The Fiat 127 was the European best-seller from 1973 to 1978.
The direct links to 52 Historical Data articles are below.
We now offer European coverage for the past 50 years. There is now a podium ranking available all the way up to 1972. We learn that 1972 was the last year of reign for the VW Beetle before the Fiat 127 took the relay in 1973 when Fiat even managed to place two models atop the ranking with the 128 at #2.
The Renault 5 is estimated to have led European sales from 1979 to 1982.
The 127 would top the European sales charts for 6 consecutive years before being toppled by the Renault 5 in 1979. The French mini in all likeliness remained #1 until the VW Golf took charge in 1983 after making a first appearance on the European podium as early as 1976… The Ford Escort (in 1975) and Taunus (in 1977) both peaked at an outstanding 2nd place.
The VW Golf was the #1 model in Europe for 32 of the last 37 years.
From 1983 onwards, the VW Golf went on to be the best selling model on the continent for no less than 32 years, with only four other models holding the pole position at year-end: the Fiat Punto in 1997, Peugeot 206 in 2003, Opel Astra in 2005 and 2006 and Peugeot 207 in 2007.
Launched in 1991, the Opel Astra had to wait 2005 to be #1 in Europe.
Going into the monthly detail, a few more nameplates managed to lead the European market for that amount of time: the Renault Megane, Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Renault Clio and Opel Corsa all ranked #1 at some stage over the past 20 years. Strikingly, since the early 2010s the VW Golf has ranked #1 during 98 of 100 months with the Ford Fiesta leading the charts in March 2010 and March 2017 and the Opel Corsa in September 2018.
Peugeot is the only carmaker to place 2 different nameplates at the annual pole position in Europe in the last 15 years: the 206 (2003) and 207 (2007).
All European Historical Data articles now have a lot more detail. From 1992 to 1996 there is at least a Top 30 models ranking available and from 1999 onwards you can check out the sales of every single model sold in Europe for each year. There is also every Monthly Top 10 from 1996 to 1999 and from July 2005 onwards, so you can see the complete evolution of the market over the years.
At this stage we do not have any detailed ranking for 1980-1983 and 1985-1988, we just know the VW Golf was in the pole position from 1983 onwards. And before 1972 I have nothing official, so if you happen to have access to more European models sales data, please make sure to get in touch by commenting on this post.
Europe Historical Data:
Europe 1972: VW Beetle and two Fiats on top
Europe 1973: Fiat monopolises Top 2 spots with 127 and 128!
Europe 1974: Fiat 127 at highest, Renault 5 up to #2
Europe 1975: Fiat 127 and Ford Escort on top
Europe 1976: Fiat 127 leads, VW Golf on podium for the first time
Europe 1977: Fiat 127 and Ford Taunus dominate
Europe 1978: VW Golf threatens Fiat 127 for top spot!
Europe 1979: Renault 5 new best-seller
Europe 1980-1982: Renault 5 most probable leader
Europe 1983-1987: Second generation VW Golf takes the lead
Europe 1984: VW Golf ahead of Ford Escort and Fiat Uno
Europe 1988: VW Golf and Fiat Uno on top
Europe 1989: VW Golf and Opel Kadett dominate
Europe 1990: VW Golf, Opel Kadett and Fiat Uno on podium
Europe 1991: VW Golf leads, Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio follow
Europe 1992: New gen VW Golf and Opel Astra on top
Europe 1993-1994: VW Golf stays on top, Opel Astra #2
Europe 1995: Fiat Punto interrupts 154 months of VW Golf domination
Europe 1996: VW Golf resists Fiat Punto assault
Europe 1997: Fiat Punto crowned for the first time
Europe 1998: VW Golf, Renault Megane and Fiat Punto lead
Europe 1999: Opel Astra a serious threat to VW Golf
Europe 2000: VW Golf and Fiat Punto in the lead
Europe 2001: VW Golf, Peugeot 206 and Fiat Punto on podium
Europe 2002: VW Golf only 500 units above the Peugeot 206
Europe 2003: Peugeot 206 most popular, VW Golf down to #2
Europe 2004: VW Golf, Peugeot 206 and 307 on podium
Europe 2005: VW Golf keeps Opel Astra at bay, or does it?
Europe 2006: Opel Astra triumphs, Ford Focus and Renault Clio close behind
Europe 2007: Peugeot 207 edges VW Golf out
Europe 2008: VW Golf defies the GFC
Europe 2009: VW Golf and Ford Fiesta dominate
Europe 2010: VW Golf leader ahead of Ford Fiesta and VW Polo
Europe 2010: Top 371 All models ranking now available
Europe 2011: VW Polo up to second spot for the first time
Europe 2011: Top 318 All models ranking now available
Europe 2012: Nissan Qashqai in Top 10 for the first time
Europe 2012: Top 350 All-models and Top 60 All-brands ranking now available
Europe 2013: VW Golf leads, Renault Clio on podium for the first time in 7 years
Europe 2014: Sales up for the first time in 7 years
Europe 2014: Discover the Top 360 All-models and All-brands
Europe 2015: Market up a snappy 9% to 14.2 million units
Europe 2015: Discover the Top 355 models and All-brands
Europe 2016: VW flat, Renault up in highest market in 9 years
Europe 2016: Discover the Top 385 models and Top 60 brands
Europe 2017: VW Golf celebrates 10 straight years at #1 in largest market since 2007
Europe 2018: WLTP transition freezes sales, VW, Peugeot, Dacia and Jeep shine, VW Golf #1, Tiguan #5
Europe 2019: Last minute tax-related sales rush edges market up 1.2% to highest in 12 years
The Dacia Logan was the best-selling model in Central & Eastern Europe from 2005 to 2008
Before 2011, Central & Eastern Europe figures were separate and included Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, with Croatia and Serbia added in 2008. Dominated by the Skoda Fabia with a huge 120,000+ annual sales in the early noughties, the Central & Eastern Europe models ranking took a Romanian turn in 2005 when the Dacia Logan took the lead. It stayed in pole position for 4 consecutive years before the Skoda Octavia became the consumers’ favourite in 2009.
Central & Eastern Europe Historical Data:
Central Europe 2002-2003: Skoda Fabia above 100,000 sales
Central Europe 2004: Skoda Fabia, Octavia and Peugeot 206 on podium
Central & Eastern Europe 2005-2007: Dacia Logan reigns
Central & Eastern Europe 2008: Dacia Logan resists Skoda assault
Central & Eastern Europe 2009: Skoda Octavia new favourite
Central and Eastern Europe 2010: Skoda Octavia strengthens lead