There are car shows, and there are car SHOWS. We’ve used capitals in this case as we’re talking SEMA. The Speciality Equipment Market Association holds a massive get together once a year and has done so since 1963 after a number of automotive aftermarket parts makers, including Dean Moon and Vic Edelbrock saw a niche that needed filling.
It’s grown every year and now brings together nearly 6,400 companies to showcase their wares. The show itself is only open to those in the industry, not to the public, and its quasi-motorsport roots are shown in the original name, Speed Equipment Manufacturing Association.
Makers gather under one roof in Los Vegas, Nevada, with the 2019 event seeing some unusual joinings and events.
Electric power for cars and trucks is slowly making its way into the mainstream. Chevrolet showcased a crate motor with a difference, with their “E-10” crate electric engine. A pair of them were bolted into a 1970s pickup, effectively saying that although the source might be electric, the crate engine history continues.
Hyundai’s quirky Veloster was given a severe makeover, with the concept Veloster Grappler being fitted out for camping and off-roading. Solar panels and LED light bars, chunky off-road tyres and a hatch hut, plus a roof mounted storage basket added some extra visual wow factor to the Veloster’s slinky lines.
The RTR Rambler Ford Ranger Concept looks like something “the good ol’ boys” from Hazzard County might drive in 2020. A customised grille has integrated LED driving lights and a solid looking front bar, plus a light encrusted roll bar above the front seats. A snorkel sits outside the right side front window for deep wading breathing, and a pair of separate steps for front and rear passengers allow easy access. Off-road cred comes from the massive 33 inch Nitto Ridge Grappler rubber and RTR Tech 6 alloys for heavy duty mud mauling.
Honda went back to the future with a melding of modern motorcycle and history. A classic N600, one of the first of the small cars Honda sold to get a toehold was fitted with a 12,000rpm capable 800c VFR V-4 motorcycle engine. Although it may seem an odd couple meld, Japan is well known for producing high revving engines in cars with sporting pretensions, and SEMA is an ideal location to show off another concept.
American Motors Corporation is perhaps best known for producing a car that only a mother could love. The Gremlin was an, ahem, unusually styled three door hatch and built during a large portion of the 1970s. A sister car, the Pacer, was used in the iconic “Wayne’s World” movies. One particular Gremlin was given the drag treatment. A massively reworked body, some faaaaaat rubber, and a splash or three of chrome around the body and supercharged V8 make this a SEMA example to admire.
Convertibles make for easy access to tousling hair, getting some rays, man, and blending stylish good looks with open or closed roof driving. SEMA 2019 saw a very unusual subject and one that may have put some noses out of joint in The Old Dart. A slammed, widened, and reprofiled Rolls-Royce convertible was given a makeover in colour for the body, wheels, and the fabric roof. A standout? Oh, yes.
Carroll Shelby will be long remembered for his waving of a magic automotive wand over Ford products, with his surname gracing the metal of many Mustang based offerings. SEMA 2019 saw yet another and this was in the form of an 800 ponies dragstrip ready version. The Shelby GT500 Dragon Snake evokes the car of the same name from the 1960s.
Our last entry in a list of far too many we could have included was a Dodge Challenger that made an impact. A real impact as in hitting a police car and concrete. Quintin Brothers Auto and Performance had a truck filled with 1,000 horsepowers worth of modified Challenger. The truck was stolen just days before the 2019 SEMA but thanks to video surveillance the truck and car were tracked.
The “perp” made a desparate attempt at a getaway, smashing the Challenger into a police vehicle then through a fence that bordered a go-kart track. The track was occupied at the time, mind you. Thankfully the local LEO’s snared the crook and the team showcased their modified Challenger at SEMA, battle damage and all.
If you’re in the industry and have been to SEMA, we’d love to hear your story. Drop us a line via a blog and social media feedback links.