I decided to crunch some numbers (too bad I didn't save them), and it seems to me that the Model T is still the best-selling car ever. I know that some say it's the VW Beetle, and others say that it's the Toyota Corolla. But to me we can't just look at the total numbers sold. We need to add some period data into the mix to get an accurate comparison. If my math is correct, if you look at the T with the respect to the world's population at the time, the number of cars on the road, and/or the number of people who could afford cars, the T is still by far the best-selling car ever. I also think that it's safe to say that the T was effectively the same car in 1927 that it was in 1909, save for a few mechanical and body style changes. The Beetle also fits in this category, but the Corolla most certainly does not. So, is the T still the best-selling car ever?
Cameron, I agree with you one hundred percent. I have thought the same thing ever since the claim was made that the VW outsold the Model T. Especially the world population at both times.
And they still sell Model T Fords everyday. I had heard years ago, there were 1 million Model Ts on the road. But on this forum, numbers seem to be around 300,000?
How many old VDubs are still on the road?
Would there be over 300,000?
Seems like I see a lot more old jeeps for sale.
It took VW, 65 years to make about 21,500,000 Beetles, an average of about 331,000 per year.
It took Ford 19 years to make 15,000,000 Model Ts, an average of about 790,000 per year. That far more that double.
When it comes to cars still on the road, I expect the Beetle outnumbers the T worldwide. It hasn't been sold new in this country for decades, but it was still manufactured in some countries until recent years. From Wikipedia:
By 2002, over 21 million Type 1s had been produced, but by 2003, annual production had dropped to 30,000 from a peak of 1.3 million in 1971. VW announced the end of production in June 2003, citing decreasing demand, and the final original Type 1 VW Beetle (No. 21,529,464) rolled off the production line at Puebla, Mexico, on 30 July 2003, 65 years after its original launch. This last Beetle, nicknamed El Rey (Spanish for "The King" after a legendary Mexican song by José Alfredo Jiménez) was delivered to the company's museum in Wolfsburg, Germany.
My gringo Beetle on the road in Oaxaca, 1974.
Another thing to consider is that there was a time when over half of all cars on the road were Model Ts. No other car will ever accomplish that feat.
You have to admit 65 years of production is a remarkable feat. A different car for a different time. The population equation can be a little misleading when you consider the world car production figures during 65 years of beetle production i.e. world pop/total car production.
At 35m it would be interesting to see the stats for Corollas produced with the original 2, 3 and 4 k motors before they went front wheel drive (1966 - 1989?).
A quick google indicates that 10m K series Toyota were produced between 1966 and 1983. Not a bad effort.
I've owned a 59, 64 and 71 Bug. All were great cars for me at the time. I got my first speeding ticket in the 64. But it was a speed trap!
This sounds like an interesting history research project. I may have to pass this on to some of the guys in the Restoration History degree track. It would be nice to have some more research on the subject. Bragging rights are always fun too.
1961: On the way back from Carnaval in Veracruz to Mexico City in my Devin bodied 1951 VW. I drove that thing all over Mexico and much of the US.
Sorry to burst bubbles but according to this site 22 million Beetles were produced.
Maybe it doesn't qualify here because it's a pick-up not a car, but hasn't the F series Ford truck out produced everything mentioned so far?
I have owned 2 Model Ts, 2 VWs and 2 F150s.
I tend to favor the raw numbers, but I believe one can present the statistics to defend various positions.
Cameron was not looking at raw numbers. He was comparing the number of cars sold to the world population in the respective era of each car.
In other words, what percentage of the world's population owned Model T's in 1927 versus what percentage owned Bugs in 19**. I do however wonder what population years he chose.
In order to compare contenders to the T they should at least have used the same power plant - hence the cut off date of 1983 for the corolla and exclusion of the F series truck - and a largely unchanged body 'style' which puts the Beetle way out in front. Then you could look at percentage of all cars sold - The T had limited competition compared to say the corolla.
1. Toyota Corolla (1966 - present )
Sales: 37.5 million
2. Ford F-Series (1948 - present )
Sales: 35 million
3. Volkswagen Golf (1974 - present )
Sales: 27.5 million
4. Volkswagen Beetle (1933 - 2003)
Sales: 23.5 million
5. Ford Escort (1968 - 2000)
Sales: 20 million
6. Honda Civic (1972 - present )
Sales: 18.5 million
7. Honda Accord (1976 - present)
Sales: 17.5 million
8. Ford Model T (1908 - 1927)
Sales: 16.5 million
9. Volkswagen Passat (1973 - present)
Sales: 15.5 million
10. Chevy Impala (1958 – present)
Sales: 14 million
I agree Ken, A 1958 Impala looks nothing like an Imapla of today. A VW beetle from 1933 compared to 2003 is at least similar.