It’s amazing more people at this show don’t get whiplash. The guy with the neck brace vending concession could make a mint. And we’re not just reacting to the inordinate amount of good-looking people at this show (if chiseled chins or excess cleavage were currency, this trade show would be billed as The One-Percenters). Of course, the most amazing aspect of the show is how many built vehicles can fit under four roofs and also fill a ginormous parking lot. And that doesn’t even count the two huge autocross test tracks where Mustangs and Corvettes lay down huge rubber stripes on the blacktop like kindergarteners lay finger-paints to paper. There is something vaguely child-like and youthful about this show as you walk the miles of carpet.
Sure there are plenty of show trucks (even products) that look and act more like an immature nightmare than a well-thought-out, fully functional rig you’d like to bring home, but that’s part of the beauty. You can walk for hours (or at least 30 minutes) without seeing anything worth a hoot, then, all of a sudden, something smacks you in the face and you have to smile.
That’s when the show rocks. Would everyone smile at the same product, problem-solver, widget, or show vehicle? Probably not. That’s why, for most of us, the coolest thing about the SEMA Show is actually in the hunt itself. What better place can you imagine to be looking for buried treasure? If you like trucks or cars or 4x4s or hot rods or one-offs or things you don’t have the words to describe, you’re bound to find something around the corner on in the next aisle that will take your breath away.
Here are a few of the treasures we found today.
This is a Candy Apple Red (with meta-flake) 1948 Chevy pickup that's been fully restored and lowered. The engine is a supercharged Magnuson LSX-376 backed up with a 4L60-E trasmission. Owners Frank and Mary Lawrence allowed Ironworks Speed and Customs, out of Bakersfield, CA, the honors of performing most of the detail work.
This 2011 F-350 Super Duty has a 10-inch SuperLift suspension, 41-inch Super Swamper tires, a massive exterior tube rollcage, and all the fire suppression gear you could want (tanks and hoses on both sides). This "MatchBox" creation was designed to put out a fire quickly once it gets to the fire quickly. Needless to say, this vehicle got a lot of attention.
This 2011 Wrangler (yes, we know it's not a pickup) is called the Call of Duty-Black Ops Jeep and it's builders are donating it to the Army Rangers to be raffled off, with all proceeds going to a foundation for the families of fallen Rangers. The Hemi engine and 5-speed transmission were taken straight out of a 2011 Ram. The details that got the most attention were the decommissioned .50 caliber roof-mounted gun, the 240 Gulf machine gun on the passenger side, and the many smaller (non-firing) firearms throughout.
This one stopped us in our tracks. A VW Amarok, imported from Mexico, sat quietly in the Roll-N-Lock bedcover booth, where it was being used as prop for salemen. The truth is the sliding cover (which installs in less than 30 minutes) not only will protect your valuables stored inside the bed, but it will also latch and lock to your tailgate, thus preventing anyone from opening the back of your truck or stealing your tailgate.
Ram Truck had a full-blown demonstration going all day long showing how to install a Mopar Stage III Ram Runner kit onto a brand new Ram 1500. They started at 9:15 AM and, with a crew of three guys, finishing the project before the end of the day. The guy pictured with his back to us held a microphone and explained what each mechanic was doing (and answered questions) every step of the way.
It's not every day you see a lifted one-ton dually built (and displayed) for rock crawling. This 2004 Chevy 3500 HD has a modified 12-inch BulletProof lift with 40-inch Interco tires. The front bumper, roof rack, and bed supports are all custom creations by the owner, Michael Murray. When asked why he built this creation, he replied, "Why not."
This might look like an early-60s Ford F-100 restoration but just about every piece of sheetmetal on this one-off has been chopped, channeled, or modified in some way. It started out as a parts runner but soon turned into a long-term family project. Called the PH-100, it runs a 302 engine and 4-speed auto with adjustable coilovers all around. And if you look at the front grille closely, you see it reads P H O R D.