I’m going to start with a blatant disclamer, the SEMA show is HUGE! And as such it’s not easy to pick the best of anything because it’s impossible to see everything in the 4 or 5 days that we get to attend. On top of that it’s a headspinning procedure to just get around at the show with over 100,000 people attending. But there were a few things I saw that I really enjoyed, and from those I’ll wittle it down to these top few. I’m not going to lie and say I saw everything that was at the show, and honestly everytime I saw friends walking the show I asked what it was that really stood out for them, but here are my top 4.
I have used lots of coolers when off roading, but the plug in 12-volt powered Fridge Freezer is one of the best you can buy. It’s more expensive than most any ice cooler, but when your sandwich isn’t floating in melted ice water you’ll thank me. ARB revealed a new heavy duty stainless-steel bodied Fridge Freezer and it’s on my x-mas list for 2016. ARB used to make steel bodied fridges and then switch to plastic cases which are perfect for inside you hard topped overlanding machine, but if you have a pickup and that cooler rides outside we’ve seen the plastic fade bad after a long time in the sun. This new 63 quart cooler is packed with high tech upgrades, a lockable top (to defend against overly thirsty friends), interior light for after dark beverage hunting and is both weatherproof and more resistant to riding out in the open than other offerings.
The Cummins 2.8L diesel crate engine and the Advance Adapters bellhousing adapter are my second pick for the coolest products of SEMA 2016. I fully admit I am biased in this because I worked with both companies to install the prototype engine swap in my own Jeep Wrangler TJ, but I still think it’s pretty cool. Advance Adapters has the bellhousing adapters to put the engine up to the standard Jeep 4.0L manual transmissions so far and is looking at other transmission options as well. Cummins is inches away from having full California Air Resource Board (CARB) approval for these cool little diesels to be swap legal in 1999 and older vehicles. Plus Cummins is working on newer vehicles and larger displacement crate engines as well. Finally, a small lightweight diesel engine perfect for a Jeep.
American Expedition Vehicles has done it again. Their new wheel is a conglomeration of great ideas finally brought to the aftermarket Jeep world. The bolt together beadlock is great for off road, and the bolt on ring but traditional style fake-beadlock is popular amongst more street Jeeps that want the look of performance. AEV ticks both boxes with a new beadlock wheel that can also be a non-beadlock for the Jeep driver who doesn’t want to bother with servicing beadlock bolt torque or is worried about street legality. The wheels are 8 ½ when in non beadlock setup and 9 ½ inches wide when in beadlock assembly. Plus the Wheels look great. Expect them offered in 17-inch with a Jeep JK Wrangler bolt pattern with other options in development.
There is innovative like why didn’t I think of that, and then there is innovative like I’m really not sure how that can work, but it sure is different. The folks from Any Level Lift had something so outside the box it was hard to wrap your head around. This is a hydraulically controlled suspension that used a weird scissoring track bar and triangulated link arms to keep the front axle centered under the truck while lifting and lowering the truck, in this case a Ford Super Duty. Plus the steering draglink has a similar design for driveability. It is complicated and has a lot going on, but I really can’t say that it is a bad idea. I’m usually skeptical when I see weird wacky suspension stuff at first, but I can’t for the life of me come up with a reason this won’t work. Kuddos for trying something new.