With no home-grown auto industry to call its own, Geneva is truly neutral ground for the world's automakers to convene and display their latest hardware. Geneva is the United Nations of international auto shows, with global manufacturers attempting to out-posture, -maneuver, -brag, and -flank their corporate competitors. Almost all of the world's major automakers exhibit here and many of Europe's most noted tuners show off their latest high-performance efforts.

The demise of the Turin show in Italy has left Italy's fabled design houses without their native showcase. This leaves Geneva as their adopted home and all have major premieres -- both concepts and production-based cars and trucks.

Speaking of trucks, it seems that Europeans are having their own love affair with SUVs and multipurpose vehicles, yet all are smaller in size and scope than their U.S. counterparts. While there are more SUVs on display than ever before, when it comes to two-box designs, the traditional station wagon reigns supreme on the continent, being the vehicle of choice in a land where petrol averages about $4.00 per gallon.

While station wagons show the practical side of European tastes, expressive convertibles were evident on several stands. If a trend appears to be developing, it's that retractable hardtops are gaining favor as the cost to manufacture is making them practical for mainstream models. Could this trend appear stateside anytime soon?

Over the next several days, Motor Trend will bring you all the best from Geneva, including vehicles we'll see on our side of the Atlantic and others that will remain guilty pleasures to be savored from afar.

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Jump to the 2004 Geneva Motor Show coverage.