Monday, November 7, 2016

2016 SEMA Show Highlights

Alexander Carabitses

SEMA stands for Specialty Equipment Marketing Association.  Each year, around early November, SEMA holds their annual trade show in Las Vegas.  Yes, this is technically not an auto show and in fact, the general public is never admitted.  The only ones allowed are those who are invited, as well as the automotive media.  So technically, because of this blog, I could register to go, but I never would given how much I hate after market mods and accessories, which is basically all this show is about.  In years past, there has been very little OEM presence, and when automakers would show up, they'd normally show a crap load of special edition one-off models for publicity's sake.  Very rarely would you see production vehicles being shown. In recent history there have been two exceptions though: The first generation Ford F150 Raptor and the faclifted version of the previous generation Civic Coupe/Si Coupe.  Ford has also been kind enough to show off a couple of race cars before. However, this year's show did feature a number of intriguing debuts a few of which were actually US debuts of cars that debuted in Paris.  Here is what the automakers rolled out.

BMW showed off a lot of M-Sport accessories that have already been on the market for some time now, as well as some that are brand new; in the meantime, Mini rolled out the John Cooper Works Clubman for its North American debut. Toyota showed off 30 different vehicles, the most notable of which was a heavily modified Land Cruiser.  It shared the stage with modded version of the Sienna, Prius, 86, etc.  Lexus rolled out a few souped up models of their own, with the most notable being a bright yellow LC500 that, much like these other vehicles, will never see the light of day.
(Image credited to Toyota)
(Image credited to Lexus)
(Image reedited to BMW)

Honda showed many special editions of the Ridgeline and Civic (the best of which was the Body in White, which is designed for amateur race teams), while the Type R Prototype made its US debut.  Acura showed off a special MDX towing an NSX GT3 on the back of a trailer, along with a production spec TLX GT.   Hyundai and Kia showed off many one-off cars, but only the Tucson Midnight Edition will see the light of day in limited numbers.  Mazda was also kind enough to show two more Miatas that will also never hit production, but still offer great eye candy.
(Image credited to Honda)
(Image credited to Acura)
(Image credited to Mazda)

We now come to Ford, a brand that is known for showing off special edition Mustangs and F150s at this show.  To nobody's surprise, there were about a dozen or so special variants of each shown, and for the record, all of them are completely irrelevant, with one exception: the Mustang GT4 Racer.  This model will actually be competing in a few unnamed motorsports series next year.  There were also special editions of the Fiesta ST, Focus ST, and Focus RS, which also came as a surprise to nobody.
(Image credited to Ford)

FCA's lineup was a bit more exciting, as Mopar brought six vehicles, the best of which were a Dodge Durango with a shaker hood, a Jeep that featured body components from many generations of Wrangler (and its predecessors), and a Dodge Challenger that featured body panels that are meant to replicate the look of the original car.
(Image credited to Mopar)
(Image credited to Mopar)
(Image credited to Mopar)

Finally, there was Chevrolet, which showed off a concept trim level for the Malibu and Cruze, called Blue Line, a Silverado HD that was done in partnership with Carhartt, and some more special edition pickups.  However, the three biggest pieces of news were the 2017 COPO Camaro (an annual update to the car that is designed to tackle the NHRA Stock Eliminator Class), the Camaro AutoX Concept (a car that could be used by those who partake in autocross events), and the Colorado ZH2 Concept (a  vehicle which will potentially showcase the durability of hydrogen powered military vehicles).
(All images credited to Chevrolet)

One other thing that bugs me about the show is the point that I made earlier in that it isn't open to the public.  Here's the deal, if there's one thing that I know about the youth and car culture, it's that young people generally love the after market scene.  They love tuned Mustangs, Evos and STIs; they love super chargers, they love big wheels and brakes. For them SEMA would be heaven, but they don't have access to the one show that truly speaks to them. We must also not forget that the media loves to cover this show and make references to it.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard auto journalists say the phrase "This vehicle looks like it came straight out of SEMA" whenever an automaker trots out an irrelevant special edition or trim package at an auto show. It entices people people to want to visit the show, only to be let down when they realize that they cannot visit without proper credentials.   Anyone in their teens and twenties that knows about the SEMA Show probably dreams of going  so I think that it's time for the organizers of SEMA to consider opening the show to the public, for the sake of preserving and honoring modern car culture; I can almost guarantee that it would succeed.

That's all I have to say for now.  Thank you for reading and have a great week.

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