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Finland 1975-1978: Saab #1 brand for the first time, Lada 1200 most popular

Saab is the best-selling carmaker in Finland from 1975 to 1978….

* See the Top 60 All-brands and Top 50 models by clicking on the title *

In 1975, Finnish new car sales soar 21.7% to 116.991 registrations, and for the first time ever, a Swedish manufacturer takes the lead of the brands ranking: Saab, thanks to deliveries up 46% to 13% share, a performance it has never managed at home in Sweden. This victory albeit comes only 155 sales above last year’s leader, Fiat (+26%). Datsun (+26%) posts its first ever podium finish in Finland, becoming the second Japanese manufacturer to do so after Toyota (first in 1970). Ford (+3%) drops two spots to #4 while Toyota (+10%) drops one to #5. Lada (+30%) remains at #6 ahead of Opel (+51%) while Volkswagen (-29%) continues its descent to hell. Notice also Mazda up 61% to a best-ever #11 and Wartburg (+150%) reborn at #16.

Model-wise, the Lada 1200 widens the gap with its followers thanks to sales up 30% to 8.6% share, now followed by the Saab 96 (+62%) and the Datsun 100A. The Toyota Corolla (+25%) is down two spots to #4, with the Saab 99 (+28%) rounding up the Top 5 ahead of the Fiat 127 (+15%), Ford Taunus (+20%) and Opel Kadett (+69%). The Volvo 242-265 surges 284% to break into the Top 10, the Wartburg W353 lands directly at #19 while the VW Golf is up 77% but remains at a low 16th place just as the Beetle drops 71% to #24. Notice also the Austin Allegro (#27) and Mazda Marella (#29) both landing directly inside the Top 30.

…while the Lada 1200 remains the most popular nameplate over the period.

In 1976, the Finland market is back down 20.9% to 92.531 units. Saab (-15%) falls slower to improve its share to 13.9% and retain the lead, with Ford (-10%) gaining two spots to #2, Datsun (-14%) remaining at #3 and Lada (-18%) up two ranks to #4. Toyota (-23%) stays 5th but Fiat (-48%) tumbles down four spots to #6. Wartburg (+56%) delivers the largest year-on-year gain in the Top 15 and is back inside the Top 10 at #9. Notice also BMW (+57%) and Simca (+27%) in great shape while both Mitsubishi (#25) and Honda (#26) take off.

In the models ranking, the Lada 1200 celebrates three consecutive years on top, improving its share to 8.9% thanks to sales down “just” 18%. The Datsun 100A (-12%) climbs up to #2, the highest annual position ever reached by a Datsun in Finland. It dislodges the Saab 96 (-16%) while the Toyota Corolla (-17%) remains in 4th place. The Ford Taunus (-4%) is up two ranks to #5, ahead of the Saab 99 (-12%), Opel Kadett (-9%) and Fiat 127 (-51%) freefalling. The Wartburg W353 is up 56% and 8 spots to #11, and we welcome the Mercedes W123 (#13), VW Polo (#18), Datsun 120A (#23) and Mazda 818 (#26) in the Top 30 this year whereas the VW Golf (-71%) implodes to #29.

The Datsun 100A ranks #2 in Finland in 1976.

1977 sales slow down their fall at -2.7% to 90.072. Saab (-13%) is the most popular carmaker in the country for the third straight year but drops faster than the market, resulting in a reduced 12.4% share. That’s still a comfortable 2.2 percentage points above Fiat (+18%) black up four spots to #2. Ford (-10%) and Datsun (-12%) are knocked down to #3 and #4 respectively, while Lada (-4%) is down one to #5 and Opel (-10%) up one to #6. Toyota (-19%) is in difficulty at #7,  with Mazda (+47%) breaking into the Finnish annual Top 10 for the first time at #10. Honda (+160%) and Mitsubishi (+108%) are now both inside the Top 20, meaning we have five Japanese carmakers in the Finnish Top 20 in 1977, the most ever.

Model-wise, the Lada 1200 continues to dominate and follows the market at -4%, with the Saab 96 (-9%) reclaiming the 2nd post off the Datsun 100A (-19%) and the Toyota Corolla (-21%), Ford Taunus (-18%), Saab 99 (-16%), Opel Kadett (-16%) and Fiat 127 (+34) all camping on their 1976 positions. The Fiat 127 and 128 (+46%) easily post the largest gains in the Top 15. We welcome the Mazda 323 directly at #16, the Volvo 343-345 at #20 and the Mitsubishi Lancer at #38. The Ford Fiesta (+164%) breaks into the Top 20 and the VW Golf rallies back up 62% to #22.

Wartburg is back among the Top 10 brands in 1976 and 1978.

1978 marks another steep decline for Finnish car sales at -10.8% to 80.378 units. Saab (-8%) is the most popular marque for the 4th consecutive year at 12.8% share, distancing Fiat (-9%), Datsun (-3%), Lada (+2%) both overtaking Ford (-24%). Volvo soars 39% to land at a record 6th place, outpacing Opel (-15%) and Toyota (-14%) with Volkswagen (-6%) and Wartburg (-12%) rounding up the Top 10. Mazda (-58%) implodes and falls bad to #15 whereas Honda (-18%) gains one spot to #18.

Over in the models aisle, it’s a 5th annual win in a row for the Lada 1200 faring better than the market at -3% to a record 9.6% share. Saab monopolises the remainder of the podium, placing the 96 (-15%) at #2 and the 99 (-8%) at #3. The Datsun 100A (-31%) and Toyota Corolla (-24%) are knocked down one rank to #4 and #5 as a result, but the 120A (+190%) breaks into the Top 10 to make it two Datsuns there, as many as market leader Saab. The VW Derby (#28), Saab 900 (#35) and the legendary Lada Niva (#39) make their appearance in the Finnish ladder this year.

Previous year: Finland 1974: Lada 1200 new best-seller

Full Year 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978 Top 60 All-brands and Top 50 models below.

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