SEMA 2012 Bitchin' or Bogus
Elsewhere in this issue the guys will show you the latest and greatest parts from the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas, an extravaganza of new automotive products. My job at SEMA was to dig up the best—and worst—vehicle displays at the show.
Bitchin: Wrangler Sand Trooper Wrangler
was acknowledged by SEMA as the “Hottest 4x4/SUV” at this year’s show, and one of the best—if not the best—Wrangler projects was on display in the Mopar booth. The Sand Trooper was built to showcase Mopar’s new Jeep Performance Parts line. Though the company is a little hazy right now as to what those parts will be exactly, we can hope they include the good stuff on the Sand Trooper: 5.7L Hemi conversion, portal axles, 42-inch Super Swamper Bogger tires on beadlock Power Wagon wheels, Fox shocks, lots of body armor, and a Warn winch. Mopar calls the Sand Trooper’s color Dune-in-Matte, which looks great on the four-door JK.
Bogus: Jeep Grille Swap
Jeep has fought long and hard to keep imposters from stealing or copying the iconic seven-slot grille. Why mess with success?
Bitchin: OMIX-ADA Success Center
A gathering point for seminars and meetings during the show, the Success Center was ringed with an incredible display of Jeeps, including the CJ-7 that Mark Smith drove on the 1978 Expedicion de las Americas and Editor Péwé’s ’43 GPW jeep, which he drove to the show
Bogus: FJ Cruiser TRD Edition
When we heard TRD was building a Baja-themed FJ Cruiser for SEMA we hoped it would have the same impact as the Baja Tacoma. Imagine our surprise when we got to the Toyota booth and found this, looking tamer than most of the FJs we see in our neighborhood. Yes, there’s a supercharger underhood and Bilstein shocks at the corners, but, well, yawn.
Bitchin: Alexis DeJoria’s Tundra Prerunner
NHRA drag racer Alexis DeJoria, working with Racer Engineering, built a kick-ass Tundra prerunner as part of Toyota’s Dream Challenge competition (which she should have won, but didn’t). The custom-fabbed front suspension travels 20 inches (there’s 24 inches of travel in the rear), while a supercharged 5.7L V-8 underhood and 6.20 gears—with a spool in back—will get her down the arroyo in a hurry. If only it was four-wheel drive.
Bitchin: Zibar MK2
What looks like a stripped-down Hummer is actually an Israeli import, built on a tube frame with a Dana 60 up front and a Dana 70 in back, rolling on 40-inch Maxxis tires, and powered by either an LS3 small-block or an LSX 454 crate motor. Production will soon begin in the U.S., though for now they are not legal to drive on the street. Not bitchin is the price, which starts at $120,000 for the LS3 version. Too rich for our budget, but the Zibar folks sold six of their paramilitary runabouts on the first day of the show.
Are these supposed to be vampire’s teeth? Bullets? Arrowheads? Whatever. Your 4x4 shouldn’t look like it wants to eat you.
“Wrangler was the hottest 4x4/SUV at SEMA for the third year in a row”
Bitchin/Bogus: Bigfoot 20
Odyssey Battery has been a longtime sponsor of the Bigfoot racing team, but that’s not the only reason the latest version of the original monster truck was in the Odyssey booth. Bigfoot 20 is driven by a custom-built electric motor powered by a whole bunch of Odyssey batteries—36 to be exact. We’re torn about this one. While we like the idea of the ever-innovative Bob Chandler shaking up the monster truck scene with something completely different, we’re going to miss the distinctive crackling roar of a big-cube engine gulping methanol. Will Bigfoot 20 be as fun to watch if it sounds like a giant R/C model?
Bogus: Chevy Display
Sure, plenty of hot cars were wearing the Bow Tie at SEMA this year, but the only truck in the whole Chevrolet booth was this lame “concept” Avalanche with some graphics and skis on the roof. We’re losing Avalanche this year, and it deserved a better sendoff. Plus, since GM is just months away from unveiling an all-new half-ton pickup truck, SEMA would have been the perfect place to show off a disguised teaser version. Epic fail, Chevy.
Bitchin: Cummins-Powered Vintage Power Wagons
Icon and Legacy Conversions seem to be kick-starting a trend with their Power Wagon projects. The Icon truck (left) is a modern Ram 3500-series pickup under the ’65 sheetmetal, powered by a 5.9 Cummins hopped up with Banks speed parts. The Legacy truck was built by grafting two cabs together, then taking the truck through a complete rotisserie restoration and fitting it with a 3.9L Cummins. We couldn’t find a price for the Icon, but a Legacy crew-cab conversion will set you back about $170,000. Not bitchin.
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This Just In
• Do-it-yourself Humvee? That’s right. AM General is now offering the Humvee C-Series kit so you can build your own replica of the famous military vehicle. The kits include an aluminum body, a welded box frame, four-wheel independent suspension, Torsen differentials, and Tremec geared hubs; the builder supplies the powertrain. Options include the General’s central tire inflation system, Eaton e-Lockers, and a Warn 12,000-pound winch. Visit genuinehumveekit.com for more info.
• A Third Place finish at the final round of the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series in Arizona was more than enough to clinch the 2012 Pro 4 Unlimited class championship for Kyle LeDuc and his Monster Energy/Toyo Tires–sponsored F-150. Statistically he only needed to finish the race in Eighth Place to earn the championship, but his 900hp Ford was super-competitive that weekend, notching the fastest lap in practice.
• Los Angeles went Space Shuttle crazy in October when the Endeavor flew into LAX on the back of a NASA 747 and then was transported on city streets to its new home at the California Science Center. At one point in the 12-mile journey a stock Toyota Tundra CrewMax 4x4—taken from a dealer’s lot—was pressed into service to tug the shuttle over the Manchester Boulevard Bridge, as the weight requirements of the bridge required a lighter towing mechanism than the rest of the route. How did Toyota get the honor? It has a 20-year partnership with the Science Center. The weight of the Endeavor and its dolly was estimated at nearly 300,000 pounds.
• The Upper Tellico OHV System in North Carolina was permanently closed after the U.S. Western District of North Carolina rejected efforts by the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association, United Four Wheel Drive Associations, and BlueRibbon Coalition to reopen at least part of the System. To drive a final nail in Tellico’s coffin, a Forest Service contractor obliterated the former trails and left a maze of boulders and fallen trees in their place, making the former routes inaccessible, says the BlueRibbon Coalition.
• A bill is moving through the Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee that would exempt vehicles 10 years old and newer from emissions inspection. Called SB 1532, the bill acknowledges the relatively minimal environmental impact of the new vehicles targeted for this exemption, say the political watchdogs at SEMA, while also recognizing that it is senseless to test newer vehicles, the results of which demonstrate no significant air quality benefits. The idea behind exempting any class of vehicles is to reduce costs while not losing appreciable emissions reductions. This strategy builds support for emissions inspection programs but also directs finite resources to where they will be most valuable in cleaning the air.
Suzuki Files for Bankruptcy
American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) announced it will “realign its business” to focus on its motorcycle/ATV and marine sales and stop selling cars and SUVs in the U.S. As part of the reorganization, ASMC is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The maker cited a number of “serious challenges” for its automotive division, ranging from a limited number of models to the increasing cost of meeting federal and state vehicular regulations. Once the existing inventory of Suzuki cars and SUVs is sold, Suzuki said that it will honor all warranties and that parts and service will continue to be provided through Suzuki’s parts and dealer network.
Ram, Chevy Donate in Sandy’s Wake
Chrysler’s Ram brand is donating 20 Ram 1500 Tradesman pickup trucks and $100,000 to the American Red Cross for Superstorm Sandy relief. Chevrolet is also donating some 50 trucks, vans, and SUVs to the Red Cross. OK, Ford, you’re next.
New Medium- Assault Vehicle
If you’re into sports car racing, you probably know the name Pratt & Miller, the company that builds Corvettes for the American LeMans series. But the company engineers all kinds of vehicles, and it recently teamed with Northrop Grumman to produce a new combat vehicle. The Medium Assault Vehicle-Light (MAV-L) was entered into the U.S. Special Forces command Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1 competition in Washington, D.C. Designed for Special Ops, the MAV-L can carry up to seven and is transportable via Chinook helicopter.
New Defender Coming to U.S.
Back in 2011, Land Rover unveiled the DC100 concept and said it “investigates the potential future direction of the iconic Defender.” At the time the folks at LR weren’t sure whether this new Defender model would be sold in the U.S., but a recent report in trade journal Automotive News indicates that this new Defender will be sold here, possibly as early as 2015, as a new entry-level Land Rover.
To refresh your memory, the DC100 (and its sister, the convertible DC100 Sport) was built on a 100-inch wheelbase and featured typical show-car gadgetry like driver-activated tire spikes, sonar to check water depth, and a scanner to warn drivers of obstacles and “suggest alternative routes,” said Land Rover. We doubt those features will ever see production, but the concept’s 2.0L gas or diesel engines, both with hybrid and plug-in capabilities, could, as could the eight-speed automatic with stop/start capability.
• Feb. 1-3: Bluewater Resort & Casino Parker 425 desert race, Parker, AZ. Info: www.bitd.com
• Feb. 2: Tire repair/Hi-Lift mini clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hawthorne, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
• Feb. 3-8: Griffin King of the Hammers, Johnson Valley, CA. Info: ultra4racing.com
• Feb. 7: Smittybilt Everyman Challenge at the King of the Hammers, Johnson Valley, CA. Info: ultra4racing.com
• Feb. 7: King of the Hammers UTV race, Johnson Valley, CA. Info: ultra4racing.com
• Feb. 9: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
• Feb. 10: Starting Rock Crawling Clinic, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Lucerne Valley, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
• Feb. 15-17: California Association of 4WD Clubs annual convention, Rancho Cordova, CA. Info: www.cal4wheel.com
• Feb. 16: Dog Party, Twisted Trails Off Road Park, Copemish, MI. Info: twistedtrailsoffroadpark.com
• Feb. 20-23: Chile Challenge Trail Event, Southern New Mexico Fairgrounds (west of Las Cruces), by the Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club. Info: www.chilechallenge.org
• Feb. 22-24: Battle at Primm desert race, Primm, NV. Info: snoreracing.net
• Feb. 23: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
• Feb. 24: Advanced Beginner Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
• Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description of the event, and contact info—phone numbers and/or email/website address—to Calendar, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; fax 310.531.9368; email 4wheeloff email@example.com. Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.