8. Ford Escort
Didn’t expect to see a Ford here? Look closely and you’ll see a lot of the familiar Mazda Protégé sitting beneath the sheetmetal of that Ford.
In an era when domestic automakers couldn’t build a compact car any more than they could turn down a pay raise for unionized labor, the Ford took the “if you can’t beam ’em join ’em” approach. Or to be more precise, if you can’t beat ’em, invest heavily in them and tell them what to do.
A followup to the Pinto (a car so bad it could literally kill you), the Escort was a solid product and a genuine rival to offerings from Honda and Toyota. To date, it’s the best selling Ford car of all time with 20 million units sold throughout the world.