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The Best Selling Cars of the 20th Century; Vintage Car Ads

Cars have been a staple of the U.S. economy and culture since the introduction of the Ford Model T in 1908. But as vehicle designs have evolved, and consumer tastes alongside them, the best-selling car in America and the world has changed as well. In this blog post, we will take a look at the best-selling cars of the 20th century by decade.


Best Selling Cars of the 1900s

Oldsmobile Curved Dash: The first mass-produced and affordable car in the world, thanks to Ransom Olds' assembly line technique. It was also one of the first cars to use a gasoline engine, a steering wheel, and a pedal-operated transmission.

Ford Model N: A precursor to the Model T, and one of the first cars to use a four-cylinder engine.

Cadillac Model A: The first car to use an electric starter, eliminating the need for a hand crank.


1910s

Ford Model T: The first mass-produced and affordable car in the world, thanks to Henry Ford's assembly line technique. It was also the first car to use a gasoline engine, a steering wheel, and a pedal-operated transmission. The most influential car of the 20th century.

Chevrolet Series 490: A competitor to the Model T, and offered more features and options.

Dodge Model 30: The first car to use an all-steel body, and was known for its durability and performance.


1920s


Ford Model A: The successor to the Model T, and was more modern and stylish than the Model T, featuring a four-cylinder engine, a three-speed transmission, four-wheel brakes, and a variety of colors and body styles. The Tampa Bay Automobile Museum has a rare gazogène system version of the Ford Model A.


Chevrolet Series AB National: A rival to the Model A, and offered a six-cylinder engine, a longer wheelbase, and a lower price.

Chrysler Model B-70: The first car to use four-wheel hydraulic brakes, and was praised for its quality and engineering.


1930s

Chevrolet Master: The best selling car brand of the 1930s, as it offered a range of models, from the economical Standard Six to the luxurious Master Deluxe. It also introduced some of the first innovations in car design, such as the streamlined Art Deco style, the independent front suspension, and the hydraulic brakes.

Ford Model B: The second generation of the Model A, and featured a V8 engine, a more aerodynamic body, and a lower center of gravity.

Plymouth Model PA: The first car to use a floating power engine mount, which reduced vibration and noise.


1940s

Chevrolet Stylemaster: The best selling car of the 1940s, as it resumed production and updated its models after World War II. It also introduced some of the first post-war innovations, such as the Powerglide automatic transmission, the Advance Design truck, and the Bel Air hardtop.

Ford Super Deluxe: The top-of-the-line model of the Ford, and featured a wood-paneled station wagon, a convertible coupe, and a sportsman.

Plymouth Special Deluxe: The most popular model of the Plymouth, and offered a spacious interior, a smooth ride, and a reliable engine.


1950s

Chevrolet Bel Air: The best selling car of the 1950s, as it offered a variety of models, from the practical 150 to the sporty Corvette. It also introduced some of the most iconic and influential car designs of the 20th century, such as the 1955 Chevy, the 1957 Chevy, and the 1959 Chevy. It also pioneered some of the first innovations in car performance, such as the small-block V8 engine, the fuel injection, and the positraction differential.


Ford Fairlane: The flagship model of the Ford, and featured a sleek and elegant body, a retractable hardtop, and a Thunderbird engine.

Plymouth Fury: The high-performance model of the Plymouth, and offered a powerful V8 engine, a push-button transmission, and a tailfin design.


1960s

Volkswagen Beetle: The best selling car of the 1960s, as it offered a low price, high reliability, easy maintenance, and quirky charm. It also became a symbol of the counterculture and the hippie movement, and was featured in movies, songs, and art. It also surpassed the Ford Model T as the most produced car in history.

Ford Mustang: The first of the pony cars, and offered a sporty and affordable car for the young and the restless. It also spawned a new segment of muscle cars, and was available in a variety of models, such as the GT, the Shelby, and the Mach 1. The Tampa Bay Automobile museum has a rare 1965 4WD version of the Ford Mustang on display.


Chevrolet Impala: The most popular model of the Chevrolet, and offered a spacious and comfortable car for the family and the cruiser. It also featured a distinctive body style, a powerful engine, and a smooth ride.


1970s

Toyota Corolla: The best selling car of the 1970s, as it offered a solution to the problems of the oil crisis, the environmental regulations, and the quality issues. It was popular for its high fuel economy, low emissions, high durability, and high resale value. It also became a symbol of the rise of the Japanese car industry, and the decline of the American car industry.


Ford Pinto: The first subcompact car from Ford, and offered a cheap and cheerful car for the budget-conscious. It also featured a hatchback design, a front-wheel drive, and a four-cylinder engine.

Chevrolet Vega: The first subcompact car from Chevrolet, and offered a stylish and sporty car for the young and the hip. It also featured an aluminum engine, a rear-wheel drive, and a station wagon.


1980s

Honda Accord: The best selling car of the 1980s, as it offered a combination of performance, comfort, and reliability. It was popular for its smooth ride, spacious interior, advanced features, and low maintenance. It also became a symbol of the success of the Japanese car industry, and the challenge of the American car industry.

Ford Escort: The second generation of the Ford Escort, and offered a compact and efficient car for the urban and the practical. It also featured a front-wheel drive, a five-speed transmission, and a diesel engine.

Chevrolet Cavalier: The second generation of the Chevrolet Cavalier, and offered a versatile and affordable car for the family and the commuter. It also featured a four-wheel drive, a convertible option, and a Z24 performance model.


1990s


Toyota Camry: The best selling car of the 1990s, as it offered a balance of quality, safety, and affordability. It was popular for its quiet engine, comfortable seats, ample trunk space, and high customer satisfaction. It also became a symbol of the dominance of the Japanese car industry, and the adaptation of the American car industry.

Honda Civic: The fifth generation of the Honda Civic, and offered a compact and agile car for the fun and the frugal. It also featured a VTEC engine, a double wishbone suspension, and a hatchback design.

Ford Taurus: The third generation of the Ford Taurus, and offered a large and refined car for the executive and the professional. It also featured a more aerodynamic body, a dual airbag


The best selling cars of the 20th century tell us a lot about the history and culture of each decade, as well as the evolution and innovation of the car industry. From the Oldsmobile Curved Dash to the Toyota Camry, each car has its own story and significance.



Sources:

(1) The Best-Selling Car in America, Every Year Since 1978 - Visual Capitalist. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/best-selling-car-in-america-every-year-since-1978/.

(2) The Most Popular Cars From Every Decade - SlashGear. https://www.slashgear.com/986132/the-most-popular-cars-from-every-decade/.

(3) Top Selling Car of Last Decade - 24/7 Wall St.. https://247wallst.com/special-report/2022/09/03/top-selling-car-of-last-decade/.

(4) India: best selling cars for the last decade 2011-2020 | Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1264831/india-best-selling-cars-for-the-last-decade/.


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