The an­nual SEMA show in Las Ve­gas is the world’s pre­mier au­to­mo­tive show. NZ4WD cor­re­spon­dent Budd Stan­ley re­ports from the 2016 event.


To a vic­tim of At­ten­tion Deficit Dis­or­der like my­self, SEMA is every bit a night­mare as it is au­to­mo­tive se­duc­tion. The con­stant bom­bard­ment of bright shiny ob­jects and big-wheeled cre­ations as­saults the mind with de­tailed in­for­ma­tion over­load. Match this with try­ing to work my way through 190,000 like­minded auto fa­nat­ics in a sim­i­lar drool­ing zom­bie-like state for ten hours a day and the brain takes a sav­age beat­ing. Re­gard­less, the 2016 SEMA Show is now in the books and I’ve stag­gered onto the first flight home, loaded down with busi­ness cards, prod­uct cat­a­logues and mem­ory sticks jammed full of fan­tas­tic new parts I one day dream of bolt­ing to my off-road­ers. My knees are scream­ing af­ter 14 hours of hik­ing a day, my feet are numb, but I ar­rived home grin­ning from ear to ear, drunk from the over­dose of con­cen­trated au­to­mo­tive mag­nif­i­cence, oxy­gen en­riched casi­nos and a daily dose of Red Bull. For 2016, the SEMA Show was much more sub­dued than in year’s past. Yes, the show was full of mag­nif­i­cent cre­ations, jaw­drop­ping at­ten­tion to de­tail and in­ge­nious new parts, equal­ized out with pain­fully over ex­ag­ger­ated mon­strosi­ties, dan­ger­ously en­gi­neered project fail­ures and parts that make you think “what were they think­ing?”

Thank­fully, the trends of paint­ing an en­tire ve­hi­cle with bed­liner and mount­ing 39 LED light­bars to a sin­gle Ute has calmed down for 2016. I also noted that the artis­tic im­pres­sion of this year’s show was up dras­ti­cally, with many ve­hi­cles fea­tur­ing hand-carved body­work that look as though months of work were put into just the aes­thetic de­tails of a given ve­hi­cle. Re­gard­less, we give you a se­lect sam­ple of the cool, the awe­some and the ugly of SEMA 2016.

Budd Stan­ley

Budd Stan­ley is the Edi­tor of 4WDrive Mag­a­zine based in Canada, call­ing both New Zealand and his na­tive Canada home. Wary, broke and sore from toss­ing rally cars into forests, he has turned to a slower and more ad­ven­tur­ous form of four­wheel kicks, writ­ing about and pho­tograph­ing his ad­ven­tures across three con­ti­nents at the wheel of a 4WD, and even picked up a Guin­ness World Record along the way. Budd can be fol­lowed on In­sta­gram at­sta­ bud­dstan­ley

When your cen­tre of grav­ity is over two me­tres above ground, you’re too damn tall. We can ap­pre­ci­ate the Amer­i­can motto of “big­ger is bet­ter,” but a very short man with a large syn­drome must own this cus­tom-built Bronco. While this Ram looks ar­moured, it just isn’t. The metal mak­ing up the rear box and win­dows is any­thing but ar­mour plat­ing, but tacked to­gether pa­per-thin sheet steel. How­ever, this is a movie prop for the up­com­ing Fast 8 movie, so we can let that go.

Fab Fours re­deemed them­selves from last year’s Jeep mon­stros­ity, show­ing up with this mid-en­gine, 5.9L Cum­mins turbo diesel pow­ered Chevro­let Colorado. Yeah, it still has a metal Mo­hawk, but FF makes up for this with Fox Tro­phy Truck rac­ing sus­pen­sion, MRAP axles and some in­cred­i­ble fab skills. AEV al­ways show up with some of the nicest and clean­est builds at SEMA and this Ram HD “Prospec­tor XL” cer­tainly proves that point. Fea­tur­ing sev­eral AEV parts, the new 40” tyres and re­sult­ing body­work to make said tyres fit rep­re­sent the “XL” side of the nomen­cla­ture. This HiLift Jeep TJ was likely the best ready-to-get-into-ac­tion ve­hi­cle at SEMA ‘16. With a stretched wheel­base, prop­erly large tyres and a slight lift, this Jeep has al­ready proved it­self on the slick rock of Moab. This thing has seen the world... a cou­ple of times over. Based on a Ford F-550 Su­per Duty, Tur­tle Ex­pe­di­tion’s built a cus­tom camper that has been their home away from home for nearly 15 years, no­tably cross­ing Siberia in the midst of win­ter. Back to the ridicu­lous side of SEMA, this Jeep Wran­gler is as point­less as it looks. It’s just not the US of A if your off-roader isn’t com­bat-ready with a set of Gatling guns mounted ei­ther side. And the ar­moured gull wing doors… yeah, that’s ABS plas­tic. The FJ60 Land Cruiser never gets its full due in the off-road world, it’s the ugly duck­ling cursed with two very pop­u­lar broth­ers. How­ever, the pho­to­jour­nal­ists over at Speed­ built this very clean and well put to­gether FJ60, that was sur­pris­ingly trail-ready de­spite be­ing built by the per­for­mance and stance crowd.

Sit­ting in the Pit­bull tyres booth and own­ing the build­ing, Hauk has beau­ti­fully mar­ried fine art and trail-crush­ing me­chan­i­cals into one bril­liant off-roader. The gun theme is so preva­lent that we could even smell cordite em­a­nat­ing from the cab. There’s just not enough space to prop­erly de­scribe just how jaw drop­ping this rig was, both me­chan­i­cally and aes­thet­i­cally. High five Hauk, and apolo­gies for the drool stains. The Power Wagon has been an icon of the Amer­i­can off-road scene, but this par­tic­u­lar ex­am­ple dubbed the Boot­leg­ger, is spe­cial. The Boot­leg­ger gets its mo­ti­va­tion from a 536kW (720hp) su­per­charged LS3 that sends its power to a Dana 60 up front and a 14-bolt in the rear, spin­ning In­terco mud ter­rains. Slap on some brass trim and toss a JD bar­rel and still in the back and you have one cool theme ve­hi­cle. Ever heard of Alkane? No, nei­ther have we, un­til we came across this very boxy 4WD hold­ing sta­tion at the Line-X booth. At first we thought it was just an­other un­rec­og­niz­able Jeep JK, but upon fur­ther in­spec­tion we found this to be a spe­cial ve­hi­cles man­u­fac­turer’s line of 4WD ser­vice ve­hi­cles that in­cor­po­rates some re­ally cool real world think­ing.

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