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.