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UK: 1965-2021 Historical Data now available

The Austin Mini ranked within the UK Top 10 up until 1981

The direct links to 40 UK Historical Data posts are below.

You can also check the UK nameplates records here

Thanks to Chris, author of the book “British Leyland: Chronicle of a car crash“, I can now share with you more detail on the UK best-selling models since 1965, date of the first available SMMT data. In particular, there is now at least a complete Top 10 models ranking from 1965 to 1979 and sales of each Austin, BMC, British Leyland, MG, Morris and Triumph model over the period.

The MGB peaked at 13,755 sales in 1973

While the UK new car market grew from 1.1 million units in 1965 to a record 1.7 million in 1979, the most striking event at the time is the imports share going from a mere 5.1% in 1965 to a huge 56.3% in 1979, its first time ever above 50%… Most UK manufacturers would then disappear during the eighties at the same time as foreign carmakers like Peugeot, Toyota and Nissan started manufacturing cars in the UK.

Click here to find more used cars in the UKNote: the Used cars link is brought to you by

The Ford Cortina holds the all-time UK annual sales record at 193,784 units in 1979

As a reminder and thanks to Florian there is also at least a Top 15 models ranking from 1985 onwards, a Top 30 from 1995 onwards and a Top 100 for 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994 and 2004 up until now. This is very rare as info beyond the Top 10 is very hard to find… Plus from 2004 onwards every Monthly Top 10 is available, that’s over 140 consecutive months.

The Rover SD1 was #13 in 1978

Witness the last years of the Ford Anglia (Harry Potter’s car!) and the Austin Morris 1100, in the Top 2 from 1965 to 1971. Since 1972 or for the last 40 consecutive years, a Ford model has held the UK pole position: the Cortina (#1 for a total of 10 years), Escort (12 years), Fiesta (10 years) and Focus (10 years in a row from 1999 to 2008). The Cortina holds the all-time annual volume record in the UK with 193,784 units in 1979 whereas the Ford Sierra is the most successful model that never ranked #1, peaking at 175,911 sales in 1989.

Datsun Sunny

Discover how foreign models started to get a grip on the UK ranking, starting with the Datsun Sunny, first japanese car to rank within the year-end Top 10 in 1977 (#10) and the Datsun Cherry, #8 in 1981, a foreign model ranking record that would only be beaten 16 years later in 1997 when the locally produced Peugeot 306 ranked #7. The Nissan Qashqai, manufactured in the UK, is the only other Japanese car to rank within the year-end UK Top 10, every year since 2010, breaking into the annual Top 5 for the first time in 2015. All-in-all, only two additional foreign cars managed to break into the year-end UK Top 5: the Peugeot 206 at #4 in 2001 and 2002 when it sold a record 101,019 units, and the VW Golf at #5 from 2005 to 2010 and #4 in 2011.

The MG Maestro was #6 in 1983

Follow year after year the sales of the legendary MGB, rediscover forgotten names like the Triumph Dolomite, Stag, Leyland Princess, Rover P6 and SD1, Morris Marina & Allegro and MG Maestro & Montego…

The Leyland Princess was #9 in 1975

UK Historical Data:

UK 1965-1966: Austin Morris 1100 in charge

UK 1967: Ford Cortina takes the lead

UK 1968-1971: Austin Morris 1100/1300 reclaims pole position

UK 1972-1973: Ford Cortina best-seller

UK 1974-1975: Ford Cortina & Escort popular, Austin Allegro shines

UK 1976: Ford Escort claims top spot, Mini stays on podium

UK 1977-1979: Ford Cortina back on top, Morris Marina #3

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

UK 1982-1983: Ford Escort new leader, Ford Sierra arrives

UK 1984-1985: Ford Escort, Vauxhall Cavalier and Ford Fiesta on top

UK 1986-1987: Ford Escort, Fiesta and Sierra on podium

UK 1988-1989: Ford Escort leader, Sierra and Fiesta follow

UK 1990-1991: Ford Fiesta grabs the pole position

UK 1992: Ford Escort reclaims to spot

UK 1993: Ford Escorts stays #1, Ford Mondeo arrives

UK 1994: Ford Mondeo threatens Ford Escort’s domination

UK 1995: Last year at #1 for the Ford Escort

UK 1996: Ford Fiesta edges Ford Escort out

UK 1997: Ford Mondeo starts with a bang, Ford Fiesta leads at year-end

UK 1998: Ford Fiesta leads, Escort leaves, Focus arrives

UK 1999: Ford Focus takes the lead, Vauxhall Astra on podium

UK 2000-2001: Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra dominate, Peugeot 206 shines

UK 2002-2003: Ford Focus at its highest, Vauxhall Corsa #2

UK 2004: Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa dominate, Renault Megane strong

UK 2005: Ford Focus still in shape, Vauxhall Astra follows

UK 2006: Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa on top, Ford Fiesta leads for a month

UK 2007: Ford Focus challenged by Vauxhall Astra and Ford Fiesta

UK 2008: Ford Focus, Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta fight it out

UK 2009: Ford Fiesta new leader, Mini back in Top 10

UK 2010: Ford Fiesta leads again, VW Polo up to #6 and Nissan Qashqai in Top 10

UK 2011: Ford Fiesta #1, VW Golf at highest ranking ever

UK 2012: Nissan Qashqai hits highest ever ranking for Japanese model at #6

UK 2013: Ford Fiesta marks 10 years at #1, BMW places two models in Top 10 for the first time

UK 2014: Ford Fiesta leads in market up 9% to highest level in a decade

UK 2015: Market up 6% to record 2,633,503 units

UK 2015 – LCV: Ford Transit Custom and Vauxhall Vivaro on top

UK 2016: Second annual record in a row despite Brexit

UK 2016: Discover the Top 150 best-selling models (BSCB Exclusive)

UK 2017: VW Golf and Nissan Qashqai break records in market down 5.7%

UK 2017: Discover the Top 150 best-selling models

UK 2018: Brexit uncertainty sinks market to lowest in 5 years, Volkswagen scores first monthly wins, Ford Fiesta marks 10 years in a row at #1

UK 2019: Ford, Volkswagen, Mercedes dominate weakest market in 6 years

UK: Nameplates records now updated with 2019 data

UK 2020: Market hit -29.4% by two Covid lockdowns, Ford Fiesta teased by Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Puma and Volvo XC40 in Top 10

UK 2021: VW #1, outsells Ford for the first time, Vauxhall Corsa and Tesla Model 3 top market up 1%

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