Although it seems much longer, our week-long tour of the 2011 SEMA Show finished just ten days ago. It’s always a bittersweet moment when we have to pack up--there are notepads to collect, business cards to organize, and pounds and pounds of product and catalog info on everything from custom builders to trick towing products. We always leave 50 pounds heavier than when we arrived.
Still, this show will stick with us for a while. At once overwhelming and a huge resource for very specific problem-solving ideas, the SEMA show needs to be on every automotive enthusiast’s bucket list. Admittedly, it’s a difficult experience to communicate to those who have never been, but we’ve tried by offering several ground-level looks at some of the trucks at the show. And we’re guessing we’ll have some product stories out of this year’s event as well throughout the coming year.
Here are some of our favorite vehicles of the show.
CGS Performance Products created this 2011 Ford F-150 with more than 500 horsepower via a Whipple twin-screw supercharger. The lowered truck rides on Belltech suspension and uses Baer six-piston disc brakes to stop its momentum. An aluminum hood, Colorado Custom wheels and Paramount Restyling grille decorate an exterior covered in DuPont black and Boyd Red paint. Inside are seats upholstered with red Pecca leather and VizuaLogic headrest monitors.
The truck is named “Tarmac” and is owned and built by Casey Scranton of Chino, Calif. It was our prime pick for the 2011 Sony Gran Turismo Truck/SUV Awards, given each year to the best pickup or sport-ute of the show. And Casey got a nice, big trophy. This year, not surprisingly, the overall winner was a Camaro. Pickups get no love from GT.
We sat down with Pietro Gorlier, the CEO of Mopar, to talk a little bit about pickup trucks. Clearly, much of the attention has been on the Ram 1500, with the new Ram Runner kit making a strong play to call out the Ford’s SVT Raptor to the desert racetrack, as well as showing the “SRT Powered” 392 Quick Silver concept in Las Vegas. For those who might not know, the Quick Silver had the 6.4-liter V-8 under the hood and was dressed to look much like what we’d imagine an SRT Ram might look like. Many may remember the SRT-10 and the records it set on the track.
“We wanted to give those Ram fans something to think about,” Pietro said when discussing the lowered street-truck Ram. “We can’t say anything about a future SRT pickup, but whatever you want to think is fine with us.” Still, wouldn’t it be a smart move for Mopar, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, to offer this kit like they have the Ram Runner? Or better yet, why not cut the SRT engineers loose and bring back a 400- or 500-hp street performer? We’ll see.
West Coast Customs put together this new Tundra Double Cab for DC Shoes and Toyota, creating the ultimate motocross race-support vehicle. The tailgate swings out like a door, and the truck bed houses a sturdy motorcycle ramp in a hidden bed-length slot. Heavy-duty tie-downs will secure any bike, and two hidden storage compartments on either side of bed can hold a generator, water pump and hoses, air compressors, and tools.
The front and rear bumpers, roof rack and side steps are all customized as well. To top off the rugged support vehicle, the entire exterior was sprayed in Line-X heavy-duty bedliner to protect against dents and scratches. Interior mods were subtle compared with the exterior look. We don’t expect Toyota to offer anything like this anytime soon.
Every year on the show floor, there is always one vehicle that captures the attention of builders and companies with show booths, both hoping to attract the fleeting attention of a passer-by. This year it was Mopar’s JK8 kit (and maybe the Raptor, just like last year), which converts a four-door Jeep Wrangler into a smallish Jeep pickup. Our favorite was the conversion done by V Werks for Red Jacket Firearms (from the reality show “Sons of Guns” on the Discovery Channel).
V Werks does a lot of custom engineering of products for Jeep and Ram truck products, and, we’re told, V Werks will come out with something special next year for the Ram pickup. This particular conversion was done extremely well, which shouldn’t surprise us since V Werks has a few Mopar refugees that helped design and perfect the actual conversion kit. We expect to hear more from V Werks for a long time to come.
Maybe it was just us, but any time a booth had a Raptor in it, there always seemed to be a crowd around it. Like last year, most of the Raptors at the show were SuperCabs with some kind of body mod. SuperCrew Raptors are still the biggest sellers, but they were oddly rare at the show. We found this one hiding right out in the open.
We know we did a video on the AEV Brute Double Cab, but this is one of those vehicles that stick with you. Speaking with some of the guys at American Expeditions Vehicles, I could almost taste the excitement as they described how important this vehicle is to them and how much attention it was getting at this year’s show. Pricing will be a huge issue for this product. From what they said, they’re going to try to aggressively price this Double Cab model right on top of the previous non-Double Cab Brute model, meaning about $10,000 for the kit, and another $10,000 for installation. That might sound expensive, given that you have to bring them $30,000, and the kit doesn’t include any upgraded suspension parts, wheel and tire swaps, or other of the parts AEV offers. In fact, you’re new Brute Double Cab might look a little sad. But it will be a Jeep pickup.
This is another vehicle we shot a video about but didn’t get to show off the interior for very long. The accents and design were well-done. In fact, influences reminded us of the top-level Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland touches. The anodized red inlays around the gauges, air-conditioning vents, steering wheel, and on the center console really make the interior pop.
Additionally, the seat supports and material choices were like nothing we’ve seen from Ram. We hope that if Chrysler gives Ram the greenlight to produce an SRT truck, they keep the level of interior refinement of this “concept” vehicle all the way to production. Of course, the power and handling of the truck will be paramount, but saving money on interior choices is a Ram practice that must stop, especially on a premium performance vehicle.