Wish list in Sin City

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - News - CRAIG DUFF

BET on SEMA while you’re in Las Ve­gas and you’re on a win­ner.

Ac­com­mo­da­tion is booked out in Sin City as the an­nual au­to­mo­tive show for the Spe­cialty Equip­ment Mar­ket As­so­ci­a­tion drags in about 170,000 tuners, re­stor­ers and smash re­pair ex­perts.

For many, SEMA is a on­estop shop to check the new­est tech­niques and tech­nolo­gies. For oth­ers, it’s an op­por­tu­nity to ogle the lat­est pro­duc­tion mod­els and the wild cus­toms based on stan­dard cars.

Car brands give ve­hi­cles to pre­ferred af­ter­mar­ket tuners specif­i­cally to show at SEMA, rea­son­ing that if passers-by like the con­cept they’re likely to buy the base car and start their own cus­tomi­sa­tion. Here are some of this year’s show high­lights. Fiat Chrysler’s per­for­mance and parts divi­sion is one of the big­gest play­ers at SEMA and this year had six mod­i­fied ve­hi­cles on show.

Mopar ac­ces­sories and per­for­mance se­nior man­ager Todd Bed­dick says the con­cepts are aimed to get feed­back from SEMA at­ten­dees. If they like what’s on show, there’s ev­ery chance those parts will make their way into the Mopar cat­a­logue.

Head­ing the line-up was the Dodge Shake­down Chal­lenger. The 1971 body has been shaved of drip rails, door han­dles and the fuel cap (which now re­sides in the boot) and the orig­i­nal chas­sis was ditched for a hand­built frame on which to hang the re­mov­able body.

The big­gest news is un­der the bon­net, where a new 6.4litre (392 cu in) Hemi “crate kit” en­gine has been fit­ted. The 362kW V8, with en­gine com­puter and wiring loom, is now a reg­u­lar Mopar part.

It joins a 5.7-litre crate en­gine in the cat­a­logue, for retrofitting to ve­hi­cles back to 1975, fi­nally giv­ing re­stor­ers a fac­tory Hemi trans­plant.

The Jeep CJ66 con­cept mixes a 2004 Wrangler TJ chas­sis, a 1966 CJ body and mod­ern JK in­ter­nals, all com­ple­mented by Mopar parts in­clud­ing the 17-inch bead­lock wheels.

The Dodge Du­rango Shaker is a unique take on the reg­u­lar seven-seat SUV. Mopar has re­con­fig­ured the in­te­rior to take six Viper seats, low­ered the ride height by 75mm and fit­ted a Shaker bon­net to feed air into the Hemi en­gine. Ap­pointed to take the Veloster to the next level, tuner Gur­nade added a racer-in­spired ex­te­rior and ma­jor mods to the chas­sis and en­gine. The 1.6-litre turbo gets a new in­ter­cooler and coldair in­take and the chas­sis has coil-over sus­pen­sion, meatier brakes and 19-inch wheels with race rub­ber.

The dressed-up body­work gets a car­bon-fi­bre spoiler, bon­net and side sills while a roll cage, rac­ing seats and mas­sive au­dio grace the in­te­rior.

Hyundai pre­viewed its Santa Fast con­cept last week but re­leased more de­tails of its col­lab­o­ra­tion with tun­ing house Bisi­moto. Its 775kW rear- wheel drive tyre-shred­der has a pro­duc­tion 3.8-litre V6 fit­ted with a pair of tur­bocharg­ers and stronger in­ter­nals to cope with the grunt, while cus­tom axles and drive­shafts help stop the torque from twist­ing the driv­e­train to pieces. A pair of MX-5s takes cen­tre stage for Mazda. The Speed­ster Evo­lu­tion con­cept is about 160kg lighter than a reg­u­lar soft-top, while the RF Kuro is a unique take on the re­tractable fast­back that goes on sale in Aus­tralia early next year. M Per­for­mance parts is the big news for BMW — it draped some ac­ces­sories on an M3 and 7 Series to show the pun­ters just how sharp the dress-up bits can be. The list in­cludes al­loy wheels, ad­justable coilover sus­pen­sion, car­bon-fi­bre wings and remapped en­gine soft­ware. The Civic Type-R pro­to­type, flown from the Paris mo­tor show, shared the stand with a range of ac­ces­sorised and tuned Civic vari­ants, rang­ing from a reg­u­lar hatch with bling ga­lore to the 450kW global ral­ly­cross car. The com­pany also has tuned and tweaked ver­sions of its mo­tor­cy­cle range.

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