Books on transportation; Rabbit-Dasher-Scirocco-Jetta, Guide to the New VWs, by Paul Weissler. Blue Ridge Summit, Pa: Tab Books Inc. $6.95.

Back in the 1960s and early '70s a spate of books about the friendly, even if laughable, volkswagen beetle hit the stands. Indeed, it was easy to laugh withm the beetle, bot atm it, even though it did have its detractors.

Even so, the "ugly duckling" VW ultimately did pass Henry Ford's venerable and black-painted Model T as the "most produced car" in automotive history -- far more than the 15 million Ford Model T's that came off the line over a 15 -year time span.

But like eveything else mechanical, however, the old VW bug finally had to give up the race, a victim of the times, including toughening safety and emissions standards around the world and the changing tastes of the new generation of car buyers.

Enter the Rabbit (Polo, a smaller version of the Rabbit not sold in the US), Scirocco, and finally the notchback Jetta. Even a new-style Dasher is being sold in Western Europe even though it won't reach the US till later this year.

This book tells the story of the new-era Volkswagen cars. The author, Paul Weissler is a New York-based journalist who has been following the up-and-down fortunes of VW since 1959 and, in his own words, "has driven tens of thousands of miles in every VW ever built."

It is designed not only for the VW enthusiast but for the weekend mechanic as well.

In coming out with its new breed of cars, the West German manufacturer had to dump its entire notion of how an automobile should be designed and built. It swithced form the air-cooled, rear-engine-rear-drive configuration of the bug to the front-engine-front-drive, water-cooled design of the Rabbit -- a revolution of no small magnitude.

The author goes into laborious detail on how the new VW engines work, plus their adjustment and repair as required. Simply, he tells you, with illustrations, how to service your own front-wheel-drive VW.

To show how VW values the US market, the West German carmaker now builds all its US-sold Rabbits, both gasoline-fueld and diesel, sedans, and trucks (except the convertible) in western Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. But you don't have to go to the VW factory to learn more about the cars.

by Paul Wiessler. (Perhaps the editor should be told that the word accommodatem has two m's.)

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