The Specialty Equipment Market Association show, better known on the street as the SEMA show, is always the hot ticket to see what's new in the world of the automotive aftermarket. The show features tens of thousands of automotive accessories representing everything from forthright function to blatant bling. There's no denying that the four-day SEMA show is a powerful magnet that draws industry players and automotive aficionados from all over the world to Las Vegas. The show is massive, encompassing almost all of the huge Las Vegas Convention Center and much of the Sands Expo Center. In addition to parts, the show is packed with thousands of vehicles, many of which are four-wheel drive.
What follows are a few of the rigs we liked best. In this collection you'll notice that we have tried to temper runaway bling with a number of functional, real-world rigs that sport some truly unique ideas. Hopefully, these rides will give you a few ideas for your own machine.
Built by: International Truck Corporation, Warrenville, Illinois
Found at: International Truck Corporation booth
Wildest mod: Let's face it; this whole truck is wild. This four-wheel-drive monster can haul (12,000 pounds) or tow (40,000 pounds!) just about anything you have over just about any terrain you can find.
Other cool stuff: Escalade-like interior with flip-down DVD screen and dash-mounted navigation screen; front-mounted winch; massive winch bumper; camouflage exterior.
Built by: Aaron Dusenbery, Thornton, Colorado
Found at: Moser Engineering booth
Wildest mod: This brand-new competition rock buggy made its debut at the SEMA show, and one of its most fascinating features was the 280hp turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder Subaru engine. The engine is from an '01 Legacy, and it was fitted with a 2.0L-application turbo from Outback Subaru. This small turbo produces 8-10 pounds of boost, and reaches maximum boost by 1,800 rpm.
Other cool stuff: Custom chromoly chassis; GM Powerglide two-speed transmission; Atlas II 5:1 transfer case; custom Moser Engineering Ford 9-inch axles with aluminum centersections, 6.0:1 gears and 35-spline ARB Air Lockers; Crane high-clearance Dana 60 knuckles; Slickrock Off-Road hydraulic steering; 17x10 Walker Evans Racing bead-lock wheels; 39.5x13.5-17 BFGoodrich Krawler T/A KX tires; Mastercraft seat.
Built by: J. Auston Fabrications, Phoenix, Arizona
Found at: Pro Comp Tires booth
Wildest mod: We know for a fact that you haven't seen H1 lift kits advertised in Four Wheeler. Well, there's a reason for that; as far as we know, there aren't any. This is why we stopped dead in our tracks when we saw Jack Auston's '99 Hummer sitting on a 6-inch suspension lift. It turns out that Auston markets the kit through his company, J. Auston Fabrications LLC. Designing and building the kit took him 1,600 hours over the course of 8 months. The lift kit consists of a number of lowering brackets, replacement springs, shocks, a new fuel tank and straps, bracing, driveshafts, steel braided air lines for the Central Tire Inflation System, brake line extensions, and brake cables. Worried about compromising the H1's inherent strength? So was Auston, so he paid special attention to safety issues and structural stability and strength. He says the kit is actually stronger than the frame of the H1. J. Auston Fabrications says that the 6-inch kit allows fitment of up to 44-inch tires, and they also offer a 9 1/2-inch kit that allows fitment of up to 49-inch tires.
Other cool stuff: The H1 was sitting on 40x13.50R20 Xterrains, Pro Comp Tires' latest addition to the Xterrain family of tires.
Built by: Landrunner Conversions, Huntington Beach, California
Found at: Full Traction Suspension booth
Wildest mod: Could it be the highly modified Iveco 8140 four-cylinder diesel engine? Yeah, most definitely. This OHC, common-rail engine sports a 94.4mm bore and a 100mm stroke to give it a total displacement of 2,800mm (2.8L) and a base compression ratio of 18:1. The engine features an intercooler, VATN Garrett electronically-controlled turbocharger, custom calculated-length header turbo feeders, and a custom cool-air outside air-filter housing as well as much more. What it all boils down to is an engine that makes 176 hp at 3,600 rpm and 278 lb-ft of torque at a delightfully low 1,450 rpm. As a bonus, the Wrangler is said to get an average of 27.5 mpg.
Other cool stuff: ZF 6S 300 six-speed manual transmission; NP231 transfer case; Dana 44 axles; front and rear Eaton electric lockers; 3.73:1 gearing; front and rear electronic sway-bar disconnect system; Tom Wood's CV driveshafts; Webasto preheat system; Magnaflow exhaust; Warn fender flares; Landrunner bumper with wraparound brushguard; Warn winch; Landrunner Safari Rack with Expedition Basket.
Built by: Custom Motorsports, Riverside, California
Found at: Toyo Tires booth
Wildest mod: This H2 wasn't the flashiest Hummer in the show, but it was definitely one of the most functional. Its best mod wasn't just one item; instead it was the sum of many. What we're referring to is the suspension. The Bulletproof 6-inch kit was a realistic height in the real world, and it offered enough clearance for a set of 37x13.50-24 Toyo Open Country Mud-Terrain tires on prototype 24x12 Weld Evo Cheyenne wheels. The suspension's performance was further enhanced by a set of King remote-reservoir coilover shocks.
Other cool stuff: Vortec supercharger; Superchiller intercooler; Other Guys headers; Borla stainless steel exhaust; Mag-Hytec differential cover and transmission pan; Wilwood 15-inch-diameter front rotors and six-piston calipers; Wilwood slotted rear brake calipers; Warn 9,000-pound winch; XTC Products lightbar with PIAA lights; Lightforce off-road lights; Hella off-road lights; Audiobahn sound system.
Built by: Donahoe Racing, Anaheim, California
Found at: Toyota booth
Wildest mod: Actually, we like everything about this truck. We're impressed with the brand-new-for-'05 Tacoma in stock form, so we can only image how well this modified truck performs. If we were to shine a spotlight on one particular area of this rig, we'd have to draw attention to the suspension, which features Donahoe Racing 2 1/2-inch-diameter coilover race shocks in front, and they're set for 3 inches of lift. The rear coilovers are custom units, specifically designed for this vehicle.
Other cool stuff: Rear 1-inch-lift add-a-leaf; custom Donahoe Racing TIG-welded front lightbar; custom Donahoe Racing TIG-welded bed rack and tilt-down lightbar; Demello Off-Road Rock Sliders; 305/70R17 Goodyear MT/R tires; 17x8.5-inch Walker Evans Street Lock wheels; TRD seat covers, pedals, shift knob, floor mats, and bed mat.
Found at: Mopar Alley booth
Wildest mod: We're going to do something we rarely do and give props to paint. We really dig the work on this Oakley Ram concept. It was done by Paint 'n Place in Placentia, California, and is complemented in part by a Precision Billet Grille and Sir Michaels rollpan.
Other cool stuff: Robbie Gordon Offroad/Full Throttle Suspension custom lift; 22x12 Diesel wheels; 40x15.5R22 Toyo Open Country MT tires; Bassani exhaust; AEM intake; Katzkin leather/suede interior; Clarion head unit; Kicker Audio amplifiers, subwoofers, and speakers.
Built by: RCH Designs, Huntington Beach, California
Found at: Nissan booth
Wildest mod: Ryan Hagel of RCH Designs could've just lifted this brand-new '05 Pathfinder and it would've been cool, but he went a step further by integrating Sway-A-Way coilover shocks into the custom 3-inch front suspension.
Other cool stuff: Custom 3-inch-lift rear suspension featuring Eibach coil springs and Sway-A-Way shocks; 33x12.50-16 Xterrain tires mounted on 16x9-inch Xtreme Alloy wheels with simulated bead-lock rings; K&N air filter; Optima Yellow Top battery; Yakima roof rack; custom pushbar and rocker skids; 14 PIAA lights; custom Grillecraft grille; custom Gibson exhaust; Katzkin seat covers; Garmin navigation system.
Built by: Chris Dicus, Hazlewood, Missouri
Found at: Ford booth
Wildest mod: Yes, the vertical-opening door hinges from Decah are wild, but that's not the only thing that caught our eye. We like the modified 6.0L diesel engine. It features the Big Hoss Bundle from Gale Banks Engineering that includes the Techni-Cooler intercooler assembly, Six-Gun Diesel Tuner with Speed-Loader upgrade, 4-inch-diameter Monster exhaust, Monster muffler, DynaFact pyrometer and boost gauge assembly. Together, Banks says that these items help the engine generate up to 156 more horsepower and 275 more lb-ft of torque.
Other cool stuff: Superlift 6-inch suspension system; Knight Stalker nitrogen shocks; Bilstein dual steering stabilizers; Timbren bumpstops; custom Bigfoot 4x4 traction bars; 20x10 Weld Racing Commando wheels; 38x15.50-20 Interco STS tires; Mag-Hytec differential covers and transmission pan; Sun Coast Creations functional ram-air hood; Smittybilt rollbar; Bushwacker pocket-style fender flares; Buckstop Truckware bumpers; Mile Marker 12,000-pound winch; paint by Unlimited Customs; flames by Air Power Graphics.
Built by: Bully Dog Technologies, Aberdeen, Idaho
Found at: North Hall lobby
Wildest mod: This '04 Silverado may look like a boulevard cruiser, but under the hood is a potent engine/transmission combination. This truck proves that the often-ignored Duramax diesel engine has as much potential for pin-you-to-your-seat power as a PowerStroke or Cummins. The engine has been tweaked via Bully Dog Technologies Rapid Power Performance Module, Rapid Flow Induction intake, Power Pup Downloader, and 4-inch Rapid Flow exhaust. The result, according to Bully Dog, is output of approximately 465 hp and 900 lb-ft of torque. Bully Dog also addressed the Allison 1000 transmission by integrating a total rebuild including an upgrade to more clutch packs, a bigger valve body, and its Bully Dog Shift Enhancer.
Other cool stuff: Twisted Suspension 12-inch lift with dual shocks at each wheel; conversion from dual rear wheels to single rear wheels; 22.5-inch-diameter Accuride aluminum wheels; 445/50R22.5 rear tires; 375/80R22.5 front tires; Offroad Alloy bumpers; shaved door handles; custom yellow/silver paint; Sony audio system.
Built by: American Expedition Vehicles/Chrysler Group Skunkwerks
Found at: Mopar Alley booth
Wildest mod: We're digging the custom 4 1/2-inch-lift suspension, which was created by American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) and Superlift Suspension. It utilizes custom springs, knuckles, control arms and bracketry, and uses Bilstein shocks in the rear and OE struts in front. This kit allows fitment of 305/70R17 Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tires on 17x17.5 Orbitek wheels.
Other cool stuff: AEV-built roof rack, rocker guards, front bumper with winch mount, and rear bumper; Warn XP9500 winch; IPF 900 MSR off-road lights.
Built by: Mount Logan Off-Road & EK Motor Sports, Logan, Utah
Found at: EK Motor Sports booth
Wildest mod: You're probably expecting us to say the $20,000 set of Mattracks 150 Super Duty Series tracks, right? Well, good guess-you're partly right. In addition to the tracks, we also think it's cool that this rig features a number of upgraded driveline components to ensure that the tracks don't annihilate parts on a regular basis. Up front, there's a Tera 60R axle and in the rear there's a Tera 60R axle with custom full-float kit. Both axles sport 5.13:1 gearing. Further, the front axle is fitted with an ARB Air Locker and the rear is fitted with a Detroit Locker.
Other cool stuff: Custom front suspension with 14-inch-travel Sway-A-Way coilover shocks; Mt. Logan Off-Road custom shock hoops; Rock-Slide Engineering control arms and custom long arm kit and Currie Anti-Rock sway bar; custom rear suspension with 9-inch-lift Skyjacker coil springs; Skyjacker heavy-duty rear sway bar and shocks; repositioned coil-spring buckets; Rock-Slide Engineering control arms and custom long arm kit; Advance Adapters Atlas II 4.3:1 transfer case with heavy-duty output shaft; Warn Rock Crawler bumpers; Warn 9500ti winch; Rock Ram hydraulic steering system.
Built by: Decoma/Chrysler Group Skunkwerks
Found at: Mopar Alley booth
Wildest mod: We have to give kudos to the powerplant in this concept vehicle. It's a high-output 4.7L V-8 engine that is topped with a Paxton centrifugal supercharger. That yummy combo is enhanced with a free-flowing Borla dual exhaust.
Other cool stuff: A 2-inch suspension and 3-inch body lift; 33x13.5-20 Mickey Thompson Baja Claw tires; Budnik Arrow wheels; Decoma bumpers; dual Warn winches; articulating tubular spare-tire mount; Jeep Renegade-inspired roof lights fabricated by Decoma.
Built by: Weld Racing
Found at: Weld Racing booth
Wildest mod: Clearly, the 10-inch IFS/IRS suspension lift under this '04 Expedition is a bit unusual. The kit is actually available from the folks over at Full Throttle Suspension, and it's said to retain all factory geometry and ride quality.
Other cool stuff: Dual Sway-A-Way front shocks; 18x10 Weld Racing Pro-Loc Series Dune 6 wheels; 37x13.5-18 Pro Comp Xterrain tires; Kenny Davis' paint; pinstriping by Bob Bond; Carriage Works grille; Classic Soft Trim interior.
Built by:: Evil Twin Suspensions, Clearfield, Utah
Found at: Evil Twin Suspensions booth
Wildest mod: Without a doubt, it's the outrageous 56-inch-lift custom four-link suspension created by Evil Twin Suspensions. The system features 16-inch-travel Fox coilover shocks and custom sway bars.
Other cool stuff: Michelin 53.4x18.5-20 tires; 20x12 Weld Racing Cheyenne wheels; 383ci stroker motor; Dana 60 front axle; Dana 70 rear axle; Genuine Gear 6.17:1 gearing; '00 Cadillac front clip; Cadillac DeVille taillights; custom interior by Newskool Customs; custom audio by Innovative Car Audio.
Built by: HPA Motorsports, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Found at: KW Suspensions North America booth
Wildest mod: The little Ford Escape is a strong seller for Ford, and is rumored to be the platform for the new retro Bronco. We've never done much with the Escape because it doesn't have a two-speed transfer case, but we're going to overlook that for a moment because this '03 Escape is downright cool. One of the neatest things is the KW Suspension Variant 3 coilover suspension system that can be raised or lowered up to 2 inches from stock. Obviously, this makes room for larger tires, and this rig was wearing a set of aggressive Goodyear Wrangler MT/R 30x9.5R15 tires.
Other cool stuff: Kenne Bell Supercharger; Borla stainless steel exhaust system; Hyperformance ventilated disc brakes; 15x8 Weld Mountain Crusher wheels; custom Safari snorkel; Garvin wilderness rack; 10 Hella HID lights; '05 Escape composite headlight system; Westin step bars and custom pushbar; Ford Accessories rear wing; HPA Motorsports carbon-fiber flare kit and hood overlay; Sony dual-zone entertainment system.