2008 SEMA Show Report
Everyone wondered how the tough economic conditions would affect the 2008 Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas. This is a show that normally draws more than 2,000 automotive-related exhibitors and more than 2,000 vehicles. As the date drew near, even we began wondering if the SEMA Show, as it's affectionately known, would retain its status as the preeminent automotive show. Rumors and speculation ran rampant in the industry. It was like some people were expecting tumbleweeds to blow down empty aisles of the normally packed Las Vegas Convention Center. Little did they know.
It turned out that the 2008 show was still the mother of all automotive enthusiast shows and the place to be for those in the industry. It was still challenging to navigate the thick crowds at peak times; the Las Vegas monorail was still like a cattle car in the mornings and afternoons; and our feet still hurt at the end of the day. SEMA says that there were more than 2,000,000 square feet of exhibits and more than 100,000 industry leaders from more than 100 countries, and 50,000 domestic and international buyers in attendance. Additionally, they say that there were more than 2,000 newly introduced parts, tools, and components in the New Products Showcase. We'll show you some of those next month.
This month we offer a glimpse of SEMA, including a look at some of the noteworthy four-wheel-drive vehicles. The SEMA show always draws a mind-boggling collection of unique vehicles, and this year was no exception. Some were real-world, some were refreshing, and some were, well, examples of customization run amok. One thing's for sure; there was something for everyone.
If we gave an award for best SEMA display, we'd probably trot it right on over to Daystar for its upside-down JK Wrangler Unlimited. Trent McGee, Daystar's Director of Marketing, says, "Displaying a Jeep upside-down at SEMA is something I've wanted to do for years, but it took a CEO (Mark Turner) that was crazy enough to believe in the idea to make it happen. If you're a manufacturer of suspension components, why would you make your customers kneel down and crawl under a vehicle to see your products installed?" Flipping a vehicle without damaging it isn't easy, and the guys at Daystar had to build a "crazy contraption" to do the actual flipping. Then they had to build an internal structure and truss system to support to Jeep while inverted. They actually flipped the truck at Daystar headquarters in Phoenix and transported it upside-down to Las Vegas. "The CB chatter and the looks from fellow motorists were priceless," McGee notes. The JK definitely gathered a lot of attention at SEMA too.
ARB has a number of products available for the Hummer H3, and most of them were on this H3 Alpha in its booth. The list includes a Bull Bar, rear bumper, Touring rack cage, rooftop tent, and air locking rear differential. The rig also sported an ARB Freezer Fridge, ARB recovery gear, a number of IPF lights, a Warn XD9000 winch, Walker Evans Racing wheels, BFG All-Terrain tires, and a TruckVault locking drawer system.
Cool doesn't even begin to describe this Tacoma Truck Retro in the Toyota booth. If it looks like an '80s Toyota pickup, well good, because that's the idea. It has a four-cylinder engine mated to a four-speed transmission; Land Cruiser solid front axle, transfer case and rear axle; custom tubular bumpers and rollbar; custom grille; Cream Pearl paint with retro stripes; American Racing AR-23 wheels; BFG All-Terrain KO tires; and a brown interior with Recaro fabric.
Ford displayed this awesome '09 F-150 DeWalt Heavy Duty Contractor concept. Among other things, it has a Superlift leveling kit, Mickey Thompson Baja Radial MTZ tires, a Ramsey Patriot 9500 winch, a custom ladder rack with rotating work lights and custom toolbox, two 3,000-watt power inverters with front- and rear-mounted 110V power outlets, a DeWalt dual-port onboard battery charger, a DeWalt heavy-duty air compressor with custom-mounted rear hose reel outlet and front outlet, Ford Work Solutions Tool Link RFID inventory management system, customized onboard tool storage under the back row seat, and DeWalt yellow exterior paint.
This Tacoma Access Cab's wide fenders and bedsides and revised grille and bumper give a hint as to the thorough mods that have been infused into this incredible pickup truck. It was at the Toyota booth, and it's called the TRD Tacoma Off Road Project. It features a supercharged and intercooled 4.0L engine and custom long-travel front and rear suspension with titanium springs and Bilstein shocks. The rear brakes are mounted inboard, and the rig rolls on BFG Baja tires mounted to TRD forged-aluminum wheels. More than just a pretty face, this rig boasts 13 inches of front suspension travel and 14 inches of rear suspension travel.
The folks at Skyjacker displayed this '09 F-150 SuperCab FX4 equipped with its new 6-inch suspension system. Other mods to this handsome rig included a trick BASF paint job, BFG Mud-Terrain tires, BMF wheels, a Corsa exhaust, AAC headlamps and taillights, a Precision grille, and WeatherTech floor mats.
We'd dechrome it, paint it flat black and drive it to work.