New car registrations last year were the third highest ever with a record set for December sales, according to latest industry figures.
Total 2000 registrations reached 2,221,647 units (1999: 2,197,615), while record December sales saw a 27.5% rise on last year to 107,803.
Private sales lead the way over fleet and business, 42.3% up in December.
Christopher Macgowan declared the registrations a "massive vote of confidence for the industry by UK car buyers.
"The industry needed a boost and strong competition in the last quarter helped registrations top the previous year, making 2000 the third highest on record. We can look forward to 2001 with renewed optimism and reflect on a millennium year that ended with a bang, not the whimper some people had been predicting," Mr Macgowan said.
The strong competition manifested itself in list price cuts, better specified products and longer warranties.
The SMMT predicts a 2001 registration total of 2,250,000 units or "modest" growth.
The highest total on record was in 1989 with 2,300,944 units, second was 1998 with 2,247,402.
Highlights of the latest SMMT data:
Richard Wright, Ford of Britain sales director, said of the brand's achievement as new car market leader for the 24th consecutive year, 22nd as the top-selling LCV range and 35th successive year as the medium commercial vehicle leader: "2000 was a landmark year."
"Following success with our 'Cashback' programmes during last summer, in October we introduced an outstanding package of new benefits to British consumers with recommended on-the-road prices for the majority of our new car models reduced from between 5% and 13.1% plus a new three year/60,000 mile warranty on all new Ford cars supplied by Ford. This innovative step has helped us consolidate our leadership position in the British market," Mr Wright.
The top 10 selling cars in December were the Ford Focus (6,335 units), Vauxhall Astra (4,673), Vauxhall Vectra (4,534), Ford Fiesta (4,301), Ford Mondeo (3,890), Renault Megane (3,503), Peugeot 206 (3,492), Volkswagen Golf (3,159), Vauxhall Corsa (2,897) and Fiat Punto (2,617).
The top 10 selling cars in 2000 were the Ford Focus (114,512 units), Vauxhall Astra (93,263), Ford Fiesta (91,783), Vauxhall Corsa (84,514), Peugeot 206 (80,991), Vauxhall Vectra (70,704), Ford Mondeo (69,377), Renault Megane (64,666), Renault Clio (61,209) and Volkswagen Golf (57,359).