Monday, November 13, 2017

Highlights From the 2017 SEMA Show

Alexander Carabitses

(Image credited to Hennessey)

Some may find it strange to hear that Las Vegas does not have a large international auto show, but rather, a pitiful regional show that's only a little bit better than what I grew up with in Providence, Rhode Island.  However, Las Vegas is also the home of the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association Show or SEMA Show.  This is essentially a trade show and playground for aftermarket companies to showcase their latest and greatest offerings.  However, many automakers have taken it upon themselves to bring as many modded vehicles as they possibly can so that their brands' can receive some media coverage.  Because the list of debuts from each manufacturer is long and pretty much irrelevant, I am only going to cover the best and most significant vehicle (or product) from each OEM that chose to participate.

Honda:  Honda didn't have any new products to show this year at SEMA.  However, the brand did announce that the Civic Type-R's powerplant would be offered as a crate engine.  That means that tuners and individuals will be able to purchase the 2.0-liter 306 horsepower engine for $6,519.87 (excluding destination charges), which is actually not a bad deal.
(Image credited to Honda)

Acura:  Acura showcased a new one-off iteration of the NSX called the Acura NSX Dream Project.  The car was created by the tuner, ScienceofSpeed, and features a series of aftermarket components that are meant to make this look akin to the NSX GT3 race car.
(Image credited to Acura)

Lexus: While this may look like an ordinary Lexus LC500, it's actually special edition called the Inspiration Series.  The unique thing about the car is its "structural blue" paint, which is not actually painted at all, but rather an optical illusion. This is because the car's actual bodywork reflects blue light, similar to how the ocean reflects the color of the sky.  The brand plans on producing 100 examples.
(Image credited to Lexus)

FCA:  Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles surprisingly had no specialty vehicles at SEMA this year.  What it did have was 200 accessories for the all-new Jeep Wrangler.  Like Honda, it is now offering the Hellcat engine as a $19,530 crate engine.  There is also a $2,195 engine kit that includes many necessary components that the engine requires in order to perform at its best.
(Image credited to Dodge)

Toyota:  Of the various specialty Camrys and CH-Rs in SEMA, this one stands out the most. Built by Dan Gardner, the idea behind this CH-R is to set the record for the fastest front-wheel-drive vehicle to lap the Nuremberg Ring.  Of course, that's what Toyota says; whether or not they actually do it is another matter entirely.
(Image credited to Toyota)

Hyundai: Hyundai actually showed up with a lot of new vehicles a SEMA, and out of all of them, the HyperEconiq Ioniq (talk about a catchy name) is the standout act.  The car is said to return over 80 mpg, thanks to some slight engine tweaks and aerodynamic enhancing add-ons, with the skirted rear wheels being the most obvious.
(Image credited to Hyundai)

Kia:  Hyundai's sister brand, Kia, showed up with many special versions of the Stinger. The Stinger GT Federation that you see below is the launch vehicle for Kia's aftermarket parts and accessories program.  It will be interesting to see how many people actually decide to modify their Stingers so that they look like this.
(Image credited to Kia)

Ford:  To put it simply, Ford brought a lot of crap that was instantly forgettable. However, if I had to pick one standout vehicle, it would have to be the Project SD126.  Built by BDS Suspension, this F-250 Super Duty features 42-inch tires and a suspension that pretty much takes inspiration from a monster truck.  The orange paint is pretty cool too.
(Image credited to Ford)

Mini: Mini's biggest piece of news at SEMA was the 2018 Cooper S Ice Blue Special Edition.  The only thing that sets this Mini Cooper S apart from every other one on the planet is the paint job.  Some have said that it looks like a Gulf livery because the car has orange accents.
(Image credited to Mini)

BMW:  While BMW did showcase a lot of accessories at SEMA this year, it also brought the 2018 M3 30 Years American Edition.  This is a one-off that's based on the M3 Competition Package and designed through the brand's BMW Individual program.  In addition to the unique look of the exterior (wheels, paint, and trim) the interior upholstery features colors and patterns that were inspired by the American flag.  Judging by this and the name, you can probably guess what BMW is trying to celebrate with this vehicle.  Oh, and it was put on sale the moment that the show closed its doors.
(Image credited to BMW)

Chevrolet: While many may be thinking that the Hot Wheels Camaro is my pick for best in the show for Chevrolet, it only gets this honorable mention.  That is because the Silverado Performance Concept was on the stand.  Why rave about this pickup truck?  Well, it features the same supercharger that's in the Camaro ZL1 and Corvette Z06, which brings the truck's output to 460 horsepower, which is up by about 100 horses.  Plus, it looks just like a classic modded pickup truck should with its low stance and aggressive demeanor.
(Image credited to Chevrolet)

Audi: Like BMW, Audi brought a lot of aftermarket parts and accessories, but it had one standout vehicle.  The TT Clubsport Turbo Concept (which initially debuted this past summer) is meant to pay homage to the Audi 90 race car that ran in the IMSA GTO class back in 1989.  Audi has claimed a few performance figures (600 horsepower and a top of 193 mph), but at the end of the day, this is nothing more than a good looking show car.
(Image credited to Audi)

Hennessey: The biggest news at SEMA, by far, was the debut of the Hennessey Venom F5.  Unlike the brand's last hypercar, this one is built on a brand new chassis that was designed by the tuner, itself.  Power comes from a twin-turbo V8 that cranks out 1,600 horsepower, with 0-186 mph taking place in only 10 seconds, while 0-249 mph happens in less than thirty seconds. However, the most impressive point about this car is the fact that it has a top speed of over 300 mph.  The car comes mated to a 7-speed DSG transmission and as you'd expect, power is sent to the rear wheels.  The car's impressive power output and 2,950 lb curb weight makes this faster than the Bugatti Chiron and virtually every Formula 1 car.  It is simply the fastest car in the world.  But before you get overly anxious and write out the $1.6 million check, be warned:  The car shown at SEMA lacked an interior and was only a plastic model; for that reason, my message to Hennessey is less talking and more developing.  The car has a lot of potential and we've seen them to great things before, but in the automotive industry, it will always come down to what's being done now, rather than what was done in the past.
(Image credited to Hennessey)

So as far as I'm concerned, this is the standout news at the 2017 SEMA Show.  As always, the show was filled with the weird, the wacky, and the ridiculous.  And of course, how can we forget the downright pointless that don't do a thing to tug at the hearts of enthusiasts and just scream for media attention?  Quite easily in fact.  Hopefully, we aren't forced to forget about Hennesey's potentially marvelous creation.

Thank you for reading and have a good week.

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