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This was 50 years ago in France… Renault 4 leads, Citroen #2 brand at 29% share, Panhard PL17 almost in Top 10

Renault 4 La Parisienne France 1963Renault 4 La Parisienne

* Discover 50 French Historical Data articles spanning the last 65 years here *

Today we inaugurate a new series on BestSellingCarsBlog: This was years ago…. Where I focus on one year in one country and reflect on the changes that have affected that specific market since. We start with France 50 years ago in 1963. At the time 909,263 new passenger cars found a buyer in France, a whopping 15% above the 1962 figure and over 5 times the sales figure of 1950… An additional 138,377 Light Commercial Vehicles were registered that year, and I even have an exclusive LCV models ranking as well! Exciting times indeed.

Panhard PL17 France 1963Panhard PL17

Brand-wise, it’s a familiar face on top of the sales charts: Renault with 33.5% market share, but the #2 is Citroen with 29.2%, roughly double the market share it captures at home nowadays and way above Peugeot (16.4%) which would later buy it out. Simca is just behind at 15.7% while Panhard concludes a Top 5 100% French at a much more modest 2.9%, in line with its premium status.

Plymouth Valiant France 1963Plymouth Valiant

Foreign brands grab 14% of the French market (vs. over 50% today) with Ford Germany leading the charge at #6 and 2.7% above Fiat and Ford UK. Adding up Ford Germany, UK and US subsidiaries, at the time with distinct ranges, brings it to just under 5% share. Notice also the presence of a whole range of American brands, remnants of a golden age already long past at the time: Plymouth is #30, Buick #33, Dodge #36, Oldsmobile #38 and Mercury #39.

Peugeot 404 Break France 1963Peugeot 404 Break

Renault 3 France 1963Who remembers the Renault 3? 

Model-wise, the Renault 4 had launched two years before and was the country’s best-seller as early as for its first full year in market in 1962. It confirms in 1963 with 141,126 sales and an imposing 15% market share, above the Renault 8 at 13.9% and the legendary Citoen 2CV at 13.2%. Note the Renault 4 sales figure includes a few of the long forgotten Renault 3, a “low cost” version of the model of which only 2,562 units would be produced.

Citroen ID France 1963Citroen ID – Citroen holds almost 30% market share in France in 1963.

The best-selling Peugeot comes in 4th place: the 404 sells 101,924 units for a very reasonable 10.8% share, more than double what the 208 manages today. Notice also the Citroen DS/ID at #7 with 57,510 units and 6.1%, a significant performance given its price tag at the time, two Simcas inside the Top 10 and the Panhard PL17 knocking on the Top 10’s door at #11 with 26,609 sales and 2.8%, virtually all sales of the brand that year.

Ford Taurus 17M France 1963Ford Germany is the #1 importer in France in 1963.

The Ford Taunus 12M is the most popular foreign model at #13 and 1.7% share, followed closely by the Ford Cortina/Zephyr at #14. There are 5 additional foreigners inside the Top 20, including the Opel Kadett at #19 and VW “Coccinelle” (French for Beetle) at #20.

Citroen Type H France 1963Citroen Type H

Renault Estafette. Picture courtesy of estafette.r213x.comRenault Estafette

Renault Galion France 1963. Picture courtesy of hoflandt-le-jardin-aux-oiseaux.frRenault Galion

In the LCV ranking, the Citroen 2CV “Fourgonette” is the best-seller with 28,768 sales followed by the Renault 4 Fourgonette at 21,238 and the legendary Renault Estafette at 18,733. Notice also the Citroen Type H at #5 with 11.7% share and the Renault Galion at #7 and 4.9%.

More pictures, 1963 Top 30 models, Top 17 All-LCV and Top 56 All-brands below.

France 1963 – models:

PosModel1963%
1Renault 3/4141,12615.0%
2Renault 8130,36813.9%
3Citroen 2CV123,89313.2%
4Peugeot 404101,92410.8%
5Citroen Ami 690,0359.6%
6Simca 900/100077,1398.2%
7Citroen ID/DS57,5106.1%
8Simca 1300/150041,8264.4%
9Peugeot 40340,6164.3%
10Renault Dauphine35,4823.8%
11Panhard PL1726,6092.8%
12Simca Aronde22,9022.4%
13Ford Taunus 12M16,4001.7%
14Ford Cortina+Corsair13,1001.4%
15Renault Floride9,4431.0%
16Ford Taunus 17M9,1001.0%
17Opel Rekord8,6000.9%
18Fiat 500D8,5000.9%
19Opel Kadett6,3000.7%
20VW Coccinelle “1200”5,8000.6%
21Ford Anglia5,7000.6%
22Simca Ariane4,8260.5%
23NSU Prinz3,6000.4%
24Fiat 1800/23002,9000.3%
25Fiat 600D2,8000.3%
26Mercedes 2202,3000.2%
27VW (type 3) “1500”2,2000.2%
28Mercedes 190-190 SL2,1000.2%
29DKW Junior/F11/F121,9500.2%
30Alfa Romeo Giulia1,8500.2%

Citroen 2CV Fourgonette France 1963Citroen 2CV Fourgonette

Renault 4 Fourgonette France 1963Renault 4 Fourgonette

Citroen ID Familiale France 1963Citroen ID Break

Peugeot D4B France 1963Peugeot D4B

France 1963 – LCV:

PosModel1963%
1Citroen 2CV28,76820.8%
2Renault 421,23815.3%
3Renault Estafette18,73313.5%
4Peugeot 40416,32411.8%
5Citroen Type H16,12711.7%
6Peugeot 4039,0896.6%
7Renault Galion6,7544.9%
8Peugeot D4B4,4523.2%
9Hotchkiss JH3,4422.5%
10Citroen ID Break3,4392.5%
11Renault 750 K 4×42,2721.6%
12Simca Aronde1,9241.4%
13Renault Voltigeur6170.4%
14Panhard Break5630.4%
15Panhard F-652030.1%
16Citroen T 23/351550.1%
17Hotchkiss HWL330.0%

Note: Import LCV models sales are unavailable

France 1963 – brands:

PosBrand1963%
1Renault315,00033.5%
2Citroen275,00029.2%
3Peugeot154,70016.4%
4Simca148,00015.7%
5Panhard27,0002.9%
6Ford Germany25,5102.7%
7Fiat23,1082.5%
8Ford UK19,8322.1%
9Opel15,4661.6%
10Volkswagen7,9840.8%
11Mercedes4,5860.5%
12NSU3,6200.4%
13Neckar2,7140.3%
14Alfa Romeo2,5400.3%
15Austin-BMC2,3650.3%
16DAF2,2540.2%
17Auto Union-DKW1,9700.2%
18BMW1,9490.2%
19Triumph-Standard1,7430.2%
20MG1,6670.2%
21Morris1,6110.2%
22Vauxhall1,2270.1%
23Lancia6570.1%
24Jaguar6230.1%
25Volvo5720.1%
26Sunbeam5420.1%
27Autobianchi5160.1%
28Rambler4830.1%
29Chevrolet4260.0%
30Plymouth4100.0%
31Glas3140.0%
32Hillman2430.0%
33Buick2390.0%
34Porsche2360.0%
35Skoda2290.0%
36Dodge1820.0%
37Ford US1640.0%
38Oldsmobile1470.0%
39Mercury1460.0%
40Rover840.0%
41Studebaker630.0%
42Ferrari500.0%
43Innocenti360.0%
44Singer340.0%
45Cadillac270.0%
46Maserati270.0%
47Pontiac200.0%
48Rolls Royce/Bentley200.0%
49Princess190.0%
50Chrysler130.0%
51Daimler130.0%
52Saab130.0%
53Aston Martin100.0%
54Abarth60.0%
55Morgan50.0%
56Lotus10.0%

Source: L’Argus, many thanks to STAC for compiling and sharing the data!

This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. How many classics on the chart! Renault 4 was very popular in my country during seventies and eighties, because it was produced in Yugoslavia till 1990. We have good funclub in Serbia of Renault 4 funs. Citroen DS was highclass limousine, for executive managers… Peugeot 404 was better than Mercedes. Franch car industry was the best in Europe during 60-ies!

  2. Salut,
    En fait pour les VUL: modèles français uniquement dans ce classement. J’ai pas des chiffres des modèles étrangers (comme j’ai marqué dans mes fichiers, je crois)…. 🙂

    à bientôt.

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