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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 July 2006, 07:45 GMT 08:45 UK
UK motor show arrives in London
By Jorn Madslien
Business reporter, BBC News, at the London Motor Show

Motor Show poster
By moving to London, organisers hope to attract more carmakers
For the first time in three decades, the British International Motor Show is returning to London.

The most important UK motoring event moved from Birmingham after more and more manufacturers failed to turn up to display their cars.

UK marques Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley and Rolls-Royce all launch significant models, while BMW marks its return with a super-fast M6 convertible.

But several leading carmakers will stay away, including Ferrari, Porsche, Fiat, Volkswagen and Audi.

World and UK premieres

The main showstopper will be Jaguar's 420bhp supercharged GT, which will be vying for attention with the UK premieres of the Rolls-Royce 101EX concept car and Bentley's Continental GTC convertible.

Some colourful surprises start the London Motor show

And there are also some world premieres, including Land Rover's tough new Freelander, Vauxhall's new Corsa, and BMW's M6 cabriolet, which might even give the topless Bentley a run for its money.

Other global debuts include the convertible sportscar Mazda MX-5 - though this time with a retractable roof rather than a canvas top - the Seat Leon Cupra and the new Honda Civic Type S and Type R.

"For the first time since 1998, we have significant world debuts at the British Show," according to the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Christopher Macgowan.

"That helps bring global chief executives to the UK, which in turn boosts the show's profile in the media and industry."

Convincing car makers to show off their cars in Britain before they take them to shows elsewhere has always been seen as vital to maintain interest in the UK show.

In recent years, Britain has been losing out to much larger shows in Geneva, Paris and Frankfurt. However, this year promises to be different.

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