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 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 at www.instagram.com/ 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 Speedhunters.com 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.