The SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in Las Vegas is a giant trade show for the automotive aftermarket and something akin to Christmas morning for gearheads. Across the many acres of the Las Vegas Convention Center are displayed thousands of new products for every automotive niche from lowriders to mud trucks. We used our media badges to get inside this exclusive event that is open to company buyers and sellers to bring you a handful of the most excitingly useful products we found for the truck and 4x4 marketplace.
Since we haven't had a chance to test any of these new products we'll be doing a lot of quoting from the manufacturers claims, but from our perspective, these are the products with some promise or at least interesting way of addressing a market need. Stay tuned throughout the year as we get some of these to run through the dirt and see how well they really do.
Dynatrac brought a handful of new products to the show including its latest Free-Spin kit designed for '05-and-newer F-250 through F-550 Ford Super Duty trucks; a new Dana 60 Stub Hub that increases clearance by drawing the locking hub back inside the protection of the wheel by more than 1 1/2 inches per side; and our favorite, the new DynaLoc locking hub kits for Dana 60 axles. The new DynaLoc's are constructed of heat-treated, chromoly steel and designed with a unique gear tooth intended to stay engaged under high torque load and said to be three times stronger than other Dana 60 locking hubs. In addition, the low-profile knob assembly should decrease impact with rocks. The best part is that the DynaLoc should default to the locked position if a failure ever occurs, thus allowing you to drive off the trail as opposed to other popular hubs that default to the unlocked position.
In addition to the many products on display at SEMA there are also concept and show cars and trucks galore. This particularly interesting Jeep Wrangler JK was on display at the Chrysler/Mopar Performance booth. This silver four-door variant was outfitted with a 4-inch suspension lift, 35-inch tires, and a rear Dana 60 axle, which is all cool, but not really unusual. However, under the hood resides a turbodiesel engine, something we would really like to see in a future JK, and with the sales of the diesel Liberty it should be a no-brainer. Now the confusing part is that the display sign said the Jeep had a 4.2L diesel but the badge under the hood said 3.0 like that found in the overseas Grand Cherokees. Hmm, could there be a new 4.2L diesel in the JK's future? Or will the new diesel emissions laws kill it before it starts? Only time will tell.
Back in 2003 we featured the first Brute Pickup concept from American Expedition Vehicles. Based off a Jeep TJ Wrangler, this modification transforms it into a useful Jeep pickup. Now AEV has come to the market with a complete conversion kit that includes a mid-frame extension, cab enclosure bodywork, a rear frame extension with winch mount, new body mounts, a steel bed assembly, a new custom hardtop, CNC fuel and brake lines, an OE style wiring harness, and rocker guards for approximately $8,500. It may seem like a lot of work, but we were told a competent team of amateur gearheads could do the Jeep transformation over a couple of weekends with a welder, a grinder, and some handtools. In the photo all the parts in black from the cab back are included in the kit.
Is your old Winnebago not living up to your standards? Then maybe it's time to step up to the Unicat Amerigo. Based on an '06 International 7400 4x4 cab and chassis, this go-camping-forever mobile could be a great home away from home-and away from everything else for that matter. It's powered by a 310hp 950-lb-ft of torque diesel with an Allison transmission and a dual-speed transfer case. The 213-inch wheelbase may be a bit much for the Rubicon Trail, but it will be quite at home crossing the Gobi or Sahara desert, not to mention cruising the deserted beaches of Baja. Of course it can ford 5 feet of water, yet still has an amazing audio/visual/communication/navigation system and plenty of sleeping space for you and guests. Did we mention real teak flooring and, last but not least, the kitchen sink? Price: $600,000.
In the Chevrolet/GMC booth we saw a bunch of cool special build/concept trucks that might be hinting at future factory options such as an H3 with a 5.3L V-8, a Colorado with a 5.3L V-8 and Hummer H3 transfer case and locking rear differential, an Avalanche with front and rear locking differentials and a winch, and a giant red Silverado custom built for Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 37-inch tires, front and rear Eaton electric lockers, Rancho suspension, the aluminum 6.2L V-8 from the GMC Denali crew cab, custom bumpers, bodywork, hoodscoop, lights, and winch. We'll take one of each, please.
Sometimes a Jeep just doesn't have the perfect amount of storage space and thus Bestop has introduced its HighRock 4x4 Element Doors. This complete half-door system for Jeep CJ-7s, CJ-8s, and all-year Wranglers includes the two lower door frames (1 1/4-inch heavy-duty tube construction), paddle handles, and fabric pocket covers that attach to either the inside or outside of the tube door for carrying everything from cell phones and suntan lotion to gloves and trail snacks. There is also a separate product called the Element Door Enclosure Kit, which includes two black powdercoated paintable steel door covers.