The New York International Auto Show took the time machine route this year. In both directions. Futuristic concepts ranged from ultra-clean engines to designs like the Mitsubishi Miev and Toyota’s (pretty unfortunate) Yaris Five Axis. Most manufacturers, however, were in solid nostalgia mode.

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BMW Concept CS

This was the first time the BMW CS Concept appeared on North American shores. After its world premiere in Shanghai, the concept was so well received that BMW quickly put the CS on a semi-production track.

BMW Concept CS

The car you see here is one vision of an ultra high-end BMW grand tourer—an ultra-exclusive machine to be positioned above the 7-series and below Rolls Royce that will reach the market . . . sometime. It’s on a long timeline, so don’t take out your black American Express card just yet.

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Hyundai put on a bigger show in New York than any other automaker. No, they didn’t have 50 Cent, but they did have two racecar drivers ripping out j-turns indoors at the Javits Center, followed by pyrotechnics, cocktails, and a cover band. But enough about the show and on to the car: Based on a concept revealed last year at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the production Genesis Coupe is a rear-wheel-drive sports car, available with an all-aluminum 300hp DOHC 3.8-liter V6. It’s aimed directly at the Infiniti G37—in fact, it looks a little like a G37 replica—and arrives in Spring 2009.

Nissan Maxima

Now billed as the “4-Door Sports Car,” the redesigned Maxima, which made its world debut at the New York show, is simultaneously larger and sleeker than its predecessor. A 290hp 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 means its performance should match its posture. Inside it’ll be available with most of the accoutrements of the modern mid-level sedan: available dual panel moonroof, 9-speaker Bose sound system, navigation system, and so on.

Nissan Maxima

The Maxima boasts a roomy interior that’s pretty slick for souped-up soccer-dad car.

Volvo XC60

Like the microscopic Infiniti EX-35, the BMW X6 “Sport Activity Coupe,” and the Toyota Venza, a self-proclaimed sport-utility sedan, the Volvo XC60 is a smaller, more civilized variation on the larger XC90—a safety-tech-laden city car with a high profile and the shape of a domesticated rock-crawler. It is to its off-roading forbears what a 10-pound Pomeranian is to its sled-hauling Arctic ancestors. But as a Pomeranian-owning city dweller, I can say that this is not necessarily a bad thing.

2009 Solstice Coupe

We’re skeptical about the claim (made by 50 Cent, of all people, at the Pontiac press conference) that the new Solstice hardtop can meet or beat the Porsche Cayman. But the car looks fantastic, and it doesn’t need to pick a fight with Porsche to be a winner.

2010 Pontiac G8 Sport Truck

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that the undead El Camino drew more curious stares than probably any other car at the show. Except, of course, it’s not called the El Camino—it doesn’t have a name yet, in fact. If you have a suggestion, submit it to

Pontiac “El Camino”

The spacious truck-style backside of the unnamed car.

Dodge Challenger Series

Dodge hosted a special edition of That Seventies Show, starring its new (old) Challenger muscle car. The current line ranges from the 3.5-liter, 250 horsepower SE model to the Jurassic park-style 6.1-liter, 425 horsepower SRT8.

Dodge Challenger SE

The Challenger SE has a 3.5-liter V6 with 250 horsepower and pound-feet of torque.

Dodge Challenger SRT8

The most anticipated Charger was the SRT8 Challenger.

Mercedes M Class BlueTec Diesels

Mercedes is big on diesel. Its BlueTec engines—the first diesel engine in years to meet U.S. clean air standards–will be coming to M line of sport-utility vehicles. And Mercedes claims the M series will get better mileage than gasoline hybrid-powered SUVs. BlueTec is now offered on Mercedes’ GL, M, R and E class cars, “and there are more to come,” promised Mercedes head of research Thomas Weber. (Already 22 percent of all Mercedes cars are diesels.)

BMW M3 Convertible

BMW’s new topless M3 packs a mean punch. The V8 engine produces 24 percent more power than the V6 in previous models, which translates to 414 horsepower and up to 295 pound-feet. It’s the highest-revving BMW of all time, with a redline at 8400 rpm. Specially designed for those high speeds, the 6-speed, twin-clutch transmission shifts gears in a fraction of a second. All this can be yours soon, starting at $65,000.

Nissan Denki Cube

Small is big again. Nissan’s Denki Cube—already puttering around the streets of Japan—will come to the US in Spring 2008. To make a splash, Nissan asked design students from the Pratt Institute to perform a Project Runway on two of the current Japanese models. (Each team had two months and about $1500 to pimp their rides.)

Nissan Denki Cube

Nissan will show the new design for the American Denki model at the LA auto show in November. It will debut as a thrifty gas-powered car (the current Denki runs on a 1.3-liter, 4 cylinder engine.)

Nissan Denki Cube

Nissan also showed a Cube Concept that will go on sale in 2012 sporting a lithium-ion-powered electric motor.