The Top 20 Vehicle Debuts of SEMA 2013
If it’s early November, it must be time for the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The automotive aftermarket’s annual analogue to Woodstock or Comic Con always serves up an interesting crop of new custom cars and trucks. Some are built to showcase new parts and/or models, some show serve as business cards of sorts for the shops that built them, and some offer hints at potential future product development directions for the OEMs. What follows, in no particular order, are 20 vehicles that fall into one or more of the above categories while, at the same time, grabbed our attention.
Chevrolet Silverado Cheyenne Concept
Muscle trucks are nothing new, nor are they terribly uncommon, but it’s been a little while since a manufacturer has actually offered one to the public. Ford recently changed that with the F-150 Tremor package (a regular cab, short bed 2WD Effy with the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 and some snazzy stripes), and arch nemesis Chevrolet might not be far behind. This Silverado Cheyenne Concept (Cheyenne was, for many years, the name of a trim level on Chevy’s full-size pickups and Suburbans.) rocks a lower ride height, a tame-ish body kit, Camaro Z/28 wheels and carbon-ceramic brakes and, critically, the top dog 420 horsepower 6.2L V8 that’s usually reserved for uplevel extended cab and crew cab Silverados. A production version probably wouldn’t be this radical, but that doesn’t make us want one less.
Volkswagen Jetta Racer’s Dream Concept
Volkswagen is currently in the midst of rolling out its new EA888 turbocharged inline-four engine in 1.8L and 2.0L forms; it replaces the current 2.0L turbo and 2.5L inline-five found in the Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Golf, Beetle and Passat. To help mark this changeover, VW commissioned the construction of a couple of custom Jettas. Our favorite of the two is called the Racer’s Dream Concept. This white-hot widebody is one of the cleanest European tuner cars we’ve seen in a while, with track-focused parts inside and out. And the track is the best place to uncork the 2.0L EA888 under the hood, which now makes a claimed 425 horsepower thanks to an APR turbo kit.
Toyota CamRally Camry Concept
The Toyota Camry is widely regarded as the most unexciting car you can buy, but that didn’t stop NASCAR driver Parker Kligerman and Kyle Busch Motorsports (the team for which he drives in the NASCAR Nationwide Series) from using the khaki pants of automobiles as the foundation for something wild. That something wild is the CamRally Camry, a WRC-inspired super sedan with flared fenders, spoilers, driving lights and classic Toyota racing colors (white with yellow, orange and red striping). The gutted interior features a full roll cage, while the 3.5L V6 engine features a custom turbocharger setup. Somewhere, is nodding in approval.
Bisimoto Hyundai Genesis Coupe
For a brief, shining moment, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe was the hottest rear-drive Asian sport coupe under the sun. Then the cheaper, smaller Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ twins came along and started gobbling up the tuning world’s attention and affection. Thankfully, Bisimoto hasn’t forgotten about the quintessential Korean pony car; instead, it blessed this particular Genesis Coupe with a lower ride height, mammoth Incurve wheels, a roll cage and, oh yeah, a twin turbo kit that takes the 3.8L V6 up to a nice, round 1,000 horsepower. Something tells us that parachute on the trunklid isn’t just for decoration…
1956 Ford F-100 “Snakebit”
When it comes to popular classic pickup trucks, there’s the 1953-’56 Ford F-100, and there’s everything else. So when rock legend Gene Simmons and his wife Shannon Tweed wanted a radically customized classic hauler, they decided to go with “the safe choice.” However, while the base truck might not go against the grain, the many major modifications made to it (including a reshaped bed and a Shelby GT500-esque face) do set it apart from the crowd. And the 5.4L supercharged V8 putting down 550 horsepower will help it escape any crowd, and do so quickly!
But here’s the best part: You might be able to make this trick truck your own. “Snakebit” will be auctioned off next year to benefit the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan, which is raising money to build a new medical facility in Tweed’s hometown of Saskatoon (Saskatchewan is one of only two Canadian provinces that is currently without a dedicated children’s hospital.).
Chevrolet Spark EV Tech Performance Concept
One of the downsides to electric cars is you can’t tune them…right? Well Chevrolet manages to blow that theory out of the water with Spark EV Tech Performance Concept. Thanks to some tweaks to the motor control computers, this two-tone runabout is now pumping out 450 lb.-ft of torque, which is 50 more than a stock Spark EV and 52 more than a Ferrari 458. Chevrolet Performance also added beefier halfshafts to cope with that extra twisting force.
Style J Scion FR-S Concept
The Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ twins were tuner favorites before the first one was even sold, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they’re still insanely popular with the aftermarket. And the one that leaves our jaws hanging at this year’s SEMA Show is called the Scion FR-S Style J. It features a redesigned front fascia and matte gray exterior finish, but also a couple of rather slick party pieces: Rather than conventional side view mirrors, the Style J has rear-facing cameras mounted in the Toyobaru’s front fender vent/badge area, and images from the cameras are displayed on LCD screens atop the dashboard. Nifty.
Pure Vision Design Chevrolet Camaro TT
We recently featured a video about custom muscle car builder Steve Strope and his shop, Pure Vision, and this, ladies and germs, is their latest masterpiece. It might look like just another pro touring Gen 2 Camaro at first, but it certainly isn’t under the skin. A twin-turbocharged 427 c.i. Chevy Small Block V8 assembled by Nelson Racing Engines provides 1,200 horsepower, while the heavily Aston Martin influenced interior features acres of rich brown leather and suede and a custom instrument cluster that was machined from a single piece of aluminum and has counter-rotating dials.
Bisimoto Honda Odyssey Power-Van
Aside from the whole soccermom stigma, one of the biggest marks against minivans (at least as far as gearheads are concerned) is their absence of rip-your-face-off-and-wear-it-as-a-condom performance. Bisimoto has managed to rectify that with this custom Honda Odyssey. Sure, the slammed stance and bitchin’ Fifteen52 wheels are tasty, but not nearly as tasty as the twin Turbonetics turbochargers affixed to the totally-rebuilt 3.5L V6 under the hood. Horsepower? Yeah, it’s got some of those; 1,029 of them, to be exact. Suddenly, being a carpool parent doesn’t sound so dreary…
Ringbrothers De Tomaso Pantera ADRNLN
We’ve always had a thing for the De Tomaso Pantera, and that affection may or not have something to do with the fact that our dad had one many moons ago. In any event, we were quite stoked to hear that the Ringbrothers would be serving up their reinterpretation of this vintage Italian-American supercar. Dubbed ADRNLN, this mustard monster is covered in modern styling cues and clever details in typical Ringbrothers fashion. And instead of the original Ford 351 c.i. Cleveland V8 providing the power, there’s a GM 6.2L LS3 that’s been tuned by Wegner Motorsports to produce 600 horsepower.
Forge Motorsports Volkswagen Golf Mark I
The original Volkswagen Golf (or as it was known here in the U.S., the Rabbit) was a pivotal car for Volkswagen. And the sports version of the original Golf/Rabbit, the GTI, heralded the birth of the modern hot hatch. Forge Motorsports’ O.G. Golf is considerably more muscular than any stock GTI in history, with a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four pumping out 400 horsepower. With that kind of pep, it needs those huge wheels and tires residing in those huge fender flares. Hopefully Forge Motorsports follows through on its threat to run this vicious VeeDub in a time attack event and Road Atlanta and the Pikes Peak Hill Climb next year.
Toyota FJ Cruiser Ultimate Edition
The Toyota FJ Cruiser – the Japanese firm’s retro-cool SUV – is being retired at the end of the 2014 model year, but the Big T isn’t letting this dirthead favorite go gently into that good night. Instead, it used the SEMA Show to debut the FJ Cruiser Ultimate Edition, a special model jam-packed with TRD upgrade parts. The race-spec dampers were co-developed by TRD and Bilstein, while a newly designed front skid plate will help spare the important bits from death-by-rocks. Happy trails, FJ Cruiser. Happy trails.
Classic Recreations Shelby G.T.500CR
Classic Recreations has built countless licensedShelby Mustang replicas over the years, but SEMA 2013 marked the debut of the first one powered by the current Mustang GT’s 5.0L “Coyote” V8. Dubbed the Shelby G.T.500CR, this potent pony makes 490 horsepower in standard form. However, if that figure doesn’t float your boat, you can order your G.T.500CR with a supercharger and intercooler that bump the power peak up to 780 horsepower. Yeah, that should do the trick.
Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker
Back when Dodge was building the first generation Challenger, it equipped the hottest versions of the model (including the T/A, 440 Six-Pak and 426 Hemi) with a Shaker hood scoop, a piece that sat atop the air cleaner and poked through a hole in the hood that would shake (hence the name) when the driver goosed the throttle.
Fast forward to the 2014 model year and Dodge is bringing back the Shaker as an option on the current Challenger R/T. This $2,500 extra doesn’t help the 5.7L Hemi V8 make any more power, but that price does include the Super Track Pak, which consists of a quicker steering rack, sturdier brake linings and shocks, and high performance Goodyear tires.
Hill’s Rod & Custom 1951 Studebaker Fastback Woody
For the last 15 or so years of its car-building life, Studebaker offered automobiles with rather dramatic styling. What we didn’t see from the South Bend, Indiana firm was a fastback design, nor a wood-bodied model (a.k.a. a woody). A shop by the name of Hill’s Rod & Custom has rectified both of those oversights – in the same car, no less – by putting together the very custom 1951 Studebaker you see here. The clearly talented crew also made many other body modifications (including changing the headlights and taillights) and installed a 390 c.i. V8 from another orphan brand, Edsel.
Mazda 3 Club Sport Concept
The Mazda 3 is already one of the most fun-to-drive non-sportscars you can buy. But the Mazda 3 Club Sport Concept takes this clever compact’s sportiness factor a step or two further. The 2.5L SKYACTIV inline-four is matched with a Wavetrac heical limited-slip differential and a 6-speed manual transmission borrowed from the CX-5 crossover, while a Cusco coilover kit, Brembo brakes, Rays wheels and Bridgestone Potenza tires make the handling even crisper. Oh, and that aero kit will be available for purchase in the not-too-distant-future.
AEV Ram Concept
American Expedition Vehicles already builds some of the coolest custom off roaders under the sun, and soon it could be making the kind of badass truck Ram won’t. See, the Ram Power Wagon is chock full of serious rock-crawling hardware, but it’s not available with the mighty 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel inline-six. AEV’s Ram Concept (Super creative name, no?) is effectively an aftermarket Power Wagon that happens to be based on the sans-spark-plugs version of the Ram 2500. This baby won’t just grow hair on your chest; it’ll grow hair in places you didn’t even know you had.
Universal Technical Institute Ford Focus ST
One of the most recognizable racecars in history is, without a doubt, the Ford GT40, particularly the John Wyer-campaigned, Gulf Oil-sponsored examples of 1968 and ’69. The folks at Universal Technical Institute channeled the spirit of this iconic machine when creating their take on the Ford Focus ST. Not only does it have the legendary pale-blue-and-orange livery, but it’s also got a trio of orange driving lights in the grill, aggressively flared wheel arches, and a Vortech supercharger instead of the stock ST’s turbocharger. That last tweak must be aimed at people who absolutely, positively can’t wait for their boost to arrive.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Gran Turismo Concept
In case you missed it, the new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is the cover car for Gran Turismo 6, which is scheduled to hit stores just under one month from now. To celebrate this (and the fact that all seven generations of Corvette will be represented in the game), GM Design whipped up this custom C7 coupe. The semigloss blue paint and yellow headlight lenses would be striking by themselves, but the custom grille insert and hood, front lip and side skirt extensions, and a rear spoiler hanging off the tail. No word if these aero parts will be available for the C7 in GT6’s tuning shop, but we won’t complain if they are.
Vans Warped Tour Kia Soul
Finally, it wouldn’t be SEMA without some truly wacky, over-the-top creations. And this colorful Kia Soul certainly qualifies for those labels. The playful paintjob and immense 20” wheels are definite eye-catchers, but not as much as the 50” flatscreen TV poking out of the roof, or the 8” Infinity speakers that reside where the side windows used to. In other words, you can’t really use this kooky Kia on the road. But there is a barbecue grill that slides out of the rear hatch, so at least you don’t have to go hungry while waiting for a tow…
Please check out our full SEMA 2013 Image Gallery.