Comparison: car sales in US 1985 vs. 2015, part 2: models

Renault_Alliance-ad-US-car-sales-1985-modelsEarlier this week we looked at how the US car market has evolved in the past 30 years, and noticed that the local Detroit 3 brands have lost a significant chunk of their impressive market share. The Japanese, European and South-Korean brands have picked up that lost volume and some more as the American manufacturers killed off brands that had almost 3 million sales in 1985. Other brands that are no longer around in the US were much smaller, as only Isuzu (barely) sold more than 100.000 units that year. Suzuki was just launched in 1985 and of the Europeans that have been pulled out Saab was the biggest, with Renault, Peugeot and especially Yugo as niche players, although technically the AMC Alliance and Encore should be considered Renault models as well.

The top 2 best selling vehicles in the United States haven’t changed since 30 years ago, as the Ford F-Series has held the title since 1982, and never gave it up. The Chevrolet Silverado was still called the C/K back then, but already was in second place as it still is today. The RAM pick-up is #3 nowadays, but was far behind in 25th place three decades ago when it was still called the Dodge Ram.

Honda_Civic-Toyota_Corolla-1985-US-car-sales-modelsBehind these full-sized pick-up trucks, 30 years ago General Motors and Ford each sold well over 400.000 units of their compact cars, compared to just half of that figure for their successors Cruze and Focus last year.Exactly the opposite has happened for the Corolla and Civic, which were back in 22nd and 29th place in 1985. Similarly, the best selling passenger car in the US has been either the Toyota Camry or the Honda Accord since 1997, but 12 years earlier the Camry was still way back in 37th place, while Accord was already up to #9 thanks to local production. The Ford Taurus, which would lead the US passenger car ranking from 1992 till 1996 was introduced in 1985 and sold just over 4.000 units that year.

Ford_Ranger-US-car-sales-1985-modelsJapanese small pick-up trucks were already popular back in the day, as the Toyota SR5 and the Nissan Pickup both outsold the Ford Ranger and the Chevrolet S-10. While the Ranger is no longer available in the US, Chevrolet has just returned to the segment last year with the Colorado, but the Toyota Tacoma is still the leader of the segment today. All have lost quite some volume compared to 30 years ago.

Large sedans were still popular that time, with the Chevrolet Caprice selling almost a quarter of a million units and the Panther platform siblings Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car scored well over 400.000 sales combined.

Ford_Mustang-Chevrolet_Camaro-US-sales-figures-1985-models

Photo credit: Car and Driver

And what about muscle cars? The Chevrolet Camaro was in 17th place with nearly 200.000 sales and the Ford Mustang was in 26th position also selling better than today. Remember the Merkur XR4? This rebadged Euro Ford Sierra sold almost 9.000 units in the US that year. The Japanese also sold their fair share of sports cars, with over 65.000 sales of both the Nissan 300ZX and the 240 SX, over 50.000 sales for the Mazda RX-7 and 23.500 of the Toyota Supra.

Plymouth_Horizon-US-car-sales-1985-modelsChrysler had stunned the automotive world a few years earlier with the introduction of the first minivan and the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager racked up almost 250.000 sales in 1985 as the competition was still sleeping. In those days Dodge and Plymouth also sold a few rebadged small hatchbacks from Talbot (Dodge Omni / Plymouth Horizon) and Mitsubishi (Dodge/Plymouth Colt), which could be the spiritual ancestors to the Dodge Dart of today, which is also based on a foreign model: the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. In 64th place, the Plymouth Horizon was even the best selling “European” car in the US that year. Add the sales of the Omni to that and the American-made French hatchback would be in the top-30! Did you know they were the first “American” front-wheel drive cars that sold in significant volumes?

Peugeot_505-US-car-sales-1985-modelsThe most popular real European car in 1985 was the Volkswagen Jetta in 65th place, and it still is if we split the BMW 4-Series from the 3-Series. Back then, the Golf was only 2 spots behind and the AMC Alliance had only 10.000 sales less than the Jetta. The two years before that the Alliance was even ahead of the Jetta with over 100.000 sales. Pretty impressive for a compact French sedan in the States, although that fairy tale would soon be over. At over 15.000 sales, the Peugeot 505 was the best selling true French car in the States in 1985.

Yugo-US-car-sales-1985-modelsThe bottom of the ranking is full of interesting and obscure models like the Isuzu I-Mark, AMC Eagle, Mitsubishi Starion (also as Dodge and Plymouth Conquest), Renault Fuego, the Yugo, Subaru Brat, GMC Caballero and Alfa Romeo GTV-6.

Hyundai would start sales of its first model the Excel the next year and with over 168.800 sales it still holds the record of the highest first-year sales of any new brand in the United States.

 

Model 1985 2015 Successor name 2015 rank
1 Ford F-series 562.507 780.354 1
2 Chevrolet C/K 436.910 600.544 Chevrolet Silverado 2
3 Chevrolet Cavalier 431.031 226.602 Chevrolet Cruze 17
4 Ford Escort 420.690 202.478 Ford Focus 23
5 Chevrolet Celebrity 363.619 194.854 Chevrolet Malibu 25
6 Oldsmobile Ciera 333.585 0
7 Toyota SR5 (Hilux) 291.442 179.562 Toyota Tacoma 27
8 Ford Tempo 281.144 Ford Focus
9 Honda Accord 268.420 355.557 6
10 Nissan Pickup 255.601 62.817 Nissan Frontier 82
11 Ford Ranger 247.042 0
12 Chevrolet Caprice 245.826 1.845 249
13 Buick Century 234.508 19.504 Buick Regal 157
14 Nissan Sentra 219.024 203.509 21
15 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme 217.504 0
16 Chevrolet S-10 210.051 84.430 Chevrolet Colorado 64
17 Chevrolet Camaro 199.985 77.502 68
18 Oldsmobile 88 188.129 0
19 Chevrolet S-10 Blazer 187.234 0
20 Ford LTD 185.014 300.170 Ford Fusion 12
21 Ford Econoline 182.079 117.577 Ford Transit 46
22 Toyota Corolla / Matrix 168.378 363.332 5
23 Pontiac 6000 165.728 0
24 Ford Crown Victoria 162.334 0
25 Dodge Ram 160.574 451.116 RAM Pickup 3
26 Ford Mustang 157.821 122.439 41
27 Ford Thunderbird 157.209 0
28 Chevrolet Cargo Van 150.868 63.382 Chevrolet Express 79
29 Honda Civic / Del Sol 150.545 335.384 8
30 Buick Skylark 149.611 31.889 Buick Verano
31 Cadillac Deville 146.395 23.112 Cadillac XTS 145
32 Subaru Wagon 145.989 60.447 Subaru Legacy 86
33 Plymouth Reliant 138.833 0
34 Dodge Caravan 136.335 97.141 55
35 Mercury Grand Marquis 135.202 0
36 Chevrolet Chevette 129.927 64.775 Chevrolet Sonic 75
37 Toyota Camry 128.132 429.355 4
38 Oldsmobile Calais 122.810 0
39 Oldsmobile 98 122.421 0
40 GMC C/K Sierra 121.434 224.139 18
41 Pontiac Grand Am 121.273 0
42 Mercury Cougar 119.225 0
43 Lincoln Town Car 117.606 0
44 Pontiac Sunbird 116.837 0
45 Dodge Aries 116.284 0
46 Mazda B-Series 115.788 0
47 Buick LeSabre 115.212 0
48 Buick Regal 112.590 42.035 Buick LaCrosse 107
49 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 112.585 0
50 Chrysler Fifth Avenue 109.010 177.889 Chrysler 200 28
51 Plymouth Voyager 106.492 93.848 Chrysler Town & Country 59
52 Chevrolet Astro 106.157 0
53 Ford Bronco II 104.934 0
54 Pontiac Firebird 100.160 0
55 Buick Electra 99.185 0
56 Nissan Maxima 99.051 40.359 111
57 Jeep Cherokee 98.877 220.260 19
58 Mazda 626 92.839 57.898 Mazda6 89
59 Pontiac Fiero 90.303 0
60 Toyota Tercel 88.841 16.779 Toyota Yaris 169
61 Mercury Marquis 87.844 0
62 Chrysler Lebaron Sedan 87.482 Chrysler 200
63 Buick Skyhawk 85.639 0
64 Plymouth Horizon 84.500 0
65 Volkswagen Jetta 82.883 131.109 38
66 Toyota Celica 80.480 10.507 Scion FR-S 193
67 Volkswagen Golf 77.699 65.308 73
68 Mercury Lynx 76.871 0
69 Honda Prelude 75.938 0
70 Mercury Topaz 73.098 0
71 AMC Alliance 71.501 0
72 Dodge Omni 71.473 87.392 Dodge Dart 62
73 Chrysler Lebaron GTS 71.018 Chrysler 200
74 Dodge Ram 50 70.317 0
75 Pontiac Safari 69.049 0
76 Nissan 300ZX 67.409 1.105 Nissan GT-R 255
77 Nissan 240SX 65.792 7.391 Nissan 370Z 210
78 Mazda 323 64.444 107.885 Mazda3 51
79 Nissan Stanza 64.398 333.398 Nissan Altima 9
80 Dodge Ram Van 63.250 28.345 RAM ProMaster 130
81 Chevrolet Suburban 58.906 50.866 97
82 Cadillac Eldorado 58.310 0
83 Toyota Van 57.735 0
84 Honda Civic CRX 57.486 3.073 Honda CR-Z 239
85 Dodge Charger 57.171 Dodge Dart
86 Pontiac Grand Prix 57.153 0
87 Chrysler New Yorker 56.166 53.109 Chrysler 300 92
88 Chevrolet Spectrum 54.293 0
89 BMW 3-Series 53.927 140.609 35
90 Mazda RX-7 53.810 0
91 Pontiac Bonneville 52.972 0
92 Volvo 200-Series 52.851 24.124 Volvo 60-series
93 Plymouth Turismo 52.817 0
94 Isuzu Pickup 52.305 0
95 Ford Bronco 52.281 0
96 Chrysler Laser 50.957 0
97 Nissan Pulsar NX 49.816 0
98 Dodge Lancer 49.615 Dodge Dart
99 Oldsmobile Firenza 49.580 0
100 Dodge Daytona 49.533 0
101 Volvo 700-Series 49.454 1.887 Volvo S80 248
102 Buick Riviera 48.834 0
103 Audi 5000 47.766 22.850 Audi A6 146
104 GMC S-15 Sonoma 46.953 30.077 GMC Canyon 127
105 Chevrolet Tahoe 46.298 88.342 61
106 Toyota Cressida 45.290 Toyota Camry
107 Chevrolet Citation 43.677 Chevrolet Cruze
108 GMC S-15 Jimmy 42.239 112.030 GMC Terrain 49
109 Cadillac Brougham 41.269 Cadillac XTS
110 GMC Vandura 40.607 21.992 GMC Savana 149
111 Dodge Ram Wagon 40.095 RAM ProMaster
112 Dodge Colt 39.724 0
113 AMC Encore 39.172 0
114 Chevrolet Corvette 37.956 33.329 118
115 Jeep CJ 37.956 202.702 Jeep Wrangler 22
116 Saab 900 37.448 0
117 Plymouth Colt 36.491 0
118 Plymouth Caravelle 35.954 0
119 Chevrolet Nova 35.594 Chevrolet Sonic
120 Dodge Diplomat 34.919 0
121 Toyota MR2 32.309 0
122 Oldsmobile Toronado 32.093 0
123 Ford Club Wagon 31.575 Ford Transit
124 Dodge 600 30.758 0
125 Chevrolet Metro 30.567 Chevrolet Sonic
126 Ford Aerostar 30.324 0
127 Dodge Ramcharger 29.325 64.186 Dodge Durango 77
128 Cadillac Seville 29.034 19.485 Cadillac CTS 158
129 Lincoln Continental 27.679 30.901 Lincoln MKZ 126
130 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 27.129 21.934 150
131 Isuzu Trooper II 25.844 0
132 Mercedes-Benz 190 25.453 86.080 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 63
133 GMC Safari 24.892 0
134 Dodge 400 24.572 Dodge Dart
135 Mitsubishi Mighty Max 24.032 0
136 Cadillac Cimarron 23.754 26.873 Cadillac ATS 133
137 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 23.714 49.736 99
138 Toyota Supra 23.569 9 Lexus LFA 277
139 Pontiac T1000 22.424 0
140 Audi 4000 22.246 31.831 Audi A4 123
141 Chevrolet El Camino 21.816 0
142 Chevrolet Sportvan 21.005 0
143 BMW 5-series 20.168 44.162 103
144 Lincoln Mark VII 19.853 Lincoln MKZ
145 Toyota 4Runner 18.878 97.034 56
146 Ford EXP 17.927 0
147 GMC Suburban 17.888 31.334 GMC Yukon XL 125
148 Plymouth Gran Fury 17.627 0
149 Jeep Grand Wagoneer 17.509 0
150 Porsche 944 16.834 3.561 Porsche Cayman 236
151 Jaguar XJ 16.744 3.611 235
152 Volkswagen Vanagon 16.296 0
153 Mercury Capri 15.389 0
154 Peugeot 505 15.284 0
155 Isuzu Impulse 14.173 0
156 Jeep Wagoneer 14.102 0
157 Volkswagen Quantum 13.865 78.207 Volkswagen Passat 67
158 Volkswagen Scirocco 13.528 0
159 Subaru XT 13.283 5.296 Subaru BRZ 223
160 Mitsubishi Mirage 13.066 21.515 152
161 Mitsubishi Sigma 12.766 0
162 Isuzu I-Mark 12.761 0
163 AMC Eagle 12.740 0
164 Volkswagen Cabriolet 12.564 2.993 Volkswagen Eos 240
165 Dodge Vista 12.023 0
166 Plymouth Vista 11.588 0
167 Mitsubishi Tredia 10.902 0
168 Subaru Sedan 10.823 100.519 Subaru Impreza 54
169 Mercedes-Benz SL 10.604 4.060 232
170 BMW 7-series 9.935 9.292 197
171 Jeep Comanche 9.557 0
172 GMC K5 Jimmy / Yukon 9.094 42.732 GMC Yukon 106
173 Merkur XR4 8.974 0
174 Mitsubishi Cordia 8.159 0
175 Porsche 911 5.890 9.858 195
176 Mitsubishi Starion 4.841 0
177 Toyota Land Cruiser 100 4.740 2.687 242
178 Renault Fuego 4.731 0
179 Subaru Brat 4.075 0
180 Ford Taurus 4.056 48.816 100
181 Subaru Hatchback 4.004 88.927 Subaru XV Crosstrek 60
182 Yugo 3.895 0
183 BMW 6-series 3.825 8.146 203
184 Jaguar XJS 3.784 4.629 Jaguar F-Type 229
185 Audi Coupe 3.611 1.167 Audi TT 254
186 Alfa Romeo Spider 3.450 663 Alfa Romeo 4C 260
187 Dodge Conquest 2.716 66.365 Dodge Challenger 72
188 Mitsubishi Montero 2.707 0
189 Plymouth Conquest 2.671 Dodge Challenger
190 Suzuki Samurai 2.646 0
191 GMC Caballero 2.605 0
192 Porsche 928 2.582 4.985 Porsche Panamera 227
193 Renault 18i 2.474 0
194 Mercury Sable 2.430 0
195 Jeep Pickup 1.974 0
196 Jeep Scrambler 1.414 0
197 Chrysler E-Class 1.247 Chrysler 200
198 Alfa Romeo GTV-6 1.052 0 Alfa Romeo 4C
199 Pontiac Phoenix 896 0
200 Saab 9000 795 0
201 Audi Quattro 71 0

Source: BSCB

About Bart Demandt

Bart is a 36-year old Dutchman who’s always had a thing for cars, the automotive industry and statistics. He’s combined these passions by writing about them on CarSalesBase.com. His daily driver is an Alfa Romeo GT 3.2 V6 which he just can’t seem to say goodbye to thanks to the mesmerizing exhaust note.
You can find all his articles Here.

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