Automotive Book Review

The Standard Catalog of Imported Cars, 1946-2002 is an excellent reference book for the classic car enthusiast that is interested in imported vehicles. It is part of a series of automotive reference books from Krause Publications, and is intended to be a car collector’s guide. The book covers all of the different makes and models of post-war cars that were officially imported into the United States, as well as some makes that made their way across the water “unofficially”.

The Standard Catalog of Imported Cars, 1946-2002 is set up like an encyclopedia, with the car makes listed in alphabetical order. Each section starts out with a general history of the make, and then each make is split up by year and then by model. For an automotive enthusiast, it is fascinating to read about the history of these car companies and their offerings, some of which you may have never seen or heard of! Several times I have seen a car I had never heard of at a car show, and came home to read up on it in my Standard Catalog.

For each year listed under a car make, there is a history of each individual model that was offered, detailing the major changes to each model for that year and providing commentary on performance, styling, or any technological advances. Then it lists production numbers for each model split out by body style (when available), shipping weight, and original base price. Digging deeper, the book provides base and optional engine sizes, horsepower and torque ratings, wheelbase and other dimensions, transmission offerings, and even gear ratios for some cars! Vehicle performance data such as acceleration numbers and top speed are also listed for many models. Photos of each year and model are included for many makes.

The amount of information and the detail level provided is staggering overall. However, there are a few “holes” in the listings. For example, for a couple of Japanese makes, there are specific models that are missing from certain years of the eighties and early nineties listings. I did find it puzzling that the book has so much detail on some of the European makes from the fifties and sixties, yet the information on (again) some eighties and nineties Japanese makes is a little sparse, and a couple of these models don’t have a single photo for a whole range of years.

All in all, the Standard Catalog of Imported Cars, 1946-2002 is a great reference manual even with it’s shortcomings on some of the Japanese models. The information provided on classic sports cars and exotic cars is tremendous. It is definitely worth a look if you are interested in imported antique cars.