The annual SEMA show in Las Vegas Nevada, is filled with expensive cars and trucks. Many are just for show, while some are actually functional and have real utility. We like utility, power, traction, and occasionally a little show when it’s done with taste. In a vast field of nearly useless show trucks we separate out a few of the off-road “Picasos” from the automotive “boy-band wall posters” we saw on SEMA 2016 Day Three.
One of the coolest rigs we saw on day three of SEMA 2016 wasn’t even a 4wd, although it is definitely off-road. Our friend Mel Wade told us to look for this unique truck infront of the south hall. This black 2016 Colorado Z-71 belongs to and was built by Cris Payne. The truck has a 2.8L Duramax Diesel with one of a few twin turbo kits in the US installed.
Payne’s Colorado is extensively modified with an LSK long travel suspension, lots of clean tubework, tasteful lighting, functional skid plates and bumpers and more. We also really like the wide stance with fiberglass fenders covering General Tire’s new Grabber X3s. We bet this truck is fast in the dirt, and Payne says he has no issues daily driving the Colorado. We love it!
If we were betting types we’d bet everthing retro will keep on being cool. Why? Well retro off-road rigs are timeless and seeing them helps everyone bring back their favorite memories of playing in the dirt. The NORRA Mexican 1000 in a 70s Ford sounds amazing.
Our pals from Rugged Radios built this 4wd RZR based Manx buggy and we love it. From the sparkly bass boatesque blue paint to the custom tubework this is one side-by-side we wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in. The low back suspension seats and surf board sure are nice touches. Again retro is cool. Keep it up.
Greg Henderson built this cool XJ/JKU mashup called Pathfinder. Henderson has built a few other rigs that mash different iconic Jeep parts to create vehicles that are utilitarian and flat out cool. His ideas are unique and not over the top and hell everyone loves the old boxy Cherokee look. Combine it with the amazing capability of the JKU and voila something that just makes sense.
This 60s Dodge body is sitting on a 2015 Ram truck chassis. That’s a great combination. The crew cab has been extended (early mega cab?) for plenty of inside space in what is one cool retro tow rig. The wheels are a bit too bling for our tastes, and that front bumper isn’t exactly what we would have gone with, but this is one cool retro-tastic Power Wagon.
Finnegan’s Stubby Bob is pretty cool for a wheely car, but that’s about where the utility ends. Still repurposing any old heavy-duty farm truck is a great idea. They should be cheap (cause they are big and probably don’t run) and with patina, broken glass, and a beam front axle, are ripe for solid axle 4x4 conversions. If we had Bob we would have left the chassis a bit longer, tucked a junkyard V-8 under the hood, found a rusty Dana 44 or Dana 60 front axle on leaves and had one hell of a retro cool off-road shop truck.
Did we mention that we like patina? The Trophy Rat is internet infamous, and the idea is cool…but again we’d have done things a little bit differently. Patina and rust help hide dents and scars from the trail plus you never have to wash or wax it!
Restored or surviving vintage 4x4s are awesome. Period correct aftermarket parts and a little trail damage just adds to the story. These two restored Toyotas we saw at SEMA should get just about any wheelers heart beating a little faster.
Apparently flat nosed Willys trucks and Wagons are hot. This one is a pretty darn cool parallel to Tech Editor Verne Simons’s Wicked Willys that was on Ultimate Adventure 2016.
Always remember to be humble and don’t judge a book by its cover. Not all SEMA show cars are just flash and flare. Before UA 2016 many thought that Skyjacker’s American flag JKU was all fluff and no filling (although we all loved the theme of old glory), but after a few days on the trail with Lonnie McCurrie JR at the wheel, those who doubted that this Jeep was more than a pretty face had to eat crow. This Show Jeep wears its battle scars from UA just as proudly as its custom paint job and extensive accessories. Course it has the right parts where it counts like a well tuned suspension and Dynatrac axles.