Autos: Homebred Mini-Models

After chasing each other around the track for years, Detroit's automakers and their foreign competition now appear to be coming full circle. The U.S. is about to undergo another compact-car race with a brand new generation of minimodels.

When small, low-priced imports took over a 10% share of the domestic auto market in the late 1950s, General Motors fought back with the Corvair, Ford with the Falcon, and Chrysler with the Valiant. So successful were these com pacts that by 1962 the foreign share of the market had dropped to under 5%. Figuring...