It's extreme, edgy, extravagant, and exhausting. It completely fills the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo Center (over 1 million square feet, in case you were wondering). It draws more than 100,000 attendees each November. It sports more than 1,900 exhibitors. It only happens once a year, and only in Las Vegas. It's the world-renowned SEMA Show, and baby, it rocks.
At SEMA (short for Specialty Equipment Market Association), you'll see it all-more than 2,000 vehicles that represent the cutting edge of aftermarket technology and function. You'll also see rigs that sport so much over-the-top bling, you'll bust out laughing. It's so Vegas. Each night after the show closes, you'll see the cutting edge of partying as many attendees of Vegas' largest event move en masse onto the Strip (we've heard that what happens there, stays there, so we'll move on).
As we do each year, we eagerly jumped out of the rack early each morning before the crowds saturated the show floor (magazine staffers always go to bed early at SEMA) and we photographed some of the more noteworthy and fascinating rigs. What follows is a virtual tour of those rigs as well as a few other items.
What it is: '05 Toyota Tacoma
Found at: Smittybilt booth
Particulars: This beautiful Tacoma showcases a slew of Smittybilt products including a tubular rear bumper, bed divider, bed extender, billet grille, and running boards. Underneath, it has Fabtech's new 6-inch suspension lift; Weld 17x10 Pro-Crusher wheels; LT305/70R17 Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tires; and a TRD exhaust system. Inside, there are Katzkin leather seat covers and a bunch of thumpin' MTX Audio gear. The exterior paint was designed and applied by Doug Starbuck at Starside design.
One more thing ... : That way-cool front winch bumper is a Smittybilt product, and it holds a Warn 9.5ti winch, four lights, and a pair of D-rings
What it is: '05 Ford F-150
Found at: Skyjacker booth
Particulars: It's a two-wheel-drive, but hey, outside the Snow Belt, built 4x2s are hot properties. This one has the brand-new Skyjacker 6-inch lift; 37-inch BFG A/T tires; new Weld Dune 6 wheels; Reflexxions Dominator cowl hood; Precision Phat Billet grille; Perry's Fab-N-Fiber fiberglass prerunner front fenders; new SSBC Force 10 brakes; N-Fab bumper, nerf bar, and new spare-tire carrier; numerous Baja Designs 8-inch Sol Tek HID lights; Optima Yellow Top battery; and K&N Aircharger intake.
One more thing ... : See those body trim pieces that look like they're riveted on? They are.
What it is: '06 Dodge Ram 2500 Mega Cab
Found at: Trail Master booth
Particulars: We figured there would be mega Mega Cabs, but this was the only one we saw outside of the Mopar booth. It has Trail Master's new 4.5-inch suspension lift that is said to retain the proper caster and pinion angles while increasing wheel travel. The kit allows fitment of 35x13.50 tires and it allows use of the stock wheels. This particular Mega Cab also had Trail Master's 2.5-inch front leveling kit installed. This allowed fitment of LT235/65R18 Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ tires on MT Classic Lock 18x10 wheels.
One more thing ... : Up front, there's an OR Fab front bumper with three KC 1801 lights.
What it is: '02 Chevy Avalanche
Found at: Rhino Linings booth
Particulars: JH Custom Wheel and Accessory and Rhino Linings of Bolivar, Missouri, created this sharp-looking Avalanche. The rig's lengthy list of features include a Fabtech 6-inch lift; a Truxxx lift and level kit; Air Lift 1000 Series load-assist rear airbags; Rancho RSX Series performance shocks; 35x13.50-20 Mickey Thompson ATZ all-terrain tires; 20x9 Detata Cross wheels; Corsa Performance Power Pulse RSC stainless steel after-cat exhaust system; AEM Brute Force cold air induction intake; Ohio Generator 200-amp alternator; Putco Liquid billet grille; All Sales billet Bow Tie; and a huge A/V system.
One more thing ... : Every piece of exterior body cladding has been coated with Rhino Linings Tuff Stuff. The graphics are Rhinos UV Topcoat in matching black with Dodge Viper Race Yellow fading into Viper Red.
Form And Function
What it is: '05 Chevy K2500HD
Found at: Fabtech boothParticulars: One thing that you can always count on at SEMA is that Fabtech will have a cool truck in its booth. This year, it was this awesome Chevy sporting Fabtech's new 9-inch long-travel coilover conversion kit. The kit includes, but is certainly not limited to, the company's Dirt Logic 4.0 coilover shocks; Dirt Logic bumpstops; long-travel rear leaf springs and hangers; and Dirt Logic 2.25-inch shocks. The rig also features 37x13.50 Toyo Open Country mud-terrain tires; 17x9 American Racing wheels with OMF bead locks; Acro HID auxiliary lights; Precision solid billet grille; ORU rear differential cover; Magnaflow after-cat exhaust; and a smokin' paint job by Jerry Lathrop Designs and Craig Haynie.
One more thing ... : The coilover conversion kit gives the Chevy 12 inches of front suspension travel.
What it is: '06 Nissan Frontier
Found at: Nissan booth
Particulars: When Ryan Hagel designs a rig for SEMA, the results are always spectacular. Case in point: this wicked Frontier. It features a Spencer Low Racing-built suspension with 18 inches of rear travel and 12 inches of front travel; 35-inch BFG Baja T/A tires; custom KMC-built 17-inch bead-lock wheels; custom Hannemann fiberglass fenders; front and rear Warn winches; Spencer Low Racing custom exhaust, rollcage, and bed cage; and Mastercraft Rubicon racing seats.
One more thing ... : See that cool front bumper with winch mount and light tabs? Spencer Low Racing made that too.
What it is: '06 Hummer H3
Found at: Full Throttle Suspension booth
Particulars: Without a doubt, H3s were the hottest rig at SEMA. This bright red one stopped traffic with its brand-new 9.5-inch Full Throttle suspension system with dual shock hoops and Fox Racing 2.0 remote-reservoir shocks; 37x13.50 Boggers; 17x10 Weld Velociti wheels; Real Wheels billet accessories; Precision billet grille; and Directed Audio stereo components.
One more thing ... : Gobs of underbody components have been powdercoated.
And Now For Something Completely Different
What it is: '89 Chevy Caprice
Found at: MHT Luxury Alloys booth
Particulars: In street terminology, this is called a "hi-rise," and these are all the rage nowadays. It's not a car on a truck chassis. The suspension for this pimpin' ride was created by the guys at Red's in Miami, and it took more than 100 hours to create. Because lift kits for Chevy Caprices are a tad rare, most every component had to be hand-fabricated. Example:the A-arms, tie rods, and spindles were all stretched. In addition to the custom fabbed parts, the car is fitted with Lamborghini brakes and rotors, 3/4-ton truck ball joints, and Skyjacker shocks. The rear axle is the stock housing with 4.56:1 gears and Summers Brothers axles.
One more thing ... : Those are 28-inch MHT Condo wheels.
What it is: '06 "Polar Expedition" Jeep Commander
Found at: DaimlerChrysler booth
Particulars: American Expedition Vehicles of Missoula, Montana, created this yummy Hemi-powered concoction. It has a slew of special features and one-off products including a 4.5-inch suspension lift; 5-inch extended wheelbase; custom wheels; 37-inch tires; AEV custom bumpers with Warn winches; AEV custom fender flares by PolarFlares; and AEV rocker guards and roof rack.
One more thing ... : The interior is a techno paradise with gobs of communication equipment, as well as mapping GPS with mobile satellite Internet.
What it is: '06 Hummer H3
Found at: General Motors booth
Particulars: We're going to go out on a limb here and say that this is the coolest H3 we've seen thus far. This bad boy has the new Rancho 4-inch suspension lift; 22-inch Weld Cheyenne wheels finished in titanium; 355/55R22 BFG Mud-Terrain tires; SMA fortified steel front and rear bumpers with Ramsey winches; SMA tire carrier, low-profile front and rear lightbars, aluminum roof basket, stainless steel dual exhaust, and free flow induction system; and titanium-finished grille, tow hooks, billet door handles, and billet fuel door.
One more thing ... : Hey GM, can we borrow it?
What it is: '05 Volvo XC70
Found at: Ford booth
Particulars: This Volvo All Terrain concept has street cred and trail cred. Its mind-boggling list of mods includes a Garrett turbocharged five-cylinder engine with Aquamist cylinder intercooling, 750cc RC Engineering injectors, and 3-inch stainless steel turbo-back exhaust by Time/Heico; Brembo brakes with four-piston Brembo calipers; IPD 4-inch body lift; 20x10 KMC XD Rock Star wheels; 285/50-20 BFG A/T tires; IPD front bumper (with Warn winch), tubular roof rack (with back-up and side lights), side cladding, flares, and lightbar (with PIAA lights); and a roof-mounted 1,000-watt generator, gas can, Hi-Lift jack, spare tire, and AWD.
One more thing ... : This Volvo has bark and bite-it generates 408 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque.
What it is: '06 Ford F-150
Found at: Ford booth
Particulars: It should come as no surprise that this awesome rig was designed and built by Bigfoot Offroad and Performance (you know, the original monster truck guys). Its long list of mods include a 5.4L V-8 engine with Whipple supercharger, Ford Racing headers, and Magnaflow exhaust; NP271 transfer case; custom coilover suspension; Detroit Lockers; Interco 49-inch IROK's; MRW 20x18 bead locks; Suncoast Creations ram air hood; Warn 16.5ti winches; DuPont Hot Hues custom paint; PRP custom racing seats; RJS five-point harnesses; MTX Audio components; Auto Meter tach and gauges; and Lowrance Iway 500C GPS
One more thing ... : That beefy Dana Super 60 front axle is from Ford Racing (PN M-3002-F4488).
What it is: '06 Suzuki Grand Vitara "Dune" concept
Found at: Outside the North Hall
Particulars: This Grand Vitara is one of four specially built Suzuki concept cars that will tour the '06 auto show circuit. They were designed to explore the viability of alternative accessory packages for consumers. This beefy little machine has flared fenders; integrated cladding and running boards; Lightning Yellow paint to match the color scheme of Suzuki ATVs; rear off-road gear storage; a "mobile garage" work station; and built-in GPS and navigation system.
One more thing ... : There's a front-mounted winch and forward-facing roof-mounted lights.
Rollin' On 24s
What it is: '05 Ford F-250
Found at: Outdoor Skyjacker booth
Particulars: This unique Super Duty has an 8.5-inch Skyjacker lift with 1-inch front coil spacers; clear differential covers; Four Real Steel traction bars and front and rear bumper overlays; fiberglass fenders; powdercoated driveshafts, sway bars and track bar; Undercover bed cover; black leather seating with silver suede centers; Eclipse in-dash DVD/navigation; and a number of Kicker amps and speakers.
One more thing ... : Those bumpin' 24x12s are KMC XD Rock Stars, and they're wrapped with 37x13.50 Toyo MTs.
Six Wheels 'O Fun
What it is: '05 Hummer H6
Found at: All Stretched Out booth
Particulars: For those who feel the H2 isn't quite large enough, there's the H6. It's a stretched H2 with an extra axle (bogey wheels at the present time, though a drive axle is on the drawing board) and a cavernous, luxurious interior. Inside, standard equipment includes L-shaped rear seating; fiber optic lighting; neon lights; floor lights; DVD player; a 3rd rear A/C unit; chrome ceiling; and three video monitors. Other standard H6 equipment includes a vinyl top; dual batteries; dual alternators; and computerized rear springs.
One more thing ... : Base price is $103,000. Holman is arranging a road test as we speak.
The General's Ride
What it is: '06 Rock Buggy
Found at: Ramsey Winch booth
Particulars: General Sam Patton of Sam's Off Road created this rock racing buggy using a modified '89 Maxim sprint car chassis as a foundation. It sports a 385ci Fast Burn Chevy crate engine with Howell fuel injection; TCI-enhanced TH350 transmission; Atlas 3.8:1 transfer case; Tera CRD 60R axles with Moser axleshafts, 5.13:1 gears and Detroit Lockers; three-link front suspension; four-link rear suspension; and Walker Evans nitrogen shocks.
One more thing ... : It has an onboard halon fire suppression system that has three sprayers pointed at the driver [who's fully clad in fireproof gear, one hopes.-Ed.]
SEMA is a show consisting of radical extremes. Take wheels, for instance.