Considering the strong performance by most automakers in November it might be easy to downplay the numbers from Volkswagen AG. After all, the maker reported a gain of “only” 29% for the month, less than half the increase of little Subaru.
It was, nonetheless, the best VW has done in nearly four decades – since November 1973, to be more precise – when the original Beetle was still the most successful import product in the U.S. market and names like Toyota, Nissan and Honda were barely on the radar for American car buyers.
Things would change rapidly in the mid to late-1970s. Buoyed by the sudden surge in demand for high-mileage products in the wake of twin Mideast oil shocks, Japanese makers rapidly gained traction. VW tried to fight back with the little Rabbit but its early success was short-circuited by higher prices and lower quality, twin problems that nearly sank the German maker.