 1980.

More info on the Volvo 140 Series here and on the Saab 96 here.

Previous post: Sweden 1966-1967: Volvo Amazon at end of reign, Saab 96 #2

1967-1972 Volvo 140 Swedish sales figures: see ‘Read more’ below the Saab 96 pic.

Saab 96

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Italy 1969: Fiat 500, 850 and 124 on podium

Fiat 500

* See the Top 30 best-selling models by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Andrea *

Over the first 5 months of 1969, the Fiat 500 is by far the best-selling car in Italy with 161,710 sales. It is followed by the Fiat 850 at 97,187 units, the Fiat 124 with 51,807 sales and the Alfa Romeo Giulia at 26,128 units.

Fiat 124

Italian manufacturer Innocenti sells the English Mini in Italy under its own brand and this model takes the 5th place with 24,145 units sold over the period, ahead of the Fiat 125 at 19,702 sales. The NSU Prinz is the best-selling foreign model at #7.

Autobianchi Bianchina

Autobianchi Primula

Notice the Autobianchi Bianchina at #8 and the Autobianchi Primula at #19. The Fiat 600 is already down to #13, while the Fiat 128 appears for the first time in the Italian ranking at #15. The Citroen DS/ID ranks 19th.

Thanks to the UNRAE team, I can now also share with you a Top 20 brands ranking for 1969 (click on ‘Read more’ to see it).

Previous post: Italy 1964-1968: Fiat 500 takes the relay

Next post: Italy 1970-1971: Fiat 500 leads, Fiat 128 up to 2nd place

Full 5 months 1969 Top 30 Ranking Table below.

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Norway 1968-1969: Beetle, Cortina and Kadett on podium

The 100,000th VW Beetle sold in Norway

* See the Top 10 best-selling models by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Rene *

While in 1968 the Norwegian car market gains only 0.1% to 65,229 registrations, in 1969 it shoots up by a huge 51% to 98,529 units! It will go back down to around 70,000 units the following year so it is fair to assume that ’69 figures must have been influenced by a major legislation change like a tax hike put in place on January 1, 1970. If you have any more info about this please get in touch by commenting on this article.

The VW Beetle keeps a comfortable lead in both years, selling 11,309 units at 17.3% in ’68 and 16,699 at 17.2% in ’69, both figures being by far the highest annual sales figures ever delivered by any model in Norway so far. In fact the podium stays unchanged over the period: the Ford Cortina is #2 with 8.4% then 7% and the Opel Kadett is #3 with 6.8% then 6.1%. The Ford Escort appears for the first time in the Norwegian Top 10 in ’68 at #7 and ranks #6 in ’69.

Previous post: Norway 1965-1967: Beetle, Ford Cortina and Volvo Amazon shine

Next post: Norway 1970: Last year at #1 for the VW Beetle, the Japanese land

Full Year 1968 and 1969 Top 10 Ranking Tables below.

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Australia 1958-1968: Toyota and Japan’s first export market

Assembly of the Toyota Corona in Australia started in January 1966

* Click on the title for many more vintage pictures! *

When Japanese car manufacturers were ready to explore the world, their first choice for export destination wasn’t in Asia. It was Australia. As early as August 1958, the first Japanese light car to reach Australian shores since World War 2 was a Datsun. By 1968, a dozen Japanese brands were established in the country.

Some of Wheels covers featuring Japanese models 1958-1968 (click on image to enlarge)

Between June 1965 and August 1967, the cover of Wheels magazine would feature a Japanese model no less than 9 times! The first model to have that honour was the Daihatsu Berlina in June ’65, followed by the Hino Contessa, Toyota 2000GT, Toyota Corona, Datsun Cedric, Mazda 1000, Mazda 1500, Toyota Corolla, Datsun 1600 SSS and the tiny Honda Scamp in July 1968.

1958 Datsun, the first Japanese car to land in Australia after World War 2

Japanese manufacturers used Australia as a trial export market before spreading to the US and Europe, and it worked very well for them. In those ten years they managed a perfect landing in Australia, a very significant event in a market that was then dominated by US and English brands. It was the start of a complete reshuffle of the Australian car landscape that would result, 50 years later, in Toyota leading the way by far among many other very successful brands.

1967 Toyota Corolla 

Very quickly after exporting their first models to Australia, some Japanese manufacturers switched to local assembly. Toyota was the first one, with the Corona being assembled in Melbourne as early as January 1966, followed by the Crown that same year and the Corolla in 1968, only one year after its Japanese launch. This makes Australia the first overseas country to ever assemble the Corolla!  

1961 Datsun Cedric

The other manufacturer to opt for local assembly very fast is Datsun with the 1600 in 1967 and the 1000 in 1968. If the very first ‘Toyopet”, Datsun and Daihatsus didn’t impress with their quality, by the mid-sixties most Japanese cars were rather well rated by the press, with the bigger models like the Toyota Crown accepted as true threats for the class-leading Holdens and Ford Falcons…

1966 Isuzu Bellett

To understand the importance of Australia in Japan and Toyota’s export strategy, a few figures are telling: in 1965, Toyota sold 17,300 vehicles in Australia, up 52% on 1964 and by far its strongest export market. This is to be compared with 8,900 units in the USA (+141%), 6,600 in South Africa (+16%), 3,700 in Thailand (+140%) and 3,000 in Canada where it was Toyota’s first year. In Europe, Denmark, Finland (2,800 each) and the Netherlands (1,500) are Toyota’s strongest markets in 1965.

1965 Hino Contessa

Most Japanese manufacturers were busy creating vehicles in all categories at that time and it’s interesting to notice Isuzu doing very well in the passenger car segment (one that it has all but abandoned these days) with the Bellett and Florian. Similarly, Hino, now a heavy truck specialist, had the Contessa, loosely based on the Renault 8.

See the general article about Australia 1960-1968 here

Previous post: Australia 1949-1959: Holden ‘Australia’s own’ launches

Next post: Australia 1969-1976: Ford catches up on Holden, a Datsun on the podium

Many more vintage pictures below.

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Australia 1960-1968: Ford unveils Falcon to challenge Holden

1960 Holden and Ford Falcon

After allowing Holden to be the only ‘true’ Australian car for 12 long years, Ford launched the Falcon in November 1960 and proposed an Australian-built alternative to the Holden sold in the country since 1948. The Falcon nameplate will end up being by far Ford’s most popular in Australia.

Unfortunately for Ford, the first generations of Falcon had reliability issues, and as a result, Holden keeps the lead by far in the Australian market with over 10,000 units sold per month throughout the sixties. In 1961, Holden holds 50% of the total market, with Ford #2 at 17% and Volkswagen (thanks to the Beetle) and BMC (thanks to the Mini) both at 8%.

VW Beetle and BMC Mini Cooper

In July 1963, the strongest ever month for the Australia market so far at 29,644 registrations, Holden is still the runaway leader with 46.9% of the market, ahead of Ford at 14.9% (including 10.6% for the Falcon), BMC boosted by the Mini at 12.2%, VW weaker due to the ageing Beetle at 7.1% and Chrysler revitalised by the Valiant at 6.2%.

1961 Chrysler Valiant

1963 Ford Fairlane

1962 Holden 

Holden reacts in 1962 with the EJ then the EH in 1963 which would achieve the highest production rates in Holden’s history: 13,524 per month. Both Holden and Ford Falcon opt for more rectangular fronts in the second half of the decade…

1966 Holden

The Falcon sees its monthly production go from 3,920 for the 1964 XM to 6,223 for the 1969 XW. Holden is still far ahead however, between 11,000 and 12.000 monthly units were produced during that period.

1968 Ford Falcon

This period is also the time Japanese brands landed (successfully) in Australia. See the article about this change here:

Australia 1958-1968: Toyota and Japan’s first export market

Previous post: Australia 1949-1959: Holden ‘Australia’s own’ launches

Next post: Australia 1969-1976: Ford catches up on Holden, a Datsun on the podium

MANY more vintage pictures, sales data and Holden/Falcon production figures below.

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