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Auto enthusiasts will find rich browsing in a handsome catalogue of world cars

The slowest modern car now in regular production is the Argentine-built Dinarg D-200, a brisk, stubby little compact which, with its 10.6-horscpower motor wide open, can attain a maximum speed of 49.7 miles per hour. The fastest car is a good deal more familiar to readers of modern sporting literature. It is a Ferrari (model 250 LM, to be exact), which can travel at speeds up to 180 mph and costs $24,400.

These two extremes of modern automotive engineering are given precisely the same amount of space in The Automobile Club of Italy's sumptuous new 588-page World Car Catalogue 1965 (Herald Books, $13.75), along with details on the speed, engine capacity, fuel consumption and other features of the 600-odd cars now being manufactured in 23 countries. Here is the Daffodil LE, for instance, made in Holland, propelled by an air-cooled, two-cylinder, 30-hp engine, and costing $1,694 in the U.S. About 20,000 of these Daffodils are made annually. Here, too, is the Maserati two-seater saloon—six cylinders, 270 hp, 152.2 mph maximum speed, U.S. price $12,000—made by Officine Alfieri Maserati in Modena, Italy, where 312 employees turned out 420 Maseratis in 1963. Here are the luxurious Swiss-built Enzmann; the trim YIN of Nationalist China, which looks like a small Mercedes; the handsome Sabra sports convertible, made in Israel; the practical-looking TZ Sider, made in Spain; the Skoda of Czechoslovakia (56,000 produced in 1963); the Dong Feng of Red China (no production figures available); the Warszawa of Poland; the Zaporozhets of Russia—plus the Fords, Cadillacs, Chevrolets, Plymouths, Ramblers, Volkswagens, Rolls-Royces and other more familiar makes.

Arranged in alphabetical order, they vividly demonstrate the way automaking has spread over the globe since Henry Ford produced the first Model T in 1908. The data in World Car Catalogue 1965 were put together by a staff of six in Rome. They worked entirely from questionnaire answers submitted by motormakers everywhere, using "other reliable sources" only when firsthand information was incomplete or did not arrive on time: "The technical information collected here may be considered official," says the Foreword. Since The Automobile Club of Italy is itself a semi-official organization, the book is the most authoritative work of the sort ever published. Since it contains more than a thousand photographs, 74 of them in color, it is also the best-looking. The Italian edition, now in its fourth year, has yet to make a profit. The edition in English, distributed in the U.S. by Herald Books of Bronxville, N.Y., may just possibly do so. "This book is meant not only for manufacturers, mechanics and other people working with automobiles," said Sergio D'Angelo, the editor of World Car Catalogue, "but for car buffs. They can find in it everything they want to know about every foreign and domestic car."

The most expensive cars are the Ferrari 500 Superfast and the Ferrari 250 LM: $24,400. U.S. prices are way down in comparison with such listings as $16,355 for the Bentley S3, or $13,750 for the Aston Martin DB5, or $13,086 for the Maserati Spider, the highest price for a U.S. car being $9,960 for Cadillac's Fleetwood 75.

U.S. prices are given for 502 cars. Most of these (249) are in the price range between $2,000 and $3,000. The lowest-priced car in the catalogue is the Fiat 600 D ($1,262), followed by the Skoda Octavia ($1,315) and the Daffodil Standard ($1,489).

Biggest car in the book is the Russian-made Zil. This massive limousine has a 148.03-inch wheelbase. Next longest are the Rolls-Royce Phantom and the Bentley with 144 inches and fourth is the Daimler with 138. But there is no end of such items for automobile fans in World Car Catalogue. Cars are indexed for engine capacity, for example. The smallest is the Dinarg (11.65 cubic inches); the biggest is the Lincoln Continental (430 cubic inches). The cars are indexed according to their speeds as well. Of the 128 automobiles in the world with maximum speeds of more than 120 mph, 71 are American. There are no freaks or oddities in the book, unless one counts the West German Amphicar (U.S. list price $2,770), which has a 43-hp motor, "a watertight body for amphibious use," and gets 24.5 miles per gallon on the ground and 39.2 miles per gallon on water.

The paradox of World Car Catalogue 1965 is that automakers in countries other than Italy largely dominate the book. U.S. cars, especially in the middle brackets, seem impressive when they are viewed in perspective with those of the rest of the world. This prompted one skeptical Roman observer to ask why The Automobile Club of Italy, in addition to running parking lots, operating emergency towing services and issuing drivers' permits, should also sponsor a money-losing catalogue of world cars. One reason, however, is evident. The interest of the general reader in World Car Catalogue 1965 is likely to be in sports cars, and in this area the Italian makes are impressive. The dazzling color photographs of such gems as a blue Pininfarina body on a Chevrolet Sting Ray, or a magnificent lemon-yellow Ferrari Berlinetta, or a silver Lamborghini are substantial endorsements of Italian prestige in the automobile world.