2013 SEMA Show [Part Two] | The Cutting Edge

Words by Matt Willis

In a constantly evolving industry, where the wants and needs of the consumer change over time, one of the most critical aspects of both manufacturers, aftermarket parts’ vendors and their supporting distributors is not only to bring new ideas to the table, but to do so by hearing the voice of the consumer. It seems like every year a new car comes around and either it looks hideous or it’s performance/qualities just seem so out of line, you can’t help but wonder who is going to buy this? or what were they thinking? (see Acura ZDX, Nissan Murano Convertible, VW Eos, the list goes on for a while…). Sure it is easy to go to the drawing board and design something, but if the consumer has no say or influence, it’s more than likely doomed to fail in this industry. Hybrids and more fuel efficient cars are on the rise, so most auto makers are taking advantage by coming out with more hybrids (and going beyond to full electrics, etc.). They sell, because the consumer is interested in them.

Well, our little niche (and by our, I mean the performance/aftermarket industry) is more focused on things like power, handling, and style more than anything else. A prime example in our industry of a huge success as of recent is the Scion FR-S. They are selling like crazy, up nearly 35% in the last year in total sales (BRZ included), because they appeal to the performance demographic. Things like rear wheel drive, the Boxer engine, manual transmission, coupe chassis and general affordability all make for a perfect equation. So it’s no question they are selling. Now, the aftermarket industry is following with all kinds of modifcations and parts for the new chassis, and before long the FR-S parts will be as common as components for an old Honda Civic.

What I don’t understand is why more manufacturers don’t see this. Maybe it’s the economy, or maybe we are just a small piece of the puzzle. I’m just a guy looking at it from the outside, I’m sure there are a lot of metrics and cost-comparison that would justify a weak presence in our area of the market, but I don’t know, it just seems like with the sales record of cars like the FR-S, like the S2000, like the 240SX back in the 90s…more companies would take note of it…

Anyways, those are just my thoughts…onto the photos from the show floor…


Honda had a fair presence at SEMA, as they unveiled a new Civic model and brought out some other new developments.


The RLX stays true to the dying breed that is Acura. What I simply don’t understand is, if the RL sales were so terrible to begin with, why would they go back to the drawing board and come up with almost exactly the same thing? The Acura division needs to come up with something different to keep up with it’s competitors. Maybe that means looking into the performance compact again (or is that supposed to be the ILX now…), or putting some stronger engines into their flagship cars. But reinventing the Honda Accord with fancy trinkets over and over again isn’t proving to well for the brand.


Of course, this was the SEMA Show – so Honda brought out a slightly modified RLX. It looks alright, to be honest. But even modified, there is nothing too magnetic about the car.


The ILX, as mentioned above, could be considered a different, more intricate approach on a four-door Civic. It’s roughly the same size, but has all the bells and whistles that come with an Acura. At around $30,000, though (2.4L 6-speed) most consumers are going to want to save $9,000 and likely sway towards the $21,000 Civic Si sedan. Especially when there is nothing too appealing with the ILX, either.


Again, from all angles, it does not look bad. But for the money, I certainly would look at other options. It’s this sad image that Acura has retained over the last five or six years, and I’m afraid it won’t be too easy to bring back their vibrant image of the 1990s and early 2000s.


On the Honda side of things, however, some better decisions are being made. In spite of the last few dull, awkward generations of the Civic, Honda finally seems to be reviving what the Civic was originally known for. A mildly fun-to-drive, but equally economical compact car with a modern, sharp design and good reputation. The same can be said for the Civic Si model as of recently, taking the 2.4L VTEC motor and pairing it with a much more attractive body style. Unveiled at SEMA for the first time was the 10th-generation 2-door, shown above (standard with HPD package on left, Si model on right).


New HFP wheels and HFP body trim on this one…


The tail section rings from the 2013 Accord coupe a bit, but looks more fitting here on the Civic.


The Si looks a bit cleaner, minus the strangely designed wheels…

A race trim version of the new coupe…


The Mugen/HPD CR-Z made an appearance, this time looking promising with a supercharger option available directly from HPD. Pretty cool, considering it is still 50-state legal and can be installed at a dealer. With CR-Z sales plummeting in the last year or so, Honda needs to do something to either salvage the model or start phasing it out. Who knows what this will do…


Also at the Honda booth was a new high-power Bisimoto build. This one was a presentable “VIP” Odyssey, but rated at just over 1,000 horsepower…haha…


This HPD “art” Civic was kind of cool to look at. The illustrations embody the visions and ideas behind HPD.


What I love about the new Si (sedan) is that it brings the FA5 Type R look back to the states. Though its still not the same, it does look a whole lot better. This new Si was at the Hankook tire booth, and illustrates my point quite well….


Looks so much better than before…


In the same booth was this KTM X-Bow, a sort of semi-open-wheel mid-engine sports car (similar to the Ariel Atom or BAC Mono).


Over at Hyundai, similar to last year, the Korean automaker had several modified versions of their flagship cars on display. The first was named for it’s color, the “Hylighter” Veloster, featuring (of course) a striking and unique flourescent yellow finish. The car was brought out by EGR, who custom-built the body kit and did many of the other upgrades on the car.




Another knockout Bisimoto build, this time a twin-turbo Hyundai Genesis…


I really adored this Veloster, despite not liking Velosters at all. Something about the bright color in contrast with the gunmetal/machined wheel finish really makes the car come alive to me.


My favorite, however, was this Genesis. The body kit, wheels, brakes, color…it all works so seamlessly together. Really a sharp looking (and performing) car.


As Tim had pointed out, the nose has this sort of GTR look to it, primarily around the grill area, but it still works nonetheless.


Love the short deck spoiler and underbody diffuser…


This widebody Genesis also looked great…


Over the past few years, we’ve seen alternative approaches to customizing the finish of our cars; from different permanent finishes, to more temporary solutions such as wraps (above). The benefit of wraps being that the possibilities are not solely limited to a paint mixture, and they can always be removed later on.


I thought this was very cool – a style of wrap I had never seen before. This isn’t textured, the material is flat. It just has a pattern of different sheens that appear to make it sort of “3-D”.


Here is a planar view of the hood. Pretty neat stuff…


Winning hottest sport-compact award at SEMA this year was none other than the rapidly successful Scion FR-S. The impact and popularity at last year’s show was massive, and the trend continued this year with new builds and products around the platform. Ken Gushi’s GReddy/Hankook FR-S was on display at the Takata booth (above)…


Dai Yoshihara’s custom FR-S build. The aero details on the body of this car are amazing, along with Dai’s custom wheels and reconfigured interior…



One of the more talked about cars at the show this year was this LT Motorwerks Subaru BR-Z, more notably because it is dressed with a Rocket Bunny V2 kit and custom (striking) machined BBS wheels. This car just stood out from across the show floor and tons of people were stopping to look and take pictures.


I love the diffuser and spoiler piece on this version of the RB kit, in addition to the custom tail lights. The whole car flows really well and looks amazing.



There were a few more FR-S builds outside…


A couple others were also running the RB V2 kit and looking nice. I loved the M Technica wheels on this one…


Robert Kochis’ Stay Crushing FR-S, also sporting the Rocket Bunny V2 kit and a few other changes since the last time we saw it…



Loved the look of this Ark Performance FR-S build. Nice to see something different than all the Rocket Bunny every so often…


Ryan Tuerk’s 2JZ-powered FR-S that competes in Formula D…


Loved the wheels and tail lights on this Gram Lights RB FR-S…



Bulletproof FR-S with Varis kit…looks very aggressive….



Awesome tail lights. I find myself saying that a lot with the custom/aftermarket FR-S/BRZ lights…




Several Scion tC builds were showcased this year as well…some of them with very nice features…


Loved th


That’s it for today. We are out covering the Nitto Tire Enthusiast Day at the Auto Club Speedway this weekend, but should have more from the SEMA show and other coverage up soon.

Thanks for reading! – Matt


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