Wish list in Sin City
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 rearwheel 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.