Top 11 SEMA Trucks From Our Man in the Field

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By Larry Edsall

We’ve left Las Vegas and the 2011 SEMA show, but we have strong memories of the trucks that grabbed our attention. There were actually many more trucks of interest than we’re including in this post, but we’re limiting this to 11 vehicles.

2011 Ford F-150 Pro Football Hall of Fame pickup

ARE is known for its pickup bed caps and tonneau covers. It’s based in Massillon, Ohio, which, along with nearby Canton, is considered to be the birthplace of what we now know as the National Football League. ARE and the Pro Football Hall of Fame worked together to create this special truck, which has an interior covered in pigskin leather. Beneath the ARE LSX Series tonneau is a pop-up flat-screen and swing-out grille for tailgating, as well as a slide-out bed tray full of historic pro football artifacts.

1958 Chevrolet El Nomado

Chevrolet didn’t make an El Camino in 1958; the car-based truck wasn’t introduced until the 1959 model year. But Joe Cherry wanted a ’58, so he set out to build his own. Cherry, who lives in upstate New York, started with a 1958 Chevrolet Nomad station wagon and, five years later, ended up with his El Nomado. Cherry did a two-inch chop on the cab, and he used the original liftgate as a rear window. Features include a 348-cubic-inch-displacement power plant topped by a trio of Rochester 2 barrels, Powerglide transmission, disc brakes, RideTech air suspension, seats from a Chrysler 300 covered in custom leather, custom console and gauge cluster, Vintage Air air conditioning, 18-inch Boyd Coddington Crown Jewel wheels and, of course, that PPG Brickyard Red paint applied in four stages over cranberry primer. 

2012 Ford F-650 Hollow Point by Mobsteel

Want your truck to be as intimidating as a visit from the local mafia chieftain? You might want to use this F-650 as your template. Based in the Detroit suburb of Brighton, Mich., Mobsteel specializes in enhancing Detroit iron, encasing it in its own trademark Mobsteel Black PPG paint. And if the exterior isn’t already intimidating enough, inside there are hand-tooled Glock holsters and magazine racks. Here are some other details: The frame was shortened and notched; the body was channeled over the frame; and custom grille and tanks and other bits were created, including those 24-inch Aztec wheels. Inside there are 2,600 watts of JL Audio equipment and a pair of 20-inch monitors.

Wild Boar Jeep 6x6 Pickup

Want to get off the grid? Wild Boar Products is the parts company of What-A-Rack and Landrunner conversions, and it focuses not on pickup trucks, but on Jeeps. Its latest project turns a four-door Jeep into a triple-axle 6x6 go-anywhere pickup truck equipped with an over-sized auxiliary gas tank so you can go anywhere for a long time without having to search for the nearest gas station. This different kind of duallie looks cool but we're guessing without steerable rear axles, they'll be wearing out the rear tires pretty fast with that kind of wheelbase. 

Red Jacket Firearms Jeep Pickup

Among the heads turned by this SEMA special were those from the Las Vegas Police Department, who pulled over this Jeep pickup as it entered their jurisdiction and inquired about that cannon mounted above the pickup bed. Turns out it’s merely a modified T-shirt launcher like those used to propel souvenirs into the stands at sports events. This Jeep-turned-pickup Mopar JK8 conversion is a joint effort by auto supplier and modifier Venchurs V Werks of Adrian, Mich., Red Jacket Firearms, and the Discovery Channel’s “Sons of Guns” TV show. We hear there will be a few more exciting vehicles coming from V Werks in the near future because its VP of product development engineering is the same guy who helped develop the Ram Runner and Mopar JK8 kits (Pat Muldoon) and he told us to keep our eyes peeled. 

2011 Ford Raptor Luxury Prerunner

Does the name Ivan Stewart pique your interest? Stewart’s Raceworks is the company launched by the Ironman’s son, Craig, to create custom off-road vehicles, including this 2011 Raptor “luxury prerunner.” The “luxury” comes from features such as leather interior, six-way power-adjustable MasterCraft seats, dual-zone air conditioning, a 10-inch Lowrance GPS screen, Kenwood racing radios and intercom, and Momo steering wheel on a tilting column. The fiber-glass body wears Lamborghini Yellow paint from Balboa. Other features include a power-adjustable high-intensity-discharge light bar, built-in toolbox and a pair of spare 39-inch BFGoodrich tires. The “prerunner” capability comes from goodies such as a TIG-welded chassis, 26 inches of front-wheel travel and 31 inches of rear-wheel travel, a 70-gallon fuel tank, 600-horsepower Patton Racing engine and a 10-inch rear differential.

1968 Boss 351 Trans-Am Ford Ranchero

Believe it or not, this 1968 Ford Ranchero was a junkyard shell that took Galpin Auto Sports eight weeks to turn into a pickup-style homage to a classic Trans-Am racing series Mustang. Details include a vintage Boss 351 V-8 rated at 450 hp, a four-speed gearbox modified for road racing, a Currie 9-inch rear and 3:89 Trac-Lok gears. Total Control Products coil-overs are up front with a Maeco Motorsport road-racing rear setup. Four-wheel discs are Wilwood. There’s a safety cage and Scat Elite bucket seats with five-point racing harnesses, but also the original factory-installed AM radio.

No Compromise Dualie

OK, we admit we really don’t know much about this truck, except that its body-less chassis and powertrain were displayed at SEMA with a couple of signs headlined “No Compromise” that featured the logos of various sponsoring supplier companies, including Advanced Plating of Nashville, Tenn. A lack of information about a vehicle and its owner was a real frustration for us this year at SEMA. Folks, when you show your vehicles, you need to at least have the owner’s name and some sort of contact information or website on display as well.

Tito's Memorial

Perhaps the best example of what we mentioned above is this truck. All we know by looking at it is that it was completed as a memorial to “Tito,” who was born in 1968 and died in 2011.

1956 Ford F-750 Big Job

Lonn and Jackie Burrows of Riverton, Utah, created their Big Job pickup by marrying a 1956 Ford F-750 with a modern Chevrolet 3500 cab chassis. A Duramax diesel provides the power, boosted by some goodies from Banks and other powertrain suppliers. The big truck rides on Auto Air Ride suspension, has heated and ventilated seats, and has a B&W gooseneck ball towing hitch. We know we mentioned this truck before in an earlier post, but if ever there was a truck that deserved a second or third look, this is the one. 

Volkswagen Amarok

Believe if or not, an almost box-stock truck can be a showstopper at SEMA, at least when that pickup is a Volkswagen Amarok. Actually, a pair of the you-can’t-have-it compact pickups was at SEMA. This one — white with custom wheels — was at the display for Extang, Bedrug, UnderCover, TruXedo and Advantage Truck Accessories. Another nearby Amarok was equipped with a Roll-N-Lock tonneau cover and cargo manager, was at the Roll-N-Lock display. All of the above companies make aftermarket equipment for the folks in Mexico, Central America and South America who are allowed to buy and own this nifty Vdub. This one had the turbodiesel that the salesguy told us was getting 32 mpg.


The Amarok looks great. I wish some truck manufacturer would actually make a compact pickup with a turbodiesel.... and actually sell it in the U.S.!

I would gladly take; any of the Jeeps, the Raptor, or the Ranchero Boss 351!

That slammed frame is a waste of a one-ton chassis!

Is Volkswagen re-badging the Datsun Frontier, such as Suzuki with the Equator, to get into the pickup market? Like they have done with the Routan (Chrysler Town & Country).

All these high ended up trucks and the 32mpg amarok stands out as the best, not a volkswagon fan but man that would get the other automakers to try to keep up.

For more info on "Tito's Memorial" go to

The RAM Quicksilver and Ram Runner's should be on the list !!!

...c'mon a VW truck lol ,that a "Sales Guy" told you it gets 32 mpg...!!! Sorry in an average driving setting the VW is a 18-21 mpg truck !!! Just like the over hyped Eco-Boost F-150 ,it gets 15-17 average mpg !!!

SEMA Looks like it has an Aussie slant:
6X6 Conversions are common here on all sorts of vehicles.

ElCaminos and Rancheros we have the US versions of the Ute in Australia as well
A 396 cu in 1971 El Camino with Victoria Australian plates.
A customized El Camino:

@Buy American the Amarok is a very impressive Pickup, but big worry about small 2 Litre engine and VW electrics.

That Nomad and Ranchero are sub-zero cool.

No Toyotas made the list. Not a single one.

Seems to me like that F650 thing would have been better executed as an F350 with the 650 clip.
@Mark Williams- that Wild Boar 6x6: There's been speculation that the roof-rack wasnt attatched much in the rear. and that the rear axle was just hanging out, and that the front was supported by jack-stands...
@Buy American Or Say Bye To America!- no, its their own concoction, and the (pointless) Routan is NA only. They have much better vans for the rest of the world.
@Robert Ryan- its amazing what you guys turn to down there without proper 1ton Duallies to haul campers. I know off-road, a 6x6 has its place.
@Jason- uh, yeah. Not the best showing. I'll bet they had some decent car stuff, though.

No Toyota's at the show?

Plenty of solid built Toyota's at SEMA but you know some sites are biased to make sales...

It's Ok, i'm sure next year's show will be SO dominated by Toyota and the "new" Chevy's that Ford and Dodge wont even both to show up!

or not! LOL!!!

Anyone know why VW is not offering it's pickup here in the US?

Seems like it would make a lot more sense for them to offer it here then in other marlets, sense pickups still clearly dominate the US market.

@ flwetmgr , it would have to be built here to be competitive in price and that would require an investment vw isn't confident it could recouperate

Where are the ones in Mexico being made. I would think the Free trade act would allow them to cross into the states as long as they make the propper safty and emmision changes for the US market.

Given they offer all there cars here with a Diesel option, I would think there pickup could be made to meet the emmision stds, probably at some expenses to the fuel mileage they are touting to be in the 30s, likley mid 20s by the time you add the US emmisions to it. Just looking at it, the VW does not look as crude as the Mahindra, and they had it to where it would meet US saftey stds, how I don't know, but from what I read, the standards were met.


Where are the Amarok's built now? If it's Mexico, I don't see why they cant just ship them over the border like some American automakers do. It would be awesome to have another midsize available to compete with the tacoma, colorado and frontier.

I could very well be wrong but Mexico has very different import laws and tarrifs. Japanese products are subject to very high import tarriffs and repair shops often will travel 10 - 12 hours to purchase parts here in the U.S. to save money. It's possible the Amarok is built in South Africa or some other country that doesn't face those same taxes.

Mexico has always had cool products like the 4-door previous gen international Ranger (I don't know where it was built). Come to think of it, they had the 2-door Ram Charger in the '94-'02 body style. That was a ride to be envious of.

@fleetmgr, @toycrusher84 @WhOUbU It is Argentina, not Mexico where they are built. Argentina is not part of NAFTA.

@fleetmgr I have to say it, the current F150, is more crude than the Amarok in some aspects. No there is absolutely no comparison between the extremely crude Mahindra and virtually any other small diesel pickup going around.

@MrKnowitall In many cases "the alternatives" work better for a particular job. I have seen a 6X6 F250 Truck Camper. Most of these conversions are to raise GVM and improve traction off road with a load.

@MrKnowitall Now the silly, a 6X6 Queensland registered 1982 Cadillac La Salle

My name is Mike Barcia I brought out the 1996 Chevrolet Dually chassis to SEMA. I am from Tampa FL. My name was on the Sponsorship board but it was small print. Let me know what info you are looking for Thanks for the TOP 11 !!!!

The image for the Tito truck is incorrect, it is the green and black 53 that was next to it, the bare metal chopped truck belongs to 'Pops' built by IF Customs...

Tito is Courtney Halowell, cofounder of Street Trucks magazine, editor worked on Truckin, Mini Truckin, Street Chopper, Baggers, World of RODS, Drive, Muscle Car Power and many other magazines over 20 years...he passed away in July, Devious Customs and many friends finished this truck for him.

Thats not Tito's truck and the frame is Mike Barcia's.

Indeed a nice post. I have been doing the research work in auto body industry and enjoy to read the new and informative stuff on auto body industry. Thanks for posting such a nice stuff and hope you will be publishing such quality posts over the coming days.

Maybe I completely missed it... but I believe PUT.C missed the Suburban equipped with a 4.5 duramax diesel, because I have a picture of it! I've browsed the news here, and have yet to see a posting of it.

they ruined the truck with the chevy parts in my opinion. I like chevy but put chevy in chevy and ford in ford etc.

anyone know what kind of custom wheels were on the amarok on this picture ??

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