The world as we know it is constantly changing; from Mother Nature’s climate to a new President of the United States of America, when the sun rises, we can expect that today will present us with different opportunities and challenges than we had yesterday.
The same can be said for the automotive aftermarket world we all love so dearly. At the yearly SEMA show, trends come and go, new parts are imagined, created, and unveiled to the world, and the latest and greatest builds are divulged in eye-catching displays of innovation.
The central hub for the automotive aftermarket revolves around the annual SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Nevada. Short for Specialty Equipment Market Association, this event – set in the first week of November each year – combines the newest model releases from both aftermarket and OE automotive industry leaders to create one of the most unique events in the car world. In 2016, SEMA celebrated its 50th anniversary, with attendance eclipsing the 100,000 mark, with buyers from more than 100 different countries checking out the latest and greatest automotive aftermarket advances.
While the main event takes place inside, visitors are treated to a continuous exhibit of motorized madness outside the Convention Center. Professional guest drivers create epic displays of tire smoke and tweak any number of Ford vehicles into sideways slides across the stretch of the front tarmac outside the main halls, in a section of the show called #FordOutFront.
Inside the convention center, the atmosphere is only slightly calmer than the outside insanity, due to the thousands of people squeezing together to navigate the grid of manufacturer booths. Attending manufacturers like Vibrant Performance even set up elaborate vehicle unveilings within the confines of their booth spaces. This year they showcased this intense Pro Street class drag racing truck from Rudy’s Performance Parts.
Once the one-piece carbon fiber front end was removed, the variety of Vibrant goods were exposed and the true fabrication artwork of this triple-turbo 2,000 horsepower diesel race truck was revealed.
The Internet has been in a twist recently, following along with professional drifter Ryan Tuerck’s latest project, as he swapped a Ferrari 458 engine into a drift-ready Toyota 86 chassis aptly named the #GT4586. The car debuted in full trim inside the GoPro booth and was surrounded with an amazed audience throughout the event. The missing hood showed off the massive amount of fabrication work required to complete the car, as both the chassis and exhaust were heavily worked to fit the Italian supercar engine inside its slender hips. Who would want to cover up that gem anyway?
Toyo Tires exhibited a few wild cars, all wearing their Proxes tire lineup including a Liberty Walk widebody-equipped McLaren MP4-12C and an Unplugged Performance Tesla Model X. Even with those eye-catching vehicles on the premises, a special Porsche took center stage with their all-new R888R compound.
Fans of the German automaker might recognize the bodyline of this car to be a 997-chassis Porsche 911, but where are the headlights? They’ve been removed in favor of the unique combination of exterior panels from Old&New, a Japanese company who just recently released this widebody kit for sale. The kit pays homage to numerous classic Porsche models, incorporating the fender treatment and smooth front-end look of the factory 930-chassis Slantnose option with the headlight location of the iconic vintage 935 racecar. As of right now, there is only one other example of the kit in the world, and that’s on the owner of Old&New’s personal car in Japan.
The exterior of the car also featured wide Rotiform wheels, Porsche Motorsport carbon fiber roof and mirrors, along with polycarbonate race windows. On the inside, it housed Technocraft carbon fiber bucket seats and a custom roll cage, while the vehicle’s dashboard and panels were wrapped in blue material mimicking the ‘90s Hondas this 997 owner used to build for fun. By combining the rather unknown Japanese elements with the assorted Motorsport pieces, and keeping a personal touch on the interior, this became one of my favorite cars at the event.
Another booth with a Japanese influence came by way of AMF Forged Wheels. They displayed a pair of vehicles from ARTIS Japan, a Japanese bodywork shop specializing in elaborate hand-engraved paint schemes. The most eye-catching example was this golden R35-chassis Nissan GT-R rolling on a set of their black-finish AMF-201 wheels. Loyal readers will remember our coverage of last year’s SEMA show, where the same company’s silver version of this car was on display. Although this particular car wears the same Kuhl Racing widebody kit, it’s actually a completely separate car. There are hundreds of man hours spent developing these paint schemes, where thick-laying primer is sprayed across all of the panels and then hand engraved before being covered in the reflective metallic coating.
The fit, finish, and execution of every last detail is truly something that must be witnessed firsthand to gain full appreciation for the quality of work put into this car. Everything from the custom pie-cut titanium exhaust system to the GT-R’s headlights feature small signature details alluding to the parties responsible for its creation. This is a master class in blending art and automobiles into one inspirational final product.
Earlier this year, when Scion took the devastating plunge into extinction that many other car companies have taken, Toyota’s budget opened up a little more. To fill the void, they sanctioned multiple extravagant builds for their SEMA display, which included this wild Super GT-inspired Toyota Prius G, collaboratively built by Beyond Marketing and Evasive Motorsports. True to form, Evasive created a track-ready machine out of an average economy car, just as they did years ago with their Scion iQ.
This Prius G – notably wearing a Toyota/TRD livery – doesn’t just have a Kuhl Racing body kit bolted to its bumper supports – its exterior wears a set of Voltex S2000-spec fender flares and 18-inch Volk Racing TE37SL wheels to further widen the track, along with Craft Square carbon fiber mirrors for improved visibility. On the inside, the stock interior has been stripped to rid the car of unwanted weight and make room for the rigidity-enhancing roll cage, Sparco bucket seat, and AIM MSX race dash. Other than the GT300-class racecar the build was modeled after, this may be the most aggressive Prius in existence – it even pulled 0.99G in a skidpad test!
The Nissan Skyline has long been a favorite chassis among racing drivers and enthusiasts alike. My generation grew up playing the Gran Turismo video game series, where the R34-chassis was the pinnacle of a performance street car, which was capable of being modified to handle anything that came its way. Past generations were familiar with the car from its various expeditions representing its native country of Japan in Touring Car championships. While most of the vintage examples are now restored and preserved for future generations – or destroyed – some of the elder statesmen are still operated with performance in mind.
Enter OS Giken, and their vintage racing-inspired Hakosuka Skyline. In the desolate yet roll cage-filled interior, only a Bride Zeta III bucket seat survived the extensive panel removal process to strip unnecessary weight from the car, while externally, a set of widened fender flares house the broad Volk Racing TE37V wheels and Nitto NT01 tires. But the real star of the chassis lies inside the engine bay, where OS Giken’s own remastered L-series engine awaits the call of duty. The OS Giken TC24-B1Z engine is 3.2-liters of Nissan fury originally designed in the ‘70s then reconfigured using modern technology. It’s capable of revving to the 10,000 rpm mark, and boasts a power output over 400 horsepower. All of these elements mix to create the ultimate racecar, with tons of power on tap and a lightweight balanced shell wrapped around the powertrain.
Perfectly-executed vintage chassis located throughout the Convention Center area showcased modern touches, which forced the modern supercars like this Audi R8 from Umbrella Auto Design at the Yokohama Wheels booth to have their own special touches in order to stand out from the crowd.
This Audi was put on a high fiber diet to shed the pounds; the use of dry carbon fiber panels from an LM-spec Audi R8 helps to bring the overall weight down and widen the track. In addition, without paint covering them, they perfectly illustrated the menacing attitude portrayed by the dark facade. Filling the widened carbon panels were a set of Advan GT Premium wheels finished in black to seamlessly set off the subtle yet aggressive tone of the exterior.
Amidst a sea of countless Porsche models, there were but a few that stood out as prime examples of the iconic nameplate. One of the included samples was this 930 Turbo chassis built by Rob Ida Concepts, which featured an understated grey paint scheme, Pirelli race tires, and a completely custom interior flush with new materials and fitted with a roll cage. We should have more on this car via a feature in the next few weeks, so we’ll spare the rest of the details until then. Stay tuned to Front Street for more on this vehicle.
An impressive display of a different German automaker was evident at the H&R Special Springs booth. A trio of BMW cars – and one Audi – represented the marque in fine style; showcasing an elite class of street and track prepped vehicles. On the street end of that spectrum sat this flawless orange 318is – that’s right, a non-M3. Its countenance had been massaged to an overwhelmingly form-fitting standard with impeccable attention to detail, which left no gap uneven. The moldings were still evident between the hood and the fenders, along with fresh moldings throughout the rest of the chassis. A custom-built set of silver BBS E50 wheels were mounted to the hubs, contrasting the Lime Rock Edition E92 M3 Feuer Orange II exterior hue. On the interior, Recaro Orthoped seats, a custom rear seat delete, and numerous M-Sport touches accompanied the leather wrapped roll bar.
Maybe I’m biased because of my affection for ‘90s vehicles – or because I own an EF-chassis Civic myself – but I enjoyed seeing this Honda Civic from Hush Performance parked outside the show. Although Hush entered the market by offering a solution for converting pesky Honda cable clutch-burdened Civics into hydraulically assisted alternatives, the company now produces its own three-piece fiberglass drag racing front end seen here. The nose conceals a large front mount intercooler and its accompanying turbocharger, suggesting this lightweight Civic must create an awful lot of power. The modest Kirkey racing seats show that this Civic is purpose-built for speed, without all of the attention-grabbing extras found elsewhere in the show.
Without a doubt, the most out-of-place vehicle at this year’s SEMA show was this Prius X parked outside the halls. Built by a Japanese company called Dazer, its lifted ride height, brush bar, KC off-road lights, and knobby tires give this hybrid a rugged overall look ready for any terrain. The Dazer Japan bumpers and fender flares add a bit of aggression to the normally mild-mannered machine, while a GReddy exhaust gives its exhale more grunt.
This Mitsubishi Evolution was a personal favorite and a diamond in the rough; with so many cars surrounding it in the outside lot, I had to dig it out from its surroundings. The exterior was altered at each end with carbon fiber pieces from the Japanese aerodynamic juggernaut Voltex. This offered the body a much more violent shape than the standard Evo’s appearance, while also improving the airflow across the car’s panels. A wide set of Volk Racing ZE40 wheels wrapped in 295 width Yokohama Advan tires crowded the area underneath the widened fenders, while Brembo brakes were enlisted to halt the rotating mass. As a purveyor of legitimacy, it was nice to see this Evo parked directly next to a car with knockoff wheels.
Restrictions on booth space didn’t stop Gentex from cramming a Porsche LMP1 car into the furthest reaches of its location. While walking the show, I only caught the front splitter of this car out of the corner of my eye, as the rest of the vehicle lay hidden between two walls, but what more do you need for identification of such an immense contender in the FIA WEC racing series? It was a delight to see one of these incredible machines in person, even though it was most likely used strictly for demo purposes like SEMA and never raced. I’m still trying to understand how they got the car so close to the wall…
Bordering the #FordOutFront event area were lines of cars from various styles, makes and models. Of those in that lot, this low classic Chevy Camaro appeared with a wild twelve-cylinder LS-engine variant tucked inside of its engine bay. The protruding individual throttle bodies were reminiscent of the glory days of Formula 1 racing, when the trumpets of twelve-cylinder carbureted engines populated every line of the starting grid. So if it’s a twelve-cylinder, how is it still an LS-engine, which is normally an eight-cylinder? It uses the LS architecture and adds four more cylinders, and features many of the improvements found in aftermarket LS-style engine components. In fact, the company building the engine v12ls.com launched their new line of V12LS products right here at the 2016 SEMA show. I struggled to find this car throughout the entire week, and finally stumbled onto it during the final day of the event and I’m glad I did.
We’ll close out our SEMA coverage with this vibrant red Ferrari F430 located in the VIP Modular booth. This car wasn’t exhibiting anything revolutionary or outlandish, in fact it was quite the opposite, but that’s what made it a standout build from the event. The stout curves of the Italian supercar were further widened with one of Liberty Walk’s newest widebody kits, which matched the factory lines of the car seamlessly. The famous factory-issued Rosso Corsa paint still oozing from every panel was perfectly accented by a set of basic yet exceptionally-attractive polished five spoke VIP Modular FXS550 wheels. The entire body was lowered over the wheels via an Air Lift Performance airbag suspension setup to give the ideal stance. It all came together for a wonderfully understated show car – well, as understated as a bright red Ferrari can be.
As I left the convention center, walking right by the endless line for the tram back to the strip, I was greeted by the sun setting over the Nevada desert and several casinos. The SEMA event was over, but the visuals in my memory will remain until next year’s show blocks them out. Some more will also live on in our massive photo gallery located below. Enjoy!