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Sydney motor show opens without big names.

Editorial Staff

Holden says you'll be able to buy its electric car in 2012; Renault and Skoda both bring new mid-size SUV's, Mazda shows it's frankly startling Taiki concept car and the industry says it expects to sell one car for every twenty people in Australia in the next year. But some big names don't think it's worth making the trip.

No Mercedes, BMW or Bentley manufacturers' stands at Darling Harbour. General Motors is out in force and Chrysler and Ford both have significant presences, as to Toyota, Honda, Renault-Nissan, Peugeot-Citroen and VW with multi-brand presences for all of them. Suzuki, Izusu, Hyundai and Kia are also there.

But of perhaps more interest is not who is not there, nor the big few but the host of relatively small manufacturers that have made the trip. For Sydney 2008 will be remembered as the year that Australia got a thorough dose of sports cars.

Lotus, Pagani, Morgan, Lamborghini, Mitsubishi and Subaru, Bufori, Ferrari have flown from across the world - and indigenous manufacturer's Elfin (a modern take on the Lotus 7 plus other lightweight street-racers), HSV don't make cars, but they do build them: this is the company that makes Holden racing cars race. In fact HSV stands for Holden Special Vehicles - it's what Ford used to have RS for and in Aus has Ford Performance Vehicles. Holden expects to beat Ford in this weekend's most exciting road race, the Bathurst 1,000. Toyota Racing Development is showing the mundane with super twiddly bits. Porsche tuner Gemballa shows its go-faster bits, and fully modified cars.

But it's manufacturers like Koenigsegg that are the real surprises: this small Swedish company makes outstanding and very expensive sports cars - the CCXR delivers around 20% more power on biofuel than on 97 octane petrol. That gives it 1018bhp. That's more than a Formula One car. A lot more.

Eyes will be on the end-of-show auction when many classic cars, many rust free due to the arid climate in much of Australia and mostly right hand drive come under the hammer. But rust won't be a factor for one of the stars: a Lotus 240R Roadster with an estimate of around AUD100,000.