Every year we go to the SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada, hoping to see the next big thing. That rarely happens and we usually end up disappointed. So, this year we decided to just go and enjoy the show and all the cool products for what it was. In short, we left our expectations at home and had a much better time than we've had in years past.
The SEMA show is a lot like a candy store. That is, if your favorite candy store sold cool trinkets and had trick Jeeps all over the place. We wandered around like the proverbial kids. Between all the oohing and aahing we managed to wipe the drool off the camera long enough to snap some pictures. Here are the coolest of the cool Jeeps of the 2010 SEMA show.
River Raider calls this green two-door The Rockster It was built to mimic the lines of Jeep's Lower 40 concept Wrangler from a few years ago, but be easier to reproduce. The windshield isn't chopped, it is just laid back thanks to custom mounts. The soft top is custom-fitted to the rolled-tube roll bar and a River Raider-built tailgate mimics CJ tailgates of yore.
Underneath is a front Dana 60 and rear Corporate 14-bolt shod with 40x15.50R20 Nitto Mud Grapplers. A Chevy L94 all-aluminum 6.2L V-8 and 6L80E automatic transmission provides the locomotion and a full complement of River Raider armor compliments the custom 1/8-inch-thick aluminum half doors.
We walked by this Jeep a couple of times before we stopped to check it out. Falken tire is getting into our market in a big way starting off with its WildPeak AT tires. Speaking of tires this Jeep has them in a 37x13.50R17 flavor wrapped around a set of Spyderlock wheels.
Underneath the quiet, unassuming exterior is a plethora of cool stuff. A pair of Currie Enterprises Rock Jock axles is located with an Off Road Evolution long-arm lift and Evo-Lever rear shock conversion. An AEV heat reduction hood and Poison Spyder drop-down tire carrier are seamlessly blended into the paint scheme. Inside, a Tuffy dash-mounted box provides protection for the head unit while a Tuffy security shelf sits behind the seat and protects the cargo. A Rock Hard 4x4 cage protects the occupants.
This camo'd four-door JK was setup with front and rear hunting platforms. With the seats out front we couldn't help but compare it to Hazel's Hatari! project. The platforms are covered in Xtreme liner while the camo color comes from a Mossy Oak Brush vinyl wrap that hides the factory black paint. The gun racks and cases are Kolpin units.
The factory V-6 is still coupled to the six-speed and stock axles. It puts power to the ground through a set of 33x12.50R18 Toyo Open Country tires on Mickey Thomson Classic II rims. A Kenwood CDX 899 in-dash navigation unit looks stock. A Painless dual-battery system ensures there is enough power to fire the Jeep up no matter what, and Rugged Ridge floor mats collect all the mud picked up from those long treks.
Under the Radar
The four-door JK that Rampage Products brought along this year was looking really cool all stealthed-out. It also showcased a bunch of cool new products that Rampage is bringing to the market. The front and rear bumpers we saw last year, but the tire carrier and taillight guards were new to us.
Another unique thing is the tire cover with a window. One thing we were thrilled to see was aluminum locking hood latches that actually work well. The company tells us they will be available for all model Jeeps soon. The lift for this Jeep came from Rubicon Express and it was enough to clear a set of 33x12.50R17 Cooper Discoverer ST tires on Black Rhino rims.
Bushwacker got a hold of an '11 JK in time to build for the show. The factory leather seats and dashboard do make a big difference in the appearance of the interior. The exterior, however, was all hopped-up in Bushwacker regalia. Fender flares, corners, bra, and rocker guards are but some of the plastic protection Bushwacker offers.
The rocker guards protect the rockers obviously but wrap up and protect the door sills as well. A Burnsville 5.7L Hemi swap provides power and punishes the front and rear Dynatrac axles. At the other end of the axles are a set of Trail Ready beadlock wheels wrapped with 37x13.50R17 Super Swamper SS M16 tires and elevation is handled by TeraFlex.
Black Rock took a gamble by slathering the Poison Spyder Customs fenders, bumpers, and rockers in a shade of grey-but it works. Underneath is the normal assortment of really trick parts such as front and rear Currie Enterprises Rock Jock axles and Antirock sway bars. The tires are 40x14.50R18 BFG KM2s on black-machined Black Rock Scorpion wheels.
TeraFlex paved the way for the monster meats with a long-arm lift kit and Black Rock added the high-end Icon shocks to it. Twisted Stitch seats reside under a Bestop bikini top with a Bestop Duster Deck Cover keeping the elements off the cargo. Dual Power Tanks are mounted above the cover and provide enough compressed air for any need. The Jeep gets a kick in the power department thanks to a Vortech supercharger kit.
Around the Rock
So many of the Jeeps that we see at SEMA are last-minute thrash-to-put-together builds. Not so with the Hi-Lift Jeep. Hi-Lift also was bucking the build-a-big-JK trend by bringing a TJ to the show. This Jeep has actually made the last few shows and we were glad to see it again.
The bowless soft top provides cover for the Corbeau seats. Gen-Right tube fenders clear the 37x12.50R17 Goodyear MT/Rs wrapped around Raceline Rock Monster beadlocks. A Currie Enterprises Antirock sway bar makes it easy to get off-road and an LOD bumper houses a Warn winch and IPF lights.
Drives a Little Slower
We got to watch as this Rubicon Express Jeep was assembled a couple of years ago. It was built to be low and stable but we found it in the Bestop booth. As you might expect it had a bunch of Bestop product including seats and a bowless top. The steel half doors are actually Bestop units with the steel skin painted the factory-color. Gen-Right Off Road rockers protect those doors and the rear flares were raised up to give more room for the 37x12.50R16 Goodyear MT/Rs on Rubicon rims. The front flares were trimmed for clearance and Bestop front and rear bumpers provide protection. Up front a Ramsey Patriot 9500 winch sits on the bumper and out back the swing-away works with the tailgate latch to provide easy access to the Tuffy storage box and utility drawer.
The Superlift 4xAdventure Jeep caught our eye thanks to the Smittybilt fenders and House of Kolor paint. Well, that, and it looks like a real life Matchbox car. It might look like a Matchbox car because Superlift actually worked with Matchbox on the project to get the right look. A big part of that look is the wheels and tires, so Superlift went with custom Stazworks beadlocks with 42x14.50-17 Super Swamper Iroks. Underneath is a set of AxleTech portal boxes. You have to take this Jeep in the fun that it was intended. There were things on the spec sheet that we never expected to see on a Jeep. Tuxedo, grappling hook launcher, scuba equipment, and net launcher were but a few of the standouts. By the way, look for that custom roof rack to be offered in the not-too-distant future.
This OR Fabrication XJ was the only Cherokee we saw at the show and it had people around it whenever we went by. It was impossible to tell how much lift it had, but it had a coil conversion that cleared 37x12.50R17 Goodyear MT/Rs on Raceline Rock Monster beadlocks. Up front a three-link gets the job done while out back is a dual-triangulated four-link.
The front and rear armor and bumpers are OR Fab parts with the rear lower quarters cut and folded to match. Underneath is a Dynatrac Pro Rock Dana 44 front axle and out back a Trail Series Dana 44 got the nod. Up top is a Gobi roof rack that holds the spare tire and a Hi-Lift Jack.
Clean Oil Burner
We received the press release for a bolt-in swap of a Volkswagen 1.9L into a four-cylinder Jeep from HPA Motorsports a couple of months before the show and thought it was a good idea. Then we saw this YJ in person with the swap already done and we were convinced. It is a very clean and factory-looking swap. This particular swap also has an air-to-water intercooler and a tune that bumps power output to 190hp and 289 lb-ft and still sends power through the AX-5 and NP231.
A 4-inch lift clears 35x12.50R17 Goodyear MT/Rs on Pro Comp 8128 wheels. The front bumper and skidplates are Rugged Ridge units with the fenders and rockers coming from MetalCloak. The rear swing-away tire carrier, bumper, and the roof rack are Garvin Expedition products.
This MJ is one of our favorite Comanches and we were pleasantly surprised to see it at the show. It is very well thought out and very similar to how we'd build a desert exploration truck. It isn't built to beat on, but as you might expect from Adventure Trailers, it is built to get out; way out. A mild lift with some BFG KM2 tires on AEV Pintler wheels makes it pretty capable, but the real story here is out back.
An Adventure Trailers FlipPac converts the small bed of the MJ into a self-contained shelter that is easy to deploy. You can see the fridge and storage drawers that hold utensils and tools for cooking and repairs on the trail. The drawers also serve as a staircase to get up to the forward sleeping area, and everything is accessible whether the FlipPac is open or closed.
The Gearsafe was one of the more talked-about products at the show but we were surprised that people didn't mention the Gearsafe Jeep. It is an LJ with an AMC-era CJ nose grafted onto it. When the company told us what it was doing we cringed but the conversion looks really clean and we hope they do bring a kit to the market. This Jeep also has a rear winch bumper that uses the space between the two rear crossmembers to hide a winch.
The lightbar ties into the rockers which should keep the bar from ripping the windshield sheetmetal apart when it first touches a tree or rock. A Bestop bowless top, 315/70R17 Mickey Thompson Baja MTZs on Classic II rims, an ARB snorkel, and a M.O.R.E. rear bumper complete the exterior. In the cab are a Rock Hard 4x4 cage, an SPOD control panel, and a Tuffy center console.
Mail Order GI
Among all the glitz and glamour was this little fella. Like the other Jeeps at SEMA, it was built to showcase products, in this case restoration parts available from Omix-Ada. Like many Jeeps of this era, the exact origins of this one are somewhat shrouded in mystery. We noticed an extra fuel filter on the fire wall under the hood, but aside from that, without full dissection it sure looked factory original, right down to the smell of new canvas.
The 134ci four-cylinder still provides power and the Omix-rebuilt seats are the most comfortable flatfender seats we've ever sat in. An estimated 80 percent of the Jeep you see here came out of the Omix-Ada catalog.