Words by Matt Willis
For the past several years, Timscribbles has featured photos and commentary of the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas – the mecca for any/all types of motor vehicle enthusiasts. Personally speaking, I haven’t been to SEMA in a few years, mainly because it’s a challenge to get the time off or other conflicts. This year, though, Tim and I decided to make the SEMA Show the last stop on a nearly 2,000-mile road trip across the southwestern US. It had been a while since I had embarked on a good road trip, and even longer since I attended the SEMA Show. I was looking forward to both.
This post will highlight just few of our stops on the way to SEMA – you can see more photos from the whole trip here.
One of our first major stops on the trip was the White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico. The place is essentially a 150,000-acre bleach-white version of Glamis, minus all the off-road activity. While we were looking forward to camping in the park, we found out upon arrival that the only option to do so involved a long hike across the dunes to the campsite. Not set up to backpack all our gear in, we ended up camping outside the park at a KOA and revisited the dunes in the morning.
After exploring White Sands, we were due north to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We were pretty exhausted the night we arrived, but the following day we had time to explore the city – including several of the Breaking Bad filming locations. We took a tram ride up to Sandia Crest before getting back on the road to our next destination.
In route west to Flagstaff, Arizona, we made a brief stop at the Petrified Forest National Park along Highway 40. Racing against the sunset (and the park closure), we didn’t have a chance to tour it in great detail — but we did get to capture some very unique landscapes, backed by a pretty nice sunset too.
We spent a night in Flagstaff and then we were Vegas-bound the following morning to check in for SEMA. By the time we arrived, the show was already on going on it’s third day, so most of the unveilings and hidden gems had already been uncovered.
Having not been to SEMA in a few years, I tried to go in with a blank slate and with minimal expectations.
One thing I noticed more of than anything else were vehicles in the ‘resto-mod’ category – that is, restored older vehicles with some slight modifications to the original spec. I’ve always liked this niche because it maintains some degree of conformity to the vehicle’s original look and feel, but still allows the owner to add a subtle touch. Singer’s gallery of classic 911s over the years are some excellent examples of beautiful modernization while staying within the Porsche realm.
One style that is becoming more common is matte graphite trim (shown above), particularly on classic vehicles. For some cars, it really sets them off – like this gorgeous ’57 Chevy. Kind of a nice in-between of flashy chrome and pure black.
At the Nitto booth we found the GMG Datsun 280Z, done in collaboration with Big Mike.
While this Z is done nicely for sure, the build overall was pretty tame compared to my expectations of the builders. At the same time, the attention to detail and conformity to the OEM style speaks volumes too.
A peek at the Z’s SR-20 engine.
More use of the graphite-colored accent – looks even better against red!
I didn’t particularly like the exterior of this extended ’66 Bronco from Maxlider Bros. It was a little too pristine for…well…a Bronco. But, the interior had a nice look that kept most of the original components in use.
Nice ’70 Mustang with modern elements, love the color too.
Classic Stingrays have never really been my cup of tea, but this one makes the exception list. I love the unique, modern design of the hood/fender vents.
My only wish would be some less tuner-era wheels.
I loved this simple gray/red themed Porsche 356.
The ’67 Mustang GT-500 needs no introduction. This one from Roush performance keeps it’s original look/feel while incorporating modern engineering.
Tim and I both love old Land Cruisers. They’re the bigger, more powerful, more comfortable version of the Wrangler – a true long-range, multi-terrain exploratory vehicle.
This one in particular had so much attention to detail, and so much homage to it’s original late 70s look. This may have been my favorite vehicle at the show.
Honda’s presence at SEMA was under the shadow of it’s own Civic Type R. Much like the FRS/BRZ hype a few years ago, the Type R was the import flagship this year alongside the NSX.
A NASA-spec Type R for Honda Racing.
Eibach Springs had their own Type R dressed with a nice livery…
The Evasive-built Type R at the Maxxis Tire booth.
FIA-spec NSX that was also found at the Honda/Acura booth. It’s great to see Honda getting into the Le Mans realm, and I’m sure the NSX will be competitive.
That wraps up the first batch from SEMA, more to come over the next few days!