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Europe 1978: VW Golf threatens Fiat 128 for top spot!

Fiat 127 advertising

* See the Top 3 best-selling models by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Flavio *

1978 marks the 6th consecutive year the Fiat 127 dominates the sales charts in Europe thanks to 409,000 units, making it the most popular Fiat ever in Europe, given as far as I know the Uno never managed to rank #1 and the Punto only did so once, in 1997. The only other candidates could be the Fiat 500 and 600 in the sixties, depending on how they fared against the Volkswagen Beetle. However this year the battle was intense: the VW Golf is only a few thousands units behind whole the Renault 5 is also very close at #3.

Full Year 1978 Top 3 models Ranking Table below.

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World 1975-1978: Toyota Corolla in the lead

1975 Toyota Corolla

After becoming the world’s best-seller for the first time in 1974, the Toyota Corolla keeps this title for 4 consecutive years up until 1978, while the VW Beetle continues to drop and the VW Golf, launched in 1974, climbs up the ladder. Thanks to Rene for confirming this information, if you have detailed sales figures for the period please do get in touch by commenting on this article!

Originally launched in 1966, the Toyota Corolla nameplate is already at its third generation by 1975, and is encountering exceptional success both in Japan and in export markets, notably in the USA. By 1979, Australian advertising officially promotes the Corolla as “the best-selling car in the world”.

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Next post: World 1979: VW Golf passes Toyota Corolla to claim top spot

Argentina 1976-1978: First years of Renault 12 reign

Renault 12 Argentina 1971. Picture courtesy of

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

Launched in 1971, the Renault 12 will have to wait until 1976 to grab the title of most popular vehicle in Argentina. It then holds onto its pole position for 3 consecutive years: in 1977 and 1978, on the way to top the Argentinean ranking for a total of 9 years, the last one being 1988.

USA 1978: Chevrolet Impala/Caprice #1, Ford Fairmont best-selling new car ever introduced

Chevrolet Caprice

* Click on the title for the Top 10 best-selling models – Thanks Adam/Paul for the data *

Second year of reign for the Chevrolet Impala/Caprice, still at a very high level with 621,140 sales, down just 5%. The Oldsmobile Cutlass/Supreme drops by 23% and keeps the 2nd place, but just: at 406,993 units, it is only 1,200 sales above the Ford Fairmont. The Fairmont earns the title of ‘best-selling new car ever introduced’ thanks 405,780 sales, landing directly in third position and peaking at an outstanding 44.592 units sold in September.

The Chevrolet Malibu is up 5 spots and 26% to #4 at 374,124 units, while the Chevrolet Monte Carlo is down 3% to #5 and the Ford LTD down 13% to #6. The other two newbies in the Top 10 are the Oldsmobile 88 at #9 with 273,384 sales and the Chevrolet Camaro at #10 and 260,201 units.

Previous post: USA 1977 Chevrolet Impala/Caprice takes the lead, Ford F-Series now best-selling truck

Next post: USA 1979 Chevrolet places Impala/Caprice and Chevette on podium

Full Year 1978 and each monthly Top 10 Ranking Tables below.

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France 1977-1978: Renault 5 stays on top, Peugeot 104 strong

Renault 5

No change atop the French models ranking: the Renault 5 confirms its domination: it holds 10.1% of the market in 1977 and 10% in 1978. I don’t have any detailed sales ranking for these years in France so if you do please make sure to get in touch by commenting on this post.

Peugeot 104

Other successful models over the period include the Peugeot 104 at 6.3% in 1977 and 5.9% in 1978, the Citroen 2CV at 5.2% then 4.1% and the Renault 4 at 4.7% and 4.1%.

1977 and 1978 sales figures below.

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Netherlands 1975-1978: Opel Kadett top of the class

Opel Kadett

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

* See the Top 20 best-selling models by clicking on this article’s title or ‘Read more’! *

Throughout the period the Opel Kadett is top of the class, reaching 28,393 sales for a 5.9% market share in 1975 and totalling 22,285 units over the first 6 months of 1978. The Kadett is the only element of stability in a ranking that changed drastically between 1975 and 1978.

Simca 1100

In 1975 the Simca 1100 takes the 2nd spot with 23,561 sales and 4.9%, followed by the VW Golf at 19,576 units and 4.1%, the Toyota Corolla with 17,934 sales and 3.7% and the Citroen 2CV/Dyane at 15,738 units and 3.3%. Notice also the Datsun Cherry at #11, the Mini at #12, the Datsun 120Y at #15 and the local DAF 44/46 at #16 with 8,251 sales and 1.7%.

Peugeot 504

In 1978 the Ford Taunus ranks 2nd with 18,799 sales, ahead of the Opel Ascona at 14,586 units, the VW Golf at 12,654 sales and the Peugeot 504 at 11,019 units. The Citroen GS lodges a brilliant 6th place with 9,859 sales while the Mazda 323 is the best-selling Japanese model at #7 and 9,693 units.

Full Year 1975 Top 20 and 6 months 1978 Top 10 Ranking Tables below.

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Italy 1977-1978: Fiat 127 still on top, Fiat Ritmo lands

Fiat 127 Sport Italy 1978Fiat 127 Sport

* See the Top 20 brands and most produced models by clicking on the title! *

Not much official models sales data available for this period in Italy, only that the Fiat 127 continues to lead the sales charts thanks to 237,600 sales, ahead of the Fiat 126 at 174,000 and the Fiat 128 at 93,000. However thanks to the UNRAE team, brands sales and models production data is available.

Alfa Romeo Alfasud L Italy 1977Alfa Romeo Alfasud

Notice the Fiat 131 up to #2 most produced in 1978 with 204,962 units, the Fiat Ritmo landing directly at #5 with 108,411 units and the Alfa Romeo Alfasud above 100,000 units that same year. Brand-wise, thanks to the success of the Renault 5, Renault stays very strong at 8% share in 1976, 1977 and 1978, peaking at 97,004 sales in 1978 which was at the time the highest annual volume ever for any foreign brand in Italy.

Previous post: Italy 1976: Renault 5 breaks into Top 5

Next post: Italy 1979: Fiat 127 and 126 dominate

Full Year 1977 and 1978 Top 20 brands and most produced models below.

Italy 1977 – most produced models:

1Fiat 127333,79523.2%1
2Fiat 128237,49116.5%2
3Fiat 126205,15214.2%4
4Fiat 131166,87111.6%3
5Alfa Romeo Alfasud98,2936.8%5
6Alfa Romeo Alfetta73,5735.1%7
7Fiat 13272,6785.0%9
8Autobianchi A11269,9744.9%6
9Lancia Beta56,4633.9%8
10Innocenti Mini38,1202.6%n/a
11Fiat X1/918,4501.3%11
12Fiat 12414,0081.0%12
13Alfa Romeo Giulia11,6880.8%10
14Lancia Coupe8,4690.6%n/a
15Alfa Romeo Giulietta7,3900.5%n/a
16Alfa Romeo 13007,2810.5%n/a
17Fiat 9006,2430.4%18
18Lancia Gamma4,0120.3%19
19Alfa Romeo 20003,5660.2%15
20Autobianchi Bianchina2,7300.2%13

Italy 1977 – brands:

3Alfa Romeo80,3046.6%3
12Nuova Innocenti20,8241.7%12

Italy 1978 – most produced models:

1Fiat 127361,28623.9%1
2Fiat 131204,96213.6%4
3Fiat 126167,53511.1%3
4Fiat 128135,0128.9%2
5Fiat Ritmo108,4117.2% –
6Alfa Romeo Alfasud105,9537.0%5
7Fiat 13293,3896.2%7
8Autobianchi A11289,4365.9%8
9Alfa Romeo Giulietta58,0663.8%15
10Alfa Romeo Alfetta51,5043.4%6
11Lancia Beta42,8002.8%9
12Innocenti Mini40,7192.7%10
13Fiat X1/919,2401.3%11
14Fiat 12416,0791.1%12
15Lancia Gamma6,3990.4%18
16Fiat 9004,4480.3%17
17Lancia Coupe3,2630.2%14
18Fiat Campagnola2,8440.2%21

Italy 1978 brands:

3Alfa Romeo87,0377.3%3
10Nuova Innocenti27,9842.3%12

Source: ANFIA, many thanks to the UNRAE team for opening up your archives!

Norway 1977-1978: Volvo 240 and Ford Granada most popular

Volvo 244

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

Only two years after passing the 100,000 annual registrations milestone, Norwegian car sales reach 145,247 units in 1977, 14% better than in 1976. However 1978 sees the worst sales setback since World War II: down 46% to 77,821 units, bringing the market back to 1970 levels. In this context the Volvo 240 is undisturbed and continues to dominate the models ranking with 10,226 sales and 7% share in ’77 then 6,927 and 8.9% in ’78.

Ford Granada

There is a newcomer on the podium over the period: the Ford Granada establishes itself as a solid competitor for the Volvo 240, selling 8,853 units for a 6.1% market share in ’77 then 6,096 and 7.8% in ’78. The Ford Taunus holds a strong third position both years, reaching 5.7% share in ’77 and 5.4% in ’78.

Mazda 323

The Saab 99 ranks at a brilliant 4th place in 1977, the highest position ever reached by a Saab model in Norway, while the Toyota Corolla weakens over the period: down to #5 in ’77 and outside the Top 10 in ’78. It is replaced at the helm of Japanese models by the Mazda 323, breaking into the Norwegian Top 10 for the first time in 1978 at #8 with 2,165 sales and 2.8%.

Notice the VW Polo leading the brand’s sales at #10 in ’77 but outside the Top 10 the following year, making 1978 the first year since the creation of the Volkswagen brand ever that no model ranks within the Norwegian Top 10.

Previous post: Norway 1975-1976: Volvo 240 #1, Toyota Corolla on podium!

Next post: Norway 1980-1989: VW Golf and Ford Sierra dominate

Full Year 1977 and 1978 Top 10 Ranking Tables below.

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Sweden 1978: Volvo 240, Saab 99 and Volvo 340 on top

Volvo 245

* See ‘Read more’ for the Top 20 best-selling models!  Many thanks to Torbjörn for the data *

In 1978 just over 200,000 new cars were purchased in Sweden (200,874 exactly). The Volvo 240 leads the models ranking by a large margin with 37,564 sales for a massive 18.7% market share. The Saab 99 is in 2nd place at 18,613 units and 9.3%, followed by the Volvo 340 with 9,873 sales and 4.9%.

Saab 99

The VW Golf is the best-selling foreign model at #4 and 4.2%, ahead of the Ford Granada (3.8%) and Opel Rekord (3.4%). The Saab 95/96 ranks 9th with 2.8% of the Swedish market. Notice the arrival of the Saab 900 at #16 with 3,264 sales.

Full Year 1978 Top 20 Ranking Table below.

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