Oct 30 2018
3150 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89109

It’s the biggest show in Vegas! It’s the largest automotive parts show in the world. Most importantly, it’s the home of the hottest, slickest, weirdest, project rides and custom builds in the country, and you probably didn’t go. “It” is the annual SEMA show that descends on Sin City each November filling convention hall after convention hall with automotive parts, parts for parts, parts that make parts, seminars about parts, apparel for humans selling parts, and food courts. Oh…SEMA also finds space for 1,500 totally amazing machines competing for the Battle of the Builders title.

SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) is an industry show that is closed to the public. Never the less, SEMA attracts over 160,000 exhibitors, buyers and press each year to cram into the miles of display corridors seeing, buying, and selling parts. While the hood hinge display may have only drawn a specific crowd, you can bet that all 160,000+ attendees made their way to the North Hall to ogle the custom builds.

You couldn’t go and unless you suck up to one of the 6,500 SEMA member companies, you won’t get credentials for the 2019 show either. But, just to give you a taste of what you are missing, we’ll give you a rundown on some of the hottest rides.

1969 Chevy Camaro winner Kyle Tucker (SEMA Show)
Kelderman All-Terrain Perambulators (Car Magazine)

Two Million Square Feet of Car Stuff

First of all, there are all kinds of vehicles that show up at SEMA. Some, like the trucks that ride on four triangular treads can’t really be called a “truck” in the traditional sense. Then there are the Brodozers like the ’70 Dodge truck with a 3 FOOT lift (and you thought that 6” lift kit was a bitch to install), the giant balloon tires, mega off-road tires with treads that could plow a field, and all kinds of suspension rigs that replace the term “clearance” with altitude.

Muscle cars are in abundance (the winner of the BOTB was a 1969 Camaro), hot rods, imports, car art, even concept cars from major manufacturers will debut here. In short, there’s something for every automotive enthusiast.

One thing to keep in mind. While a vehicle may carry a recognizable brand name, much, if not most of the vehicle is not OEM but rather an aftermarket product or a customized fabrication. Here’s a sample of what can be expected.

Premier Street Rods 1956 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup <br>

Truck of the Year – 1956 Chevy That’s Not a Chevy and was Built in 2018

Custom builds can be a bit tricky and their names can often be a tad misleading. Ross Lagsdon of Premiere Street Rods happily accepted the trophy naming his 1956 Chevy 3100 truck Chevy SEMA Design Award for Truck of the Year. It truly is a remarkable restoration…except it isn’t. Lagsdon’s “Sinister 56” is actually a brand new truck built from the ground up. Using a chassis from GSI Machine & Fabrication, adding customized, fabricated accessories like bumpers, headlights, door handles, mirrors and all trim pieces, and tacking on Billet Specialties Concave Series Wheels wrapped in Nitto INVO rubber for eye candy, Logsdon put together a chopped down version of a Chevy 3100 that is very easy on the eyes.

But Premiere Street Rides makes trucks that you can actually take on the road. So, to power the Sinister 56, Lagsdon dropped in a Chevy Performance LSX 376 crate engine, two turbochargers, and a 475-E transmission. So now they have an award-winning custom build that’s ready for the street, but with a clearance of about 1 ¼” Ross had better avoid all speed bumps.

Ford Raptor (aFE Power)
Ford Raptor (aFE Power)
Ford Raptor (aFE Power)

Ford Raptor – Rolling Parts Catalog

SEMA is a parts show. Sometimes part manufacturers go overboard loading up their product test vehicles with their goodies accidently creating a “custom build.”  aFE, a performance parts manufacturer, found themselves with a Ford Raptor that was equipped with almost all the parts they make so they added a few from other parts companies and brought it to SEMA. The Raptor is a pretty impressive ride all by itself but we wonder if the boys at Ford have any idea how awesome it can become with the addition of a few (ok a lot) aftermarket parts.

aFe’s truck has aFe Momentum XP Cold Air Intake, SCORCHER PRO Programmer, Sway-A-Way Front Coilovers and Rear Bypass Shock Absorbers. From other vendors, aFe tacked on Baja Designs lighting (truly awesome), aluminum fender liners, Method Beadlock wheels wrapped in BFG 39" KM2 tires, Alcon Big Brake kit, and custom bumpers front and back. When they rolled it onto the show floor it became a 3-D, interactive, multi-media automotive parts catalog.

And there is more. Much more. If by some chance you can get your hands on a badge for this event, don’t let anything keep you from going!