SEMA Show 2010: The Top 25 Cars and Trucks
As far as the automotive aftermarket is concerned, the annual SEMA (Speciality Equipment Marketing Association, for the acronym averse) Show in Las Vegas is bigger than every holy day from every religion mashed together, sprinkled with yeast and baked into a convention center-sized cake. Whether it’s wheels, engines, body kits, electronics…you name it, you can probably find it at the SEMA Show.
But it isn’t just parts and accessories that show up at this industry-only shindig; many automakers show up with customized versions of their wares. Some of these rides are tuned in-house, while some are farmed out to independent shops for their own unique takes on a particular model. And some shops just buy a car and reimagine it on their own without any involvement from the OEM. This year’s SEMA Show has scores of spectacular vehicles from all three categories, so we had to bump our usual top picks list up from 10 to 25. Without further ado, here they are…
Chevrolet Camaro SSX Track Car Concept
Looking to prove that the new Camaro has seriously muscular performance to go with its seriously muscular looks, Chevrolet has created the Camaro SSX Track Car Concept. As the name implies, it’s been tweaked with time attacking and hot lapping in mind, with carbon fiber body panels and an interior shorn of frivoloties such as a radio, rear seats, carpet and sound deadening to shed weight, as well as an SCCA-approved roll cage, racing seat with five-point harness, fuel cell and fire supression system to keep you safe should you happen to run out of talent.
RK Collection Toyota Camry
One of the most common complaints levied against NASCAR these days is that the vehicles competing have nothing in common with their roadgoing counterparts, save the basic shapes of the grilles and exterior lights which are, in fact, stickers on the race cars. With this in mind, Rob Kauffman and his tuning company RK Collection have built the 2-door, V8, rear-wheel-drive Toyota Camry seen here. Why a Camry? Kauffman is also the co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing. And it’s not just any V8 under the hood; it’s an EFI-fed version of Toyota Racing Development’s NASCAR V8, putting down 680hp through a 6-speed stick. Now if only carmakers had to build a certain number of these things in order to compete in NASCAR…
RIDES Hyundai Sonata Turbo
With 274hp on tap, Hyundai’s new Sonata Turbo is hardly the dullest transportation appliance under the sun. But aside from a “2.0T” badge and some other detail changes, it looks pretty much the same as the normally aspirated Sonata. The team at RIDES magazine sought to rectify that situation, and this is their vision brought to life. The one-off body kit features Audi-inspired LED foglights in the reworked front fascia, rocker panel extensions and a more aggressive rear fascia with cutouts for the four exhaust tips. Smoked headlight and taillight lenses, blacked out beltline trim and 20” wheels complete the exterior, while a custom leather and suede interior and a sound system anchored by a pair of 12” JBL subwoofers can be found underneath.
Dodge Challenger SRT8 392
No one can accuse the new generation Dodge Challenger of being a shrinking violet, particularly in SRT8 form. But thanks to increased pressure from Ford and Chevrolet, Dodge has upped the SRT8’s ante for 2011 by punching the Hemi V8 out from 6.1L to 6.4L. Output climbs to 470hp and 470 lb.-ft (compared to 425hp and 420 lb.-ft), yet fuel economy also rises by 15 to 20 percent. To commemorate the new powerplant, Dodge will be building 1,492 of these be-striped special editions, which will be hitting dealers after Thanksgiving. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the “392” is a nod to the new mill’s displacement in cubic inches; an unrelated 392 cubic inch “Firepower” Hemi V8 was used by Chrysler and Imperial in 1957 and ’58.
0-60 Magazine Lexus GS450h
With recent additions to the Lexus hybrid family like the HS250h and CT200h compact front-drivers, it’s easy to forget that Toyota’s luxury brand also sells a mid-size, rear-drive sedan in the form of the GS450h. To help jog people’s memories, Lexus handed a GS450h off to Mike Spinelli and the lads at 0-60 Magazine and told them to give it their personal touch. That touch consists of a five-piece widebody kit, as well as upgraded suspension, brakes, Volk Racing forged wheels and a bespoke GReddy titanium exhaust system. Perfect for the eco-conscious junior VP with a right foot made from depleted uranium.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06X Track Car Concept
On the off chance that the Camaro SSX isn’t hardcore enough to meet your apex-clipping needs, Chevy has also trotted out a track-ready Corvette concept called the Corvette Z06X. Like its Camaro-based sibling, the Z06X removes unneeded weight and adds safety gear, as well as an body kit featuring a front splitter and adjustable rear spoiler, a freer-breathing engine intake sytem, a high-capacity engine cooling system, and a roll-cage mounted video camera to better capture your most memorable feats of driving heroism (or ham-fistedness) for posterity. Did we mention the project was overseen by Pratt and Miller, the company that builds and campaigns the factory-backed Corvette C6.R GT2 race cars? Well now we have.
Mazda2 Evil Track
Yet another track day weapon comes courtesey of Mazda, in the form of the Mazda2 Evil Track. This menacing mighty mite features a gutted interior with an SCCA- and NASA-legal roll cage, Sparco racing seat with harness, a data acquisition system, and a fire supression system. Outside you’ll find an adjustable coilover suspension kit from H&R, a Magnaflow exhaust system, 15×9” 949 wheels wearing sticky Hoosier tires, and a unique Mazda Design body kit. Who says you need big power to have big fun?
Toyota Swagger Wagon Supreme
And now for something completely different. In case you haven’t noticed, Toyota’s marketing campaign for the Sienna minivan is centered around some neo-hipster parents. In one spot, the dad – played by one Brian Huskey – labeled it the “Swagger Wagon.” The line caught on to such an extent that it inspired a rap video and now, the Swagger Wagon Supreme. This limo-fied (by 44 inches) Sienna’s interior has been kitted out with Brazilan cherry hardwood floors, Corian countertops, wine chiller, and an HP computer with a big honkin’ flat screen monitor. Outside, the Supreme rides on 20” wheels and airbag suspension. Coolest minivan of today? Well, we’d still bestow that honor upon the Mazda5 5-speed, but “A” for effort.
Ford Police Interceptor Stealth
With Ford’s venerable Crown Victoria finally sleeping the big sleep, the Blue Oval’s police interceptor duties now fall to a pair of new models based on the Taurus and Explorer. Not exactly the sort of news that will strike fear into the average scofflaw’s heart, or leave many cops chomping at the bit to drop the hammer in one. But Ford isn’t messing around, and they’ve got a blacked out Police Interceptor sedan to prove it. This concept car has been lowered an inch, rides on 22” wheels, and has smoked exterior light lenses and tinted windows. That the car’s designer, Melvin Betancourt, took his inspiration from the SR-71 Blackbird, should be no surprise. What is a surprise is all the emergency lights that start flashing with a flip of a switch, since they aren’t visible unless you’re looking really closely. Ditto the computers and other equipment hiding in the center console, glovebox and where the front passenger airbag used to be. Under the radar yet armed with radar, if you will.
Mummbles Marketing Hyundai Equus
If you haven’t heard of Mummbles Marketing, it’s probably because its normal conversation voice is barely louder than a whisper. Now that we’ve picked that low-hanging comedic fruit, we can tell you that the real reason is because this tuning house headquartered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania just recently opened its doors. Of course, looking at this Hyundai Equus, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’ve been plying the customization trade since McKinley was in the White House. The “Elegant Equus” may feature upsized rolling stock, smoked lenses and the Korean domestic market hood ornament on the outside, but it’s what’s inside that counts. To wit: a turbocharger, nitrous kit and high-flow exhaust system has the V8 belting out 450hp, while a second iPad (in addition to the one that contains the owner’s manual) is used to control the air suspension, windows, entertainment system and (drumroll please) the window curtains. Now that’s something to shout about…
HPP Chevrolet Camaro/Pontiac Trans Am
We’ve seen the occasional Pontiac Firebird/Trans Am homage based on the new Camaro. While some are quite cool, none have really gone the whole nine yards in attempting to replicate the Excitement Brand’s pony car. That changes with Heide Performance Products’ ’69 Trans Am inspired creation seen here. From what we can tell the only panel that hasn’t been replaced or modified is the roof; everthing else has been reshaped to accommodate features like the quad headlights, twin-nostril grille, fender scoops, and chiseled wheel arch detailing. Even the side marker lights from the original (including the rear ones, which are shaped like the original “Screaming Chicken” insignia) are present and accounted for. If this thing doesn’t take you to your muscle car happy place, maybe said happy place doesn’t exist.
Toyota Prius Plus Performance Package
In an attempt to inject some excitement back into its lineup, Toyota and in-house tuning arm TRD are introducing the Plus line of accessories. The first recepient of the Plus treatment is the Prius, in the form of the attractive and alliterative Prius Plus Performance Package. The five-piece body kit keeps the popular hybrid’s drag coefficient at 0.25, while the vehicle now rides on forged 17” alloy wheels. The package adds sport-tuned lowering springs and a rear anti-roll bar to help liven things up when the road ceases to be straight. Expect to start seeing small quantities of these spicy fuel-sippers trickle into dealers staring in April.
Hennessey Venom GT
You remember the Venom GT, right? Hennessey’s twin-turbo, 1,200hp, Lotus Exige-based supercar moonshot? Anyway, it’s making its first public appearance on American soil at the SEMA Show. John Hennessey calls it “the fulfillment of a dream”; we call it 19 kinds of badass. Disagree? Watch this video and you’ll see that even standing still, the Venom GT will get your pulse racing at 250+ mph.
Honda CR-Z Hybrid R Concept
Although Toyota is trying to convince the world that the Prius can be sporty, arch nemisis Honda has removed all doubt that its CR-Z has the potential to be the baddest hybrid in the land with the CR-Z Hybrid R Concept. While the body kit, wheels, lowered stance and scorching red paint suggest that this isn’t the sort of green car you’ll find parked in the Whole Foods lot, a peek under the hood confirms this suspicion. The 1.5L gas engine has been turbocharged and the Integrated Motor Assist system has been hopped up to bring total output to 200hp and 175 lb.-ft of twist. Wowie.
Ford Fiesta R2
Despite the popularity of American rally drivers Ken Block and Travis Pastrana and their sideways exploits plastered across YouTube, the folks in charge of NASCAR are anything but worried about being knocked off their perch as America’s most watched motorsport. Ford, meanwhile, has decided that if it can’t bring Americans to rallying, maybe it can bring rallying to Americans. To that end, Dearborn is now offering the Fiesta R2 kit already available in Europe over here by way of the Team O’Neill rally school in New Hampshire. Designed for the Fiesta 5-door (the European 3-door is pictured), the kit includes revised engine internals that boost output to 168hp (40% over stock), a sequential transmission, racing seats, beefier suspension, upgraded brakes and a roll cage. Fiesta R2 drivers will be able to compete in RallyAmerica’s Fiesta Sport Trophy Championship next year, and the winner will get to drive at the Wales Rally GB and a residency with Ford’s World Rally Championship team.
Toyota Tacoma X-Runner RTR Concept
It doesn’t seem like that long ago that there were plenty of factory-built muscle trucks from which to choose. Nowaday, though, there’s nary an SVT Lightning, Ram SRT10 or Syclone to be found in showrooms. And that’s kinda sad. But instead of plopping down on the couch with a box of Kleenex and a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, Toyota has decided to take action and keep the memory of the groundpounding pickup alive with the Tacoma X-Runner RTR Concept. The RTR (Ready to Race) ditches the Taco’s normal top engine (a 4.0L V6) and replaces it with the full-size Tundra’s 5.7L V8. As if that wasn’t enough, the V8 is wearing a TRD supercharger, which means there are 504hp and 550 lb.-ft a stomp of the right foot away. That mojo reaches the rear wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission and a narrowed Tundra axle with a TRD limited-slip differential, and is good for quarter-mile times in the 11s. Now that’s haulin’…
RetroBuilt Ford Mustang GT500CS
While it seems like everyone and his mom is coming out with retro body kits and accessories for the Camaro and, to a lesser extent, the Challenger, the Mustang hasn’t really gotten much love in that regard. Missouri-based RetroBuilt is out to change that…big time. Their latest kit reskins any 2005 or newer ‘Stang – coupe or convertible – as a 1969 Shelby GT500. The front and rear clips are replaced, the doors are reskinned, the coupe’s rear quarter windows are filled in and they’re painted up with all the stripes and colors of the originals. Not a GT500 fan? Retrobuilt also offers other kits, including ones based on the “standard” ’69 Mustangs like the GT, Mach 1 and Boss 302. Giddyup!
Dodge Challenger Drag Pak V10
With the Dodge Viper on indefinite hiatus, you’d be forgiven for assuming its 8.4L V10 is also taking a breather. Forgiven yes, correct…not so much. That 512 cubic inch monster (together with a 2-speed automatic tranny) has found a new home in a new version of the Challenger Drag Pak, Mother Mopar’s turn-key drag racer. Like the Challenger Drag Paks shipping with V8s or sans engines (We’d so drop in a turbocharged Slant Six.), the V10 features a roll cage, beefed up suspension, fuel cell and other bits to improves speed and safety. And it goes without saying it’s not street legal.
Cartel Customs Scion xB Limo
The Swagger Wagon Supreme isn’t the only stretched Toyota product in Sin City this week. Cartel Customs’ Scion xB limo is one of 10 vehicles stationed at the youth brand’s booth, but it’s arguably the biggest attention hog. Quality Coachworks handled the four foot stretch (which includes three doors on the passenger side and one on the driver side), and from there Cartel worked with Quality Coach to trim the interior with a J-shaped leather couch, bar, audio enclosure and TV wall/partition. Cartel also threw in a high-flow exhaust, air suspension, and a stretched-to-fit 5 Axis body kit. All in all, about as far removed from a black Town Car as you can get.
Mazda MX-5 Super20
Can you believe the Miata/MX-5 has been around for two decades? Mazda’s spritely little roadster has been alive for 20 years and three generations because it adheres to a simple, appealing formula. This is not to say, however, that there are some non-believers, chief among them who dismiss the MX-5 as a chick car. Well, for this special 20th anniversary concept, Mazda has endowed its little runabout with some serious cajones. A supercharged Cosworth engine lurks under the hood, while there are smaller, lighter wheels wrapped in stickier tires and beefier suspension at each corner. The interior has been stripped out, fitted with a rollbar, and capped with a hardtop to improve aerodynamics and structural rigidity.
Chevrolet Corvette Jake Edition Concept
Five years ago, a small skull mascot with eyes in the shape of the Corvette’s crossed flags logo showed up on the then-new Corvette C6.R GT1 race cars. Since then, Jake (as he has come to be known) has become the official-unofficial mascot of the venerable nameplate. You can find him under the hood of the ZR1, but now he has an entire car in tribute to him. Officially just a concept (though rumor has it the only thing preventing a production version is some of the parts seen here aren’t being made yet), the Corvette Jake Edition is based on a Grand Sport coupe with Z06 wheels, a rear lip spoiler currently available at your nearest dealer’s parts counter, and wall-to-wall Jakes, from the floormats, to the seats, to the wheel center caps, to both the inside and outside of the hood.
Make no mistake, the Ariel Atom is a living legend among performance cars. The British-built cycle-fendered psycho of an automobile is as spectacular at setting track records and redefining the term “bare-bones motoring” as it is warping tall, curmudgeonly men’s faces. Pity there’s not a homegrown alternative…except now there is. Vortex Motors – a new outfit that calls Seattle home – is using the SEMA Show as a coming-out party for the F1. The standard version, the F1 Turn Key, is motivated by a mid-mounted GM Ecotec LNF 2.0L turbocharged four producing 290hp and 340 lb.-ft of torque hooked to a 6-speed manual transmission. And it weighs 1,400 lb. Aye. Caramba. Step up to the Ultimate, though, and the same engine makes 330hp and 360 lb.-ft, and that brawn is handed off to a sequential 6-speed gearbox. The Ultimate also gets you carbon fiber bodywork and seats, upgraded brakes, steering, and wheels and tires. In case you haven’t guessed, this is one toy we’d definitely like to find under the Faith-Neutral Holiday Conifer (Suck it, ACLU.).
Team Kai Hei Tai/U.S. Marines Scion xB
Although all branches of our armed forces fight the same enemies and defend the same freedoms, our brave men and women in uniform seldom shy away from friendly intermural rivalries. As a result, the Army, Navy and Marines have each paired up with customizers to each build their own signature Scion xBs in something called Battle of the Builds. And while the Army and Navy rides are both nifty, we can’t help being drawn to the Marines’ little desert rat. Not only has it been turbocharged, and treated to that slick paint and bodywork by Team Kai Hei Tai, but it has also been converted to all-wheel-drive thanks to a transmission and transfer case out of a two-year-old Toyota RAV4 and a rear axle out of an 11-year-old RAV4. In other words, those 17×9” Moto Metal 909 wheels and Goodyear MTR meats aren’t just for show. Oorah!
Mopar Underground Fiat 500 Concept
We’ll admit it: We still have trouble wrapping our minds around the fact that Chrysler is now controlled by Fiat. Seems like just yesterday they were shacking up with Daimler. At any rate, the new-ish marriage has well and truly been consumated, as proven by a Fiat 500 tuned by Chrysler’s Mopar Underground. Eighteen-inch wheels and tires are crammed into the flared wheel arches, which join the custom front and rear bumpers and side sills on the list of exterior modifications. The interior has been jazzed up with a red driver’s seat and door insert in an otherwise black cockpit, and a custom strut tower brace and exhuast system reside underneath and make the driving experience even more bella.
Kia Forte Koup Type R Concept
When you think of “carmakers involved in racing,” Kia probably isn’t one of the names that comes to mind. But the Korean marque that doesn’t rhyme with Sunday recently wrapped up its first season of competition in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series, and the factory-backed team – Kinetic Motorsports – produced a hot street version of the Forte Koup race car to celebrate. The Forte Koup Type R Concept rides into town with a handsome widebody kit, 18” BBS wheels wearing (Surprise!) Continental rubber, custom upholstery, a 1,200 watt Infinity sound sysytem, and some suspension, chassis and drivetrain upgrades aimed at making this number drive as sharp as it looks. But wait, there’s more! The Kinetic folks say most of the go-fast bits they designed for this thing are production-ready; all Kia has to do is say the magic words. Do we want Kia to say the magic words? Let’s see…yes. Very yes.