LightAuto

Million Plus Models Part One.

I have been studying the cars on the British market between 1945 and 1970. It was significant quarter of a century in regarding the development of the automobile. As regards the light car, it was the period when the rear engined car reached its zenith, before declining as the front wheel drive car reached its dominant position. Both layouts pushed the front engine rear wheel drive format into oblivion.
I find that there were forty-seven models that had a production total of a million plus units. It is those cars that are studied here.
The vast majority were light cars with a total 92.81 million as against 10.99 million for the heavy cars and 2.93 millions for the cars available with a mixture of large and small engines, the group that would be the largest today. In respect of production totals, the front wheel drive cars were the most numerous at thirty eight percent of cars reviewed. The rear engined cars were next at thirty six percent, leaving the front engined rear wheel drive cars trailed at twenty six percent. The German designed cars, as opposed to manufactured cars comprised a quarter of the total produced. The Beetle was produced in millions in Brazil. The British built 12 percent of the cars, the Japanese and the Italians 10 percent, the Czechs only managed a little over one percent, but the French had the largest share at forty three percent.
The most significant of these cars is the Volkswagen "Beetle", a popular name given to an evolving series of models. Most of the cars mentioned below were available with various bodies and engine size options, but the Beetle also had two chassis versions. Most had the classic Beetle chassis with trailing link and torsion bar front suspension and swing axle and torsion bar rear suspension and were produced from 1945 until 2003. From 1970 to 1975 they were joined by the 1302S and 1303S models with McPherson strut front suspension and trailing arms at the rear. They all contributed to a grand production total of over twenty one million vehicles produced over fifty-eight years. A total of 19.3 million units were made throughout the world before production ceased in Germany in 1978. That’s at a rate .58 million per year. The couple of extra million have been produced by Volkswagen factory in Brazil in the last twenty-five years. If you spread the twenty one million over fifty eight year production life of the car we get a figure of .36 million a year. The Volkswagen "1600" was only moderately successful by Volkswagen standards, but production total of 1.81 million over eight years was a respectable figure by the standards of the rest of the industry.
Only one car produced at that time exceeded the long term Beetle production rate, and only for a four year production run, that is the Nissan Bluebird 510 made from 1967 to 1971. This model Bluebird was made in Japan, later Bluebird models were in production in Britain in 1988.  Another Nissan model sold in Britain at this time that was the Sunny B10. Made from 1966 to 1970 and 1.22 million were produced.
The Renault R4 was a great workhorse and over thirty years 8.13 million examples were produced and it rates only second to the Beetle in terms of production totals. That is at a rate of 0,26 million a year.
It was Renaults first front wheel drive car. All the previous million plus Renaults were rear engined cars. Of these the Dauphine was the biggest seller at 2.15 million over nine years. The others were the R6 at 1.77 million, the R8 at 1.3 million, both over a nine year period and the 4CV at 1.1 million over fifteen years from 1946 to 1961. After the R4, other front wheel drive cars the R12 and R16 were produced at 2.86 and 1.84 million respectively with production runs from eleven to seventeen years.
The Mini was the next most numerous at five plus millions. Production spanned forty-nine years at a rate of 0.1 million per year. Unlike the Beetle, that had came with one image, the British Motor Corporation Mini came with many faces. As well as the Austin and Morris versions when first introduced, the Mini could also be purchased as a Riley Elf and a Wolseley Hornet, before the popular name mini was adopted for the car and it was marketed as such.  The BMC 1100/1300 was also sold with a variety of badges, Austin/Morris/ MG/ Riley/ Wolseley/ Vandon Plas. Produced between 1963 and 1974 at the rate of 0.25 million per year, to a total of 2.71 million units. The other BMC million plus car was the Morris Minor. First produced in 1948 before the formation of the corporation by Morris Motors, the Minor remained in production for twenty-three years by which time 1.3 million had been made.
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