The Chevrolet Chevette was the last car to rank US #1 overall (1981) although some sources have the Oldsmobile Cutlass in that position then.
See the direct links to 50 USA Historical Data posts below.
I can now share with you full models ranking for the USA between 1985 and 2020, slowly but surely filling up the holes in US Historical Data on BSCB. I have recently purchased The Encyclopedia of American Cars which compiles annual production data for all American models ever produced, so stay tuned as US Historical Data will shortly be further updated on here… For now I can give you pre-war production figures, intermittent detailed models ranking throughout the seventies, and at least a Top 10 ranking for each year from 1985 onwards without interruption.
The Ford Model T still holds the annual production volume record in the US.
It all starts in 1908 with the launch of the Ford Model T, later on reaching a record 2,011,125 units produced in 1923, still to this day the highest annual production figure ever achieved by a single model… The Ford Model A took the relay, peaking at 1.9 million units in 1929. Then there is a big gap in US data which I hope to fill in the next couple of months, and we jump to 1965 when the Chevrolet Impala sold 1,074,925 units, the highest postwar annual sales volume achieved by a single model in the country.
The Oldsmobile Cutlass was America’s most popular vehicle in 1975 and 1976.
In the seventies the US models ranking was changing fast, crowing the Ford Pinto in 1974, the Oldsmobile Cutlass in 1975 and 1976 and the Chevrolet Impala/Caprice in 1977, 1978 and 1979. In 1980 the Chevrolet Citation takes the lead before being passed by lil sis the Chevrolet Chevette in 1981. And this would mark the last year a Passenger Car topped the US sales charts, because the Ford F-Series jumped into pole position in 1982 and has not let go of it since, holding the title of best-selling vehicle in the country for 38 years in a row and peaking at 939,511 sales in 2004.
The Ford F-Series became America’s best-selling vehicle in 1982 and never looked back…
The locally-produced Honda Accord was the first model by a foreign brand to top the Passenger Car ranking in 1989, the Ford Taurus gave the title back to the US from 1992 to 1996 before the Toyota Camry started its reign in 1997 to then become the best-selling Passenger Car in the country for 22 of the following 23 years.
The Ford Taurus is the last US model to have been the #1 car at home (1996).
USA 1908-2019 Historical Data:
USA 1908-1927: Ford Model T makes the automobile popular
USA 1927-1932: Ford Model A sells 4.8 million units in 4 years
USA 1960-1970: Chevrolet Impala breaks records
USA 1972: Chevrolet Vega threatens VW Beetle
USA 1974: Ford Pinto and Plymouth Valiant dominate
USA 1975: Oldsmobile Cutlass and Ford Granada on top
USA 1976: Oldsmobile Cutlass still America’s favourite
USA 1977: Chevrolet Caprice/Impala takes the lead, Ford F-Series now best-selling truck
USA 1978: Chevrolet Impala/Caprice #1, Ford Fairmont best-selling new car ever introduced
USA 1979: Chevrolet places Impala/Caprice and Chevette on podium
USA 1980: Oldsmobile Cutlass reigns Supreme, or Chevrolet Citation?
USA 1980-1985: The last time the French really tried
USA 1981: Chevrolet Chevette or Oldsmobile Cutlass lead, VW Rabbit up to #4
USA 1982: Ford F-Series takes command, Escort #1 car in weakest market since 1970
USA 1983: Ford F-Series #1, last year of car reign by the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
USA 1984: Ford F-Series 3peats at #1, Chevrolet Cavalier best-selling car
USA 1985: Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Cavalier on top
USA 1986: Chevrolet Celebrity leads passenger cars
USA 1987: Ford places F-Series, Escort and Taurus in Top 4
USA 1988: Chevrolet C/K pickup and Corsica impress
USA 1989: Honda Accord first foreign model to lead passenger cars
USA 1990: Can the Honda Accord ever lead the overall market?
USA 1991: Honda Accord ever closer to overall pole position
USA 1992: Ford Taurus leads passenger cars for the first time
USA 1993: Ford F-Series and Taurus keep the lead
USA 1994: Ford F-Series and Chevrolet C/K stronger
USA 1995: Ford F-Series and Explorer impress
USA 1996: Ford F-Series at 780,000 sales, new Dodge Ram lands
USA 1997: Toyota Camry takes command of passenger cars
USA 1998: Ford F-Series above 800,000 sales
USA 1999: Ford F-Series, Chevrolet C/K and Toyota Camry on podium
USA 2000: Ford Explorer climbs onto podium
USA 2001: Ford F-Series breaks record, Honda Accord best-selling passenger car
USA 2002: Toyota Camry back to passenger car lead
USA 2003: New Ford F-Series leads, pickups monopolise podium
USA 2004: Best year ever for the Ford F-Series!
USA 2005: Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado break monthly records
USA 2006: Toyota Camry and Corolla lead passenger car ranking
USA 2007: Chevrolet Silverado threatens Ford F-Series
USA 2008: Tormented year sees Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla shine
USA 2009: Worst year since 1982, Ford F-Series still leads
USA 2010: Ford F-Series celebrates 29 consecutive years at #1
USA 2011: Ford F-Series celebrates 30 years at #1, Toyota Camry 10 consecutive years at #1
USA 2012: Ford F-Series and Toyota Camry still the ones, Honda places 2 models in Top 5
USA 2013: Ford F-Series at best since 2006 in market up 8%
USA 2014: Podium 100% pickup trucks for the first time in 11 years
USA 2014: Exclusive rankings State by State now available
USA 2015: 15 year-old annual record eclipsed: 17,470,659 units
USA 2015: Exclusive State by State rankings now available
USA 2016: Incentives lift market to second straight annual record
USA 2016: Exclusive State by State rankings now available
USA 2017: First decline since 2009, F-Series leads, Toyota RAV4 & Nissan Rogue outsell all passenger cars
USA 2017: Exclusive State by State rankings now available
USA 2018: Market up 0.6%, light trucks up 7.7% to record 69.1% share, cars down 13% to lowest since 1958, Jeep, Subaru, Ram break records
USA 2018: Exclusive State by State rankings now available
USA 2019: Ford F-Series #1 for 38th year running, Ram Pickup #2 for the 1st time, light trucks at 72% share in market down -1.5%
USA 2019: Exclusive State by State rankings now available
USA 2020: Ford F-Series #1 for 39th year, Chevy Silverado & GMC Sierra up in market down -14.6%