AUTOS: The Impact of the Compacts

Wheeled into Manhattan's Coliseum last week was the largest number of foreign cars ever assembled for New York's International Auto Show. To the fourth annual show, 86 automakers from ten nations sent 311 cars. Fancy or functional, the cars were impressive—but still, there was a note of apprehension in the air.

Salesmen had plenty to talk about. For the first time since their introduction to the U.S. in 1950, West Germany's beetle-backed Porsches ($3,600 to $8,000) have undergone major restyling, now have distinct front fenders, higher bumpers. Russia's Moskvitch and Volga made their...

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