At the end of the day, every mass-market automaker is nothing more than a company looking for profits. And while you can have a great-looking vehicle that performs well and draws critical acclaim, but if it doesn't sell and it doesn't have decent margins, it doesn't do the company much good. So when it comes down to pure profit, what automobiles are the biggest cash cows?

That's what analyst Max Warbuton aimed to find out. With the help of his team at Bernstein Research, Warbuton looked at the automotive population and created this list of the twelve best money-makers since 1990. According to Automotive News, Warbuton said the top twelve cars and trucks all combine "high prices, huge volume and long periods of production that spread development costs over a long period." While we might quibble that not all of the entries are high in price, the volume side of Warburton's equation makes a lot of sense, especially considering that the Number One most profitable vehicle of all time is – glance back up at the lead image once more – the Ford F-Series.

F-150 aside, all of the American full-size pickups did particularly well in this study, with the Ram 1500 and General Motors twins (Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra) filling out the second and third place spots. (No surprise, given that body-on-frame vehicles like pickups and SUVs are known to be cash cows). German and Japanese automakers round out the top twelve, and we urge you to click through our attached image gallery to see exactly which vehicles have been raking in the most cash for their companies over the past 21 years.