US Car Sales And Market Share By Brand And Model Category, 1946 – 1975 – A CC Exclusive Database

(for full-size view of this spreadsheet, click the furthest right icon (“View full size workbook”) on the menu bar directly above) 

I’ve been working on this spreadsheet on and off for some years now, because this information was not readily available anywhere else. The model year production stats for any given entry (by model size/type) were compiled manually by adding the individual trim/model/body type stats in the Standard Encyclopedia of American Cars. For historical analysis, it’s vastly more useful to have these numbers by model category (i.e. Full Size Chevrolet; Falcon; etc.).

Here are some notes and disclaimers:


This spreadsheet was compiled as a tool for the historical analysis of sales of various brands, makes, lines and types of passenger cars. My version  goes through 1996, to support my post “Who Killed The Big American Car“, and the large RWD car categories are complete but to date I have only completed all the model categories through 1975. It becomes increasingly complex in the ’80s and ’90s with the proliferation of new models/categories. My next step is to hopefully complete it through 1980, and so on. It’s a work in progress.

All numbers are rounded off to the nearest thousand. Furthermore, since these many individual numbers in the Encyclopedia had to be added manually, I typically rounded all entries up and down to the nearest thousand. This means that the final result may vary slightly from a more detailed calculation.

I expect there may well be errors. They could be simple addition errors or others arising from different breakouts of how this information is compiled and shown in the Encyclopedia. And of course these are all subject to the many qualifications that the Editors of the Standard Encyclopedia of American Cars have noted in their preface.

As to market share, there’s a number of ways to define the market. Prior to 1977, there was the passenger car market and the truck market. But with the proliferation of SUVs and pickups used for personal use, the combined market was redefined in 1977 as the light vehicle market. For this spreadsheet through 1975, I am using only the passenger car market for market share (domestic production less exports). To that I add imports. The total of these tow are on line 220 “Total Passenger Car Market”. Unfortunately, these are not the same as lines 210 and 212, (Domestic Car Market and Net Domestic Car Market). These numbers were sourced from other publications. But the differences are generally quite small and mostly immaterial.

The “Full Size RWD Market Share” is of course limited just to the share of all full size RWD cars.

I have included VW annual sales, and hope to eventually add other popular import brands. They are a subset of all import sales. Also, import sales may include domestic brands built in Canada, which became increasingly common after the Canada-US Auto Pact was signed in 1965. This raises a thorny question: the Encyclopedia does not seem to take this in consideration. Clearly they are not including Canadian domestic production and sales, yet they do seem to include Canadian-built cars sold in the US, like the Pontiac Parisienne. This could make things increasingly complicated in more recent decades, where Canadian-sourced vehicles were imported in substantial numbers. It all gets quite complicated, but these issues are of relatively limited impact in the time period of this spreadsheet.

All of these stats are for model year; unfortunately all-too often calendar year stats — which Wikipedia lists — are mixed up with model year stats.

Note to other web publishers: if you use any of the stats compiled here, please credit the source with a link back to this page. Thanks.