300,000 miles from a car; armchair showroom tour; World Cars 1980, published by the Automobile Club of Italy. Pelham, N.Y.: Herald Books. $33.95.

Put out once a year, "World Cars" is a fascinating "tour" for the car buff, or even for the ordinary motorist who may be bored with his standard commuter-type car.

The book has it all: From A to Z -- Alpine to Zil. More than a thousand models from 34 countries, both East and West, ride through the pages of the book in a stunning array of shapes, sizes, and power trains.

Everyone knows the Japanese are into automobiles in a big way. But how about India or Israel or Nigeria? Korea, for example, has a thriving car industry which may give the Japanese some competitive trouble in the next few years.

Innovations get star billing between the pages. If a car company -- even mighty General Motors -- is not innovative these days, it's headed for major problems down the road. Just ask Chrysler and Ford.

The quest for improved fuel economy is a fast teacher, carmakers agree.

Whil the price is high -- and this is perhaps the biggest objection to the book -- so is the cost of a subway ride today. But if it has wheels, you can go for a ride for $33.95.

Among the cars are a Suzuki Alto hatchback, priced at a mere $1,950 -- although you can't buy it in the United States -- or a Stutz Royale Limousine -- are you ready? -- for $235,000.

A hint of the future, the book takes a look at no fewer than 48 electric passenger cars from four continents.

Look for more electrics on the road by the mid-1980s. They'll all be in future editions of "World Cars 198?."

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