DETROIT - Volkswagen wound up in fifth place in the U.S. market in 1970 as imported vehicles locked up their best year in history.
In car sales, VW trailed only Ford, Chevrolet, Plymouth and Pontiac. In car-truck registrations it followed Ford, Chevrolet, Plymouth and Dodge.
Seven of the Top Ten imports set sales records in 1970. In addition to VW, they were Toyota, Datsun, Volvo, MG, Mercedes-Benz and Opel.
The 1960s brought one record after another for Volkswagen. It topped 100,000 car sales for the first time in 1960. It passed 200,000 in 1963 and 300,000 in 1965. VW moved past 400,000 in 1967 and exceeded half a million in 1968.
Now comes a note that only a statistician could love: In the 1960s and 1970s, vans were counted as cars. Thus, VW's Type 2 'breadbox' vans showed up as car sales. Automotive News has since revised those long-ago sales figures to put vans where they belong - with trucks.
For VW, it means 1968 brought record car sales of 512,766 and total car-truck sales of 563,522. In 1970, car sales totaled 504,113, and car-truck deliveries were a record 569,182.
The import segment was strictly a one-horse race in those days. VW had 43 percent of the import-car market in 1970. One thing was certain: No imported car would ever outsell Volkswagen.
But that was in 1970.