Top 10 Best Selling Cars of All Time

Jason Siu
by Jason Siu

The numbers are always changing and a new list of the Top 10 best-selling vehicles in history, compiled by 24/7 Wall St. has a new model on top.

There are some surprises on the list, but for the most part it all makes sense. Whether they’ve been in production for a long time or they’re reasonably priced worldwide, the top 10 best-selling cars of all time might not be the most exciting, but are clearly the most popular throughout history.

The Chevrolet Impala is the only GM vehicle on the list and has quite the history since hitting the market 54 years ago. Starting its life as a large two-door performance coupe, the Impala evolved into a versatile sedan. Or as we like to call it, a rental car. Ironically, it isn’t actually offered as a coupe anymore, which seems like a distant memory after 10 generations of upgrades.

The newest-generation Volkswagen Passat starts at just under $20,000 and vastly different car from the first one that rolled off the assembly line in 1973. A solid seller, Volkswagen has completely changed the car, growing it into a significantly larger vehicle for the North American market in the hopes of selling even more of them.

This one may come as a bit of a surprise considering the Model T was produced back between 1908 and 1927 when Henry Ford first developed the modern assembly line. The Model T originally sold for less than $1,000, but later models sold for less than $300 once production really started rolling in the ’20s. The Model T made millions of Americans car owners while giving thousands of people jobs in the Detroit area.

In case you haven’t been inundated with reminders from Honda that their Accord has made the Car and Driver “10 Best” list 26 times and 15 years in a row, now you’ll know that it’s also the seventh best selling car of all time. Production of the Accord started in 1976 and it’s still one of the world’s most popular mid-sized, affordable cars, nine generations later.

The only surprise about the Honda Civic being on the list is that it’s in sixth place. Despite the recent model’s sales droop, the Civic is still one of the most popular cars in history. The Civic has been everyone’s affordable Honda since its debut in 1972, available in hatchback, coupe and sedan forms through multiple generations. In more recent years, the Civic can also be purchased with natural gas or hybrid powertrains, offering further savings through fuel efficiency.

Despite being discontinued back in 2000, the European Ford Escort still takes fifth place as a small, fuel-efficient car originally sold in England in 1967 as a 1968 model. Its popularity in England allowed for six generations of European Escorts with each update offering more options and a larger engine. It’s worth mentioning that the American Escort isn’t counted here, because it wasn’t related to the European model.

The Volkswagen Beetle is the oldest vehicle on this list that’s still in production and is one of the most iconic cars in history. The Beetle has been the Volkswagen flagship vehicle ever since it launched back in 1933 and has evolved considerably since. Recent Beetles offer something for everyone, with fuel-efficient diesel models to a performance-minded turbo version.

Clearly Volkswagen has had some success in its history, with yet another vehicle making the cut. This time it’s the Golf, traditionally the least expensive compact car the German automaker has to offer. (That is, until the new Jetta arrived). It originally debuted in 1974 as the Rabbit in America and was intended to be a successor to the Beetle, but we all know how that went. Now the Golf, Beetle and Passat team up for a powerful trio of vehicle models that helps drive VW as the number two automaker in the world for 2011.

We all know that pickup trucks are popular in the U.S., but we didn’t know they were this prolific. Second place on the list is the Ford F-Series truck line, which has been the best-selling full-size pickup in America for over 30 years. The first model rolled off the assembly line back in 1948, but since then the F-Series evolved to offer a broad trim level that appeals to a wide range of customers. From the affordable F-150 to the powerful F-450 Super Duty, there’s an F-Series for every need.

And finally, the number one selling vehicle of all time: the Toyota Corolla. The best selling car since 2007, when it came to vehicles (trucks included), Ford’s F-Series was ahead until recently, but now the Corolla can claim the overall title too.

It has been the Japanese automaker’s big seller ever since production began in 1966. From the popular AE86 variants to the economy sedan we know today, the Corolla has been the perfect car in both Japan and America. Billed as an inexpensive, fuel efficient sedan, the Corolla may have competition from its own company as the Prius line paves the way to becoming one of the top best selling cars of all time, but that’s a long way off.

Jason Siu
Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

More by Jason Siu

Join the conversation
2 of 5 comments
  • Jay Maggio Jay Maggio on Aug 08, 2017

    In regards to the other comments: This list includes cars from around the world and many of the cars you guys have listed were not sold world-wide. Chevy II/Nova, Ford Mustang, Ford Falcon, Ford Taurus were all good sellers but I doubt if they would make the top 20 list. Olds Cutlass, Chevy Malibu, and Ford Galaxie/LTD easily outsold the Nova, Mustang, etc.. Chevy Silverado probably makes it in the top 20. There could easily be a few other foreign cars to round out the top 20, most likely a Fiat, Renault, Opel, and/or Nissan models

  • Paul Drax Paul Drax on Nov 28, 2017

    This is completely meaningless given that many of these cars were sold over multiple generations which aren't actually related to each other in anything but name. It says '...the American Escort isnt counted here, because it wasnt related to the European model.' Well the European Escort of 1995 wasn't related to the European Escort of 1968 either. I doubt they shared a single common component. All they share is the name, and the American Escort shares that name as well. And how can you lump the modern Beetle with the 30s Beetle? As I said, meaningless.