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France 1981: Renault 5 and 18 strong, Peugeot 104 on podium

Renault 5

* See the Top 20 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

The French car market is down 2% in 1981 at 1,834,322 registrations and the Renault 5 delivers its second best year, down only 6% on an exceptional figure in 1980 at 282,486 sales and 15.4% share. In 2nd place, the Renault 18 reaches its best-ever market share at 8.6% thanks to 157,752 units sold, stable on 1980.

Renault 18

Helped by its recent facelift, the Peugeot 104 passes its big sister the 305 to climb on the third step of the podium with 100,888 sales (+6%) and 5.5% share, compared to 97,219 (-16%) and 5.3% for the 305. Good progression of the Citroen Visa, up 3 spots and 26% to #5 at 82,544 units or 4.5% of the French market. The Citroen GSA reversely is down 16% to #6. Similarly the Renault 14 is down 24% to #7 and the Renault 4 down 22% to #8.

Peugeot 104

Foreign models have a very good year: the VW Golf is up 29% and breaks into the year-end Top 10 at #9 with 60,533 sales (3.3%), the Ford Escort is up a massive 57% and 5 spots to #12 at 44.024 units and the Ford Fiesta is up 4% to stay #16 with 31,183 sales. The Opel Kadett and Fiat Ritmo break into the Top 20 this year.

Citroen 2CV

Notice also the Citroen 2CV back in the Top 10 at #10 (-2%), the big Renault 20 (#11), Peugeot 505 (#13) and Citroen CX (#14) all within the Top 15, the Renault Fuego down 30% to #17 and the Talbot Solara up one spot to #18.

Previous year: France 1980: Renault 5 hits highest share at 16%.

Next year: France 1982: New Renault 9 shakes models ranking

Full Year 1981 Top 20 Ranking Table below.

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UK 1980-1981: Ford Cortina, Escort and Fiesta on top

Ford Cortina

* See the Top 15 best-selling models by clicking on ‘Read more’ at end of post! *

Helped by a facelift in 1979, the Ford Cortina leads the British car market in 1980 with 190,281 sales and in 1981 with 159,804. Ford monopolises the podium both years with the Escort #2 at 122,357 units then 141,081, and the Fiesta #3 with 91,661 sales in 1980 and 110,753 in 1981.

Ford Fiesta

Austin Metro

Launched in 1980 as the miniMetro to give the Mini a big brother, the Austin Metro ranks 4th for its first full year of sales in 1981 with 110,283 sales, better than any Mini year since 1965… The Morris Marina is replaced by the Ital over the period, #5 in 1981. The best selling foreign model is the Renault 18 in 1980 (#10) and the Datsun Cherry in 1981 at a fantastic 8th place, the highest rank ever for a Japanese model.

1980 and 1981 Top 15 Ranking Tables: see ‘Read more’ below the Datsun Cherry pic.

Datsun Cherry

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Finland 1981: Lada 2105 takes control, Datsun Cherry #2

Lada 2105

* See the Top 20 best-selling models by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Rene *

The start of the eighties in Finland is marked by a strong Russian influence, with the Lada 2105 the best-selling model in the country in 1981 with 9,322 sales. The Datsun Cherry is not far behind in second place at 8,803 units while the Fiat 127 rounds up the podium with 5,064 sales.

Talbot Horizon

There are 3 Japanese models in the Top 5 this year with the Toyota Corolla ranking #4 followed by the Datsun Sunny. Notice the Saab 99 at #8, the Talbot Horizon at #9 and the Volvo 240 at #10. Further down, the Skoda 105-120 ranks 13th, the Mazda 323 is #15 and the Talbot 1510/Solara is #16.

Previous post: Finland 1971: Fiat 600 & Toyota Corolla shine, Moskvitsh Elite #6

Next post: Finland 1991: Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sunny in the lead

Full Year 1981 Top 20 Ranking Table below.

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Brazil 1981: Fiat 147 takes the lead, Chevy Chevette strong

Fiat 147, Chevrolet Chevette and VW Gol

* Many thanks to Marcelo de Vasconcellos for the Quatro Rodas tip! *

In 1981 and for the first time in almost 30 years, the best selling car in Brazil in not a Volkswagen… The title goes to the Fiat 147, helped by this year’s facelift. Quatro Rodas releases production figures and these are very close to sales figures as the Brazilian market is practically closed.

84,666 units of the Fiat 147 were produced over 11 months in 1981, compared to 71,733 units of the VW Fusca. The Chevrolet Chevette is also very strong at 56,484 units in 3rd position, followed by the VW Passat at 51,779 and the Ford Corcel at 49,886. The VW Gol, launched in 1980 and future king of the Brazilian market, is for now at a shy 6th place with only 30,627 units produced.

Chevrolet Chevette

Full Top 20 Ranking Table and more on the VW Gol’s initial launch in Brazil below.

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USA 1981: Chevy Chevette leads, VW Rabbit up to #4!

VW Rabbit

* See the Top 10 best-selling models by clicking on the title! Thanks to Adam for the data *

The Chevrolet Chevette is the best-selling car in America this year with 346,307 units sold, down 7% on 1980. That would make the Chevette the last passenger car to dominate the models ranking in the USA. It is followed by the Chevrolet Citation, 1980’s #1, down 20% to 300,184 units.

Chevrolet Chevette

Excellent performance of the Ford Escort, landing directly in third position for its first full year of sales in the country with 284,907 units sold. But this year’s best performer is the VW Rabbit, up 59% and 6 spots on 1980 to a fantastic 4th place with 282,240 sales. Never before had an import reached such high levels in the US.

The Toyota Corolla is also on the up, to a best-ever 5th position, albeit with declining sales at 241,639 units (-6%). There are two other newcomers in the Top 10: the Buick Skylark at #8 with 200,350 sales and the Plymouth Reliant at #9 with 189,330 units.

Previous post: USA 1980: Oldsmobile Cutlass reigns Supreme, or Chevy Citation?

Next post: USA 1982-1985: Ford F-Series takes command

Full 1981 Top 10 Ranking Table below.

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Australia 1979-1981: Holden Commodore an instant hit

1978 Holden Commodore VB

* See the Commodore and Falcon production figures by clicking on the title! *

Holden launches the Commodore in November 1978 and installs the new nameplate at the #1 spot in the Australian market as soon as 1979. The Commodore will end up being Holden’s most popular nameplate by a country mile.

1979 Ford Falcon

Originally one full size smaller and less fuel-hungry than its competitor the Falcon, the Commodore rides on the 1979 energy crisis and stays best seller in Australia in 1980 and 1981 but will be passed by the Falcon in 1982.

Previous post: Australia 1977: Holden Kingswood and Ford Falcon dominate

Next post: Australia 1982-1986: Ford Falcon reigns

Commodore and Falcon production figures: click on ‘Read more’ below.

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Italy 1981: Fiat 127 and Ritmo neck-to-neck

Fiat 127

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

Italian consumers bought 1,739,282 new cars in 1981. The Fiat 127 is the best-selling model in the country but the fight with the Fiat Ritmo was intense. Only 0.7% market share separate the two models at year-end, with the 127 at 221,066 sales and 12.7% share compared to 208,713 and 12% for the Ritmo.

Fiat Ritmo

For its first full year of sales, the Fiat Panda brilliantly takes the 3rd spot at 174,917 units and 10.1% share. The Renault 5 is the best-selling foreign model in the country in 4th place with 80,903 sales and 4.7%, it is followed by the Fiat 131 at 77,823 units and 4.5% and the VW Golf with 70,600 sales and 4.1%.

Previous year: Italy 1980: Fiat 127, Ritmo and Panda on podium

Next year: Italy 1982: Fiat 127, Ritmo and Panda dominate

Full Year and December 1981 Top 10 Ranking Tables below.

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