SEMA is the greatest car show to which you aren’t invited. Basically a meet-and-greet for manufacturers, distributors, and vendors of aftermarket parts, it has evolved into one of the best custom-car shows in the country. How? If you want to draw attention to your product, what better way than to showcase it on the most awesome cars you can find?
But because throngs of civilians would get in the way of business, the SEMA show is closed to the average enthusiast. Fortunately, the media does get an invite, and our mission at SEMA is to bring you the best cars you’re not allowed to see. Below are the highlights from day one.
Jesse Rooke Three-Wheeler
Jeese Rooke normally builds custom motorcycles, but when air-filter maker K&N contacted him about building a special vehicle for SEMA, this was the result: an awesome three-wheeler in the tradition of the Morgan trike, but with a lot more power. This speedy bathtub uses the powertrain from a Suzuki GSX-R1000, which makes 191 hp and should be good for plenty of terrified screams.
Two years ago, we highlighted a monster SEMA truck that didn’t perform to expectations. This one does. We checked the highlight reels, and this thing has not only run mud-bogging races, but it’s been airborne and not cracked in half upon landing. (We’d expect nothing less from a truck with Grave Digger creator/driver Dennis Anderson’s name on it.) King Sling also looks incredible, the chrome-green paint being supplied by Spectra Chrome. Just goes to show that looks aren’t everything.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06X Track Car Concept
In case you haven’t read our “Best-Handling Car in America” story and sent your hate-filled e-mail, the story lives here. If you have, you already know the Z06 is an amazing track car. The Z06X concept is basically a spec-racer Z06, adding a full roll cage and an even more track-ready suspension to what is already a tremendously capable machine.
HydroDynamic Rock Buggy
SEMA is full of WTF disasters and vehicles that we wish didn’t exist. This is one of the weirder things we saw on day one, but also one of the most awesome. A purpose-built off-road monster created by a design engineer named Jeff Friesen, this thing is constructed entirely of steel tubing and your worst nightmares. An air suspension allows for two feet of ride-height adjustment and the wheels are turned via hydraulic motors, the pumps for which are powered by the engine out back.
Ford Stealth Police Interceptor
Ford’s Taurus-based Interceptor is one of a slew of new cop cars arriving in the next year or so, but both Chevy’s Caprice and Dodge’s Charger cruisers would seem to be more menacing. This car changes that. All black with deeply tinted windows, this cruiser nails the intimidation factor.
Scion xB Limousine
Scion can always be counted on for a spirited SEMA display, but from the beginning, spirited and quality have always been separated at this show. Scion’s stand this year includes a large number of vehicles, but this immaculately stretched xB is our favorite. It’s got four extra feet between the wheels, couch-style seating in the back, and a 2600-watt sound system. It’s pure Vegas.
Ford F-350 Pit Boss
In the weeks leading up to SEMA, Ford announced dozens of vehicles that would be shown on its stand in Las Vegas. One of our favorites is this Pit Boss Super Duty, and only partially because of the name. The slammed F-350 is meant to be the ultimate tow vehicle for your race car (with a tire cage and tool boxes in the bed), but regardless of the purpose, we dig the stance, the color, and the wheels.