* See the Full list of millionaire models by clicking on the title! *
Selling more than 1 million units in a single year is a feat not many cars have achieved in the past, and I thought it would be worth recapping which are these millionaire models. Based on all the data that I have accumulated so far at this stage I am aware of 6 models having achieved this feat. If you know more, have more accurate data or can build on the data featured in this article please ensure you get in touch by commenting on here!
The very first model to break the mythical barrier of one million units produced or sold in one year was the Ford Model T. If millionaire models are still very rare at the start of the 21st century you can imagine how huge a feat it would have been in 1922, 13 years after the introduction of the Model T to the US and the world, when the 1,301,067 units were churned out of Ford factories spread across the planet.
The year after in 1923, the Ford Model T became the first and only model to date to be produced at over 2 million units in a single year with 2,011,125 units. This is still today the highest annual production figure ever achieved by a single model. By then Ford was building Model T’s at a rate of up to 10,000 cars a day! For yearly production figures of the Model T click here.
The next model to achieve millionaire status is the VW Beetle. Over 25 years after its conception in Germany, 1 million Beetles came out of the Wolfsburg factory in Germany in 1965 and in 1971 1.3 million units were produced around the world, the highest yearly figure in the nameplate’s 65 year-life. I estimate that the Beetle was above 1 million annual units between 1965 and 1972.
1965 was the year of millionaires: that year the Chevrolet Impala sold 1,074,925 units in the US alone, still to this date the highest annual sales volume ever achieved by a single model in the US since World War 2. In fact no other model has managed to sell over a million annual units in the US since while the Impala did it twice, passing the million benchmark again in 1966.
We had to wait at least 20 years to welcome a new member in the millionaire club: the Toyota Corolla. Best-selling car in the world from the late seventies onwards, the Corolla could have potentially broken the million benchmark as early as in the mid-eighties, then passing it officially in 2005 (1.185m) and 2011 (1.142m). If you have any more official sales data for the Corolla please get in touch.
Helped by tremendous success with American farmers the Ford F-Series truck sold 1,006,325 units around the world in 2000, 87% of which in the States. This is the only millionaire year for the F-Series I have official data for, however I estimate it has passed the benchmark 4 more times: in 1999 (estimated 1.001m sales), 2001 (1.047m), 2004 when it sold a record 939,511 units in the US (est. world 1.082m) and 2005 (1.031m).
Finally the VW Golf is the 6th millionaire nameplate, selling an official 1,143,044 units worldwide in 2000, but potentially passing the benchmark in 1993 also. Again if you have more data to share please get in touch.
Full list of millionaire models through the years below.