The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said that 172,094 new cars were registered in November 2004 – 1.8% more than in November 2003, and the second-highest November figure ever.
Sales for the January-November 2004 period are now just 682 fewer than those in the first 11 months of 2003.
SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan says: "November’s new car market was the second-largest on record, boosting registrations towards a fourth consecutive record annual total.
"While the December market is difficult to predict, 156,135 new cars would see another record total. With Christmas coming, it remains to be seen if enough people have a new car on their gift list."
Registrations for new cars in the UK reached a high of 2,579,050 in 2003, up from 2,563,631 in 2002 and 2,458,769 in 2001.
Diesel sales increased again last month, with their market share rising to 36.9%.
So far this year multi-purpose vehicles, sports cars and 4x4s have shown the best growth rates.
The Ford Focus was the best-selling model in November.
MG Rover, which has recently seen sales slide dramatically, had a comparatively good month, with its market share down only 1.72% on November 2003.
The best-selling cars in November were:
1. Ford Focus
2. Vauxhall Astra
3. Renault Megane
4. Peugeot 206
5. Volkswagen Golf
6. Ford Fiesta
7. Vauxhall Corsa
8. Peugeot 307
9. Ford Mondeo
10. Renault Clio