2013 SEMA Show [Part One] | Engineering

Words by Matt Willis

Those that work in the automotive industry know that SEMA is essentially what Comic Con is to the arts or pop culture. Not only is it over one million square feet of exhibitor space filled with the year’s most awesome products and builds, but it is the “roll call” for everyone involved in the industry.

For us, it means connecting with the manufacturers and vendors that make the automotive scene what it is today – and in the future. Having attended the SEMA show over the last few years, I have to admit – it is refreshing to see the continued growth, creativity, and living pulse within the industry. Without actually attending the show, my best guess would be that the aftermarket marketplace is declining with the general public being focused on the economy and environment. But that’s not true at all. The force and the following of modifying cars – whether for performance, style, or utility – still exists today and is strong as ever.


For those who have attended SEMA, you know a few things. First being that there is so much going on at once, and so much ground to cover that it is nearly impossible to see everything in a single day. Four full exhibit halls and the entire front lot of the convention center are packed full with two things: cars and people. And because all of the cars are so cream-of-the-crop, we really had to focus and take note of the most unique builds. Over the next few days, we will highlight cars that we found interesting, be it because of their style, presentation, purpose or just a detail that stood out, and sort of group them into the same category.

One of the things I really take note of are cars that are engineered with extreme precision or with some type of new or creative approach. Race vehicles always spark my interest in this area, because they tend to push the limits of the envelope of their design in order to go faster.


We start with the Hasport Performance vision of a 4th-generation Honda Prelude. This car has been around for a while, but it still one of the best track/race ready Hondas out there.


The cockpit, with the bare essentials – seat, steering column, shifter, pedals and roll cage. Oh, and of course…the hydraulic fluid reservoirs relocated inside the cabin as well.


Closeup of the Prelude’s K-swapped engine bay.




This FD RX-7 seemed to be catching everyone’s eye. The sheer size of the wing alone is enough to make someone look twice.


The extended/tubular custom body work here is most notable here.


And the cutout to accomodate a Vortech F/I system…




Believe it or not, one of my favorite cars at SEMA overall was this little guy. I was glad to see the Spoon Sports CR-Z made it to the show all the way from Japan.


I like Spoon’s relatively simplistic approach to the CR-Z (and past cars in general, too). They don’t go overboard trying to make the fastest and most relentless car on the track, but instead take a look at the car Honda already built and improve the weakest points. This makes it quicker, yes, but also more fun to drive while still setting some good lap times. I’d love to take this CR-Z around a track just to see how it feels…



Spoon utilized their iconic 4-piston brake calipers (built by the OE manufacturer) behind a lightweight Volk TE37SL wheel/A048 tire combo.


I love seeing stuff like this. Engine cutaways, floating suspension diagrams, and undercarriage views are among some of my favorite things. This is the underbody the new Chevrolet Camaro SS.


Neat little open-wheel car at the Factory Five booth. It is definitely cool to look at, and while some may think its rather bare, I love seeing all the welds, rivets, and custom joint work…


Not to mention the carb’d V8 powering the car.


Morgan Jade’s Civic hatch turned dragster was at the Garrett turbo booth. Morgan and Sportcar Motion have been working on getting this car ready for awhile and the finished product is astonishing.


The engine bay…


And the back end, which most competitors will probably see on the drag strip…haha…


This was a treat to see. The Audi R18 LMP car from the FIA European Le Mans Series. If you think F1 is high tech, these cars are right up there next to it.


The Creations n’ Chrome fox-body Mustang we last saw at the HRE Open House was now dressed in red. This car is brilliant, not just from an engineering/performance perspective but it has such an awesome look too.




Crazy bay here…notice the dual radiators and the air filter setup…



Honda brought out there high-performance lawn mower, which had been test driven by Top Gear just a few weeks before SEMA.



A KTM X-Bow at the Hankook booth.


Danny George’s LS-powered MX-5 Miata drift car. Take note of the crazy steering angle…


Another insane engine bay setup. This one a twin-turbo V8…


Two of the LMS prototype cars at the Continental Tire booth.


Although soon to be replaced with the C7 body, the Compuware ALMS team had a lot of success with the C6R over the last few years.


Another LMS/Daytona Prototype on display at the Ford booth.


Belt-free supercharger – driven right from the crank. What more could you ask for?




Twin turbo setup for the new Viper V10 engine…


Cool hydraulic bed on this hot-rod pickup.



LaFrance Speedster from Jay Leno’s collection…





Mazda 6 GT car…


The NAPA funny car dragster that made an appearance here at SEMA last year…


Perhaps one of the most popular cars at SEMA, and for a good reason, was this Pagani Huayara at the GoPro booth. I’ve never seen one in person, so it was very incredible to see and check out all the details.




From the carbon fiber body, to the engine, to the unique design of the cockpit…this car is nothing short of an engineering masterpiece.




Radical RXC, another car I had yet to see in person…


The RXC is street legal in parts of Europe.



The Cadillac CTS-V race car from the Pirelli Challenge series.


I absolutely love this car and would love to see it make it’s way into the ALMS series.


This interesting car had an incredibly long wheelbase, and some type of miniaturized Mustang front-end…


…not to mention four V8s on board.



Magnus/Whiteline H/C Mitsubishi Evo with some crazy aero.



I thought this was, although not very aesthetically pleasing, very interesting. Looks like vertical cooling fins made up into the grill of this custom S10 chassis…



Love the cutouts for the wheel/tire fitment…



Beautiful engine bay. Note the carbon fiber fender caps…


…and the side-mounted bike rack on this classic Camaro.


Bikes, much like cars, are open to customization and unique was of engineering – sometimes even moreso.


Love the attention to detail here.

That’s it for today. We will continue with our SEMA highlights throughout the remainder of the week.

Thanks for reading!


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