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World Cars 1983, compiled by the Automobile Club of Italy. Pelham, N.Y.: Herald Books. $39.95. Automobil Revue, published by Automobil Revue, Switzerland's first motoring weekly. Bern, Switzerland: 28 Swiss francs; 32 West German marks.

No matter what the car is - big, midsize, or small; high-priced or low; popular or obscure - it probably finds a place in these exhaustive catalogs of things automotive.

''World Cars'' lists more than 1,000 models from 35 countries, including cars from such places as Turkey and China, Nigeria and Ecuador. Besides at least one picture of each car, the entries include price, performance data, and specifications on the engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, steering, dimensions, and weight.

The problem with the Swiss-produced book is that it comes in only two languages, German and French. Ultimately, it is hoped, it will be produced in English as well.

''Automobil Revue'' is jampacked with solid data, but without a serviceable grasp of either French or German, the text is of limited value. Many of the figures, however, make sense in the context.

Unlike ''World Cars,'' the Swiss book contains dozens of pages of advertising , much of it amusing and even informative, no matter the language in which it is written. I came across one ad - a Polish car - written in English.

The color photos in both books are particularly well done.

If you've ever wondered about the electric car, ''World Cars'' lists 40, both 4-wheelers and 3-wheelers, from France, Japan, Holland, Italy, Britain, Australia, Switzerland, and the United States. Many of them are experimental.

Another feature is a gallery of special bodies in full color by such designers as Giugiaro of Ital Design, Pininfarina, Bertone, Ghia, Frua, and Dome.

Trivia buffs can have a field day with either book.

The publisher of ''Automobil Revue'' can be reached at Automobil Revue, Vertriebsabteilung, Nordring 4, CH-3001, Bern, Switzerland.

Meanwhile, what's a Donkervoort or a Zil? The Donkervoort is built in Holland , the Zil in the USSR. And the Fairlady? That's the name of the Nissan-built Z-car in Japan.

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