10. Chevy Impala (1958 – )
> Sales: 14 million
> Parent: General Motors (NYSE: GM)
> Price: $25,760 (most recent)
> Type: mid-priced V6 coupe
GM, the world’s largest car company, only has one vehicle on the list of the best-selling cars in history. That is probably because GM is a holding company with a number of brands. The Impala is also unique on the list because it is a fairly large 2-door coupe. It was even built with a huge 8-cylinder engine for a period, which made it the equivalent of many sports cars. In the early 1960s, Chevy added a 4-door model to increase the appeal of the vehicle to people who wanted a roomier backseat. The versatility of the Impala was broadened when most early models came in both hardtop and convertible. The car has been through 10 generations of major upgrades. The most recent will be offered as a 2014 model. The 2-door version of the Impala, which was the only model of its first generation, is gone.
9. Passat (1973 – )
> Sales: 15.5 million
> Parent: Volkswagen
> Price: $19,995 (most recent)
> Type: mid-priced 5 cylinder 4 door
The Passat has a 5-cylinder engine, rare among cars. It provides relatively good fuel mileage along with moderate acceleration. The Passat is priced just above the Jetta sedan and below the VW CC turbo sedan. The Passat is an unusual car because the product sold in the U.S. is very similar to the one sold by Shanghai Volkswagen Automotive in China, the world’s largest car market. VW has placed a great deal of its emphasis on the Passat, hoping it would help it grow its modest U.S. sales. The car competes with a number of mid-sized sedans sold by the Big Three and major Japanese manufacturers. VW understands that the sale of sedans, which can be used by both individual drivers and families, is critical if it is to enlarge its market share.
8. Model T (1908 – 1927)
> Sales: 16.5 million
> Parent: Ford
> Price: $260 (1920s)
> Type: first mass-production sedan
The Model T is as well known for what it did for American manufacturing as what it did for American consumers. Henry Ford created the modern assembly line to make the Model T. The demand for the car, which was inexpensive by early 20th century standards, spurred Ford’s founder to set up a factory system so cars could move from one workstation to the next with a worker at each station adding one major part to the car. The assembly line allowed Ford to employ thousands of people in its Detroit area factories at relatively high wages. The other major effect of the Model T is that it made car owners out of millions of Americans. The early versions of the car sold for well under $1,000, later versions sold for under $300.
7. Accord (1976 – )
> Sales: 17.5 million
> Parent: Honda
> Price: $21,380 (most recent)
> Type: inexpensive 4 cylinder mid-sized sedan
The Accord is Honda’s mid-sized car. It is larger and more expensive than the Civic, but less expensive than the Japanese car company’s line of crossovers and hybrids. The Accord benefited from the rise in oil and gas prices in the early 1970s. It was first sold in Japan and then imported to the U.S. It was one of the first Japanese cars built in the America, beginning in 1981. The car has been so successful that it has gone through nine generations of upgrades and changes, the most recent for the 2013 model year. The base car of each generation has had a 4-cylinder engine at, or under, 2 liters to ensure fuel efficiency. Like many of the least expensive sedans sold by all of the major car companies, the Accord can be purchased with a number of options and even an upgraded 6-cylinder engine for more power and acceleration. The top-of-the-line Accord has a base price of nearly $30,000.
6. Civic (1972 – )
> Sales: 18.5 million
> Parent: Honda (NYSE: HMC)
> Price: $15,605 (most recent)
> Type: inexpensive 4-cylinder sedan
Before the Civic’s 1972 debut, Honda was primarily known for its motorcycles. The car is now one of the most popular models in America. The Civic is Honda’s low-end, light-weight, fuel-efficient offering. The base model sells for only $15,605, gets 39 MPG on the highway, and has a 4-cylinder engine. Honda offers customers of the Civic a large number of features, which can increase the price of the car. But Honda keeps a common platform to save money. There are currently hybrid models of the car, and one that operates on natural gas. The natural gas version, with a few options, sells for more than $30,000. The Civic is another example of a tiny, fuel-efficient car that gained sales traction in the U.S. when fuel prices soared in the early 1970s. The basic car has been modified and substantially upgraded nine times since the first Civic came off the assembly line.