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2005 Los Angeles Auto Show Wrap-up

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With the Detroit show getting the majority of the media's attention, I can understand if it was difficult for the Los Angeles show organizers to get all of the manufacturers onboard this year. But c'mon, there were no Japanese manufacturer debuts. Nada. In a California market that loves its Hondas and Toyotas, what's up with that?

Except for a two-dimensional design competition asking what the "Ultimate LA Machine" would be from California-based design studios, it was crickets on the concept front as well. All of the show cars, like the Dodge Slingshot or Chevy Nomad, we've seen before.

You know it's a lame show when one of the highlights is a special edition of the soon-to-be-replaced Jaguar XK.

Hopefully when the L.A. show moves to its new November date in 2006 it will be able to carve out its own space with the car manufacturer's PR folks.

Until then, if you like production iron, then you'll love L.A.!:

Bentley Arnage Drophead Coupe

Sales of the Bentley GT coupé are going through the roof with the brand's global volume estimated to reach 6,000 in 2004. Time to celebrate, and what better way than a ragtop. Officially, this two-door convertible is still a concept, but with the imminent Rolls Phantom-based cabriolet, parent Volkswagen is hoping this image-enhancing Bentley can make production next year. Based on the current Arnage sedan - not the new VW engineered GT coupe - this four-seater is definitely "old school Bentley" with its 6.8-litre, 450-horsepower twin-turbo vee-eight, and would be Bentley's first open-air model since the Azure was canned in 2003.

ON SALE: Spring 2006
ESTIMATED PRICE: If you have to askS
FUTURE COMPETITORS: Mercedes CL, Ferrari Superamerica, Rolls Royce 100 EX

2005 BMW M3 Competition

For those North Americans who pined for the European-only M3 CSL (Competition Sport Light), this is as close as we can get to what will be the ultimate E46 M3. The Competition Package can be had with the optional Sequential Manual tranny, but you really want the standard six-speed stick, right? Other goodies include a quicker steering ratio, tauter suspension settings and 19-inch wheels and tires. The Dynamic Stability Control system (which includes a less-intrusive M track mode) and brakes with compound and cross-drilled rotors, both come directly from the Euro M3 CSL. For Canadian drivers, the regular DSC mode remains. Potentially, the best handling M3 ever. However that's up to you and your favourite track to confirm.

ESTIMATED PRICE: The Competition Package carries a $4,000 U.S. premium - you do the math
FUTURE COMPETITORS: Porsche 911 Carrera