SEMA Show 2012: Part One

Words by Matt Willis

It’s still hard for me to believe that it’s almost the end of another year. We’ve been to more events and places in 2012 than ever, and with school/work on the side, well, the time seems to slip away just a little faster. But that’s nothing to complain about. As I’ve mentioned before, cars are our passion and we enjoy being part of the automotive community. We love seeing the latest builds at shows, covering motorsports events, going to track days…its all in our blood and that’s why we continue to go out and shoot.

In fact, the entire automotive industry is fueled by – before oil and petroleum – the people that have the same passion for cars as we do. Without the engineers, the businesses, the mechanics, the media, and the most importantly the drivers and enthusiasts…you really have no automotive market. To put a tiny fraction of those people into perspective, the Specialty Equipment Market Association puts on this huge show every year as a sort of “Mecca”, or calling, for those of us in the performance and aftermarket niche. It’s no niche, though. SEMA is responsible for adjoining both OEM and aftermarket parts manufacturers from all over the world, and consists of over 6,000 companies across the globe. The companies within the SEMA network  profit well over $20 billion dollars a year. The automotive aftermarket industry is a massive trade.

The SEMA Show, as it’s formally called, is hosted at the massive Convention Center complex in Las Vegas. At the show are mostly product manufacturers who show off their latest and greatest products in the form of displays or full vehicle builds. Many companies will build an entire car or truck solely for debut at the SEMA Show. It’s not just the vendors that make the show, though. Buyers, distributors, and the working media are all walking the floor checking out what’s new. For us, it’s a great way to see where the industry is headed and we think it’s a good way to wrap up the show/racing season. It brings the entire automotive community together in just four days. When you think about all that, you realize quickly that it’s tough to fit everything (and everyone) in the industry into a convention hall…but SEMA somehow manages to do it…

That being said, we spent most of our time trying to cover as much as possible so we could bring the latest happenings in the industry to you; along with talking to other guys in the media and speaking with vendors about their new builds and products. There truly is so much to take in and you cannot see everything at the show in just a single day. Thus, we’ll probably have several posts making up our coverage. We’ll stay fairly chronological here, so as not to skip around and miss anything.

We’ll start with our departure to Vegas…


Taking a break in Barstow, CA on Monday night.  After a full day of work/school and fighting traffic to get out of Los Angeles, all of us were pretty tired. We arrived in Vegas late that night and went for a bite at Holstein’s in the Cosmopolitan. After that, we prepared our gear for the next day and got as much sleep as we could…


On Tuesday morning, we arrived at the convention center bright and early and picked up our badges at the media center. From there, we immediately began eyeing some of the new builds…


We spotted this amazing combo in one of the side halls. This S2000 is from ScienceOfSpeed, an exclusive S2000/NSX builder. The custom aero is just amazing…this might be one of my favorite S2000s to date.


A footnote on the wheels. They are Gram Lights 57Xtremes, and you will notice a lot of builds that used them this year…


This crazy FD RX-7 was posted up next to it. According to one of our sources, it is swapped with a 3-rotor and pretty much built from the ground up. Interesting approach on the fender mirrors, too…


Work Emotion CR wheels and R888s…deadly…


We made our way through the already-packed central hall, where most of the big-name companies are.


We entered the hall near the RAYS Engineering booth…



And we were immediately greeted by the first FR-S, rolling on Gram Lights and featuring Rocket Bunny aero mods.


Over at Source Interlink Media, we found another FR-S, this one in sort of a shamrock green color and again playing host to a Rocket Bunny body kit.


The kit is so streamlined and simple. It works great with the car!


BBS wheels, AP racing brake calipers and Toyo Proxes RS1 tires…



McLaren MP4-12C at the HRE Wheels booth. HRE is among the highest echelon of wheel manufacturers, known for their precise craft, innovative finishes, custom sizing and wide range of uses. We visited HRE’s facility in Carlsbad earlier in the year…



A tablet showing the different finishes available…




Lamborghini Aventador LP-700 from Underground Racing, also sporting a set of HREs…


Ford has one of the biggest displays in central hall. Here, they were running video of Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s new video, 2nd Shift Drift.


Just as we arrived at the booth, Ford had finished unveiling a modern Cobrajet engine – a twin-turbocharged 5.0L V8.


Open wheel car built with a Ford racing engine…


Like last year with the ’65-’70 Mustang bodies, Ford unveiled the limited reissue of another classic body style. This year, it is the 1940 Ford Coupe.



Cool little rally Fiesta with meaty gravel tires on.


Track-ready Focus build…


The Focus ST version was actually just released here in the states. We’re looking forward to seeing some more builds into 2013…



This Focus had an interesting body kit on it. Not quite sure if I like it, but it’s an interesting take…


Ford’s very own Tanner Foust mocked up a special ST build just for SEMA.


This car has a very interesting story behind it. The shell is actually a belly fuel tank from a 40s-era warplane. As a land speed car, they used it because of its streamlined shape and minimal drag. It features a 2-liter supercharged Ford Ecotec engine and only weighs about 1700 lbs…


BMW Rolex Grand AM car just outside the Ford booth. First time seeing a BMW RGA car in person…very cool…


Crazy custom rod at the Dynamat booth.


Mascot made of air suspension components…


In the exterior pavilion, Lexus was showing their new LF-CC coupe concept. This car is intended to be an electric-hybrid platform and set the stage for the next generation of Lexus vehicles.


A new 2013 Lexus LS, with modifications done by Five-Axis. While I like Lexus as a brand, I can’t say that I am a fan of their new design principle with the all the sharp angles and opposing “V” facades and such. It’s very distracting and takes away from an otherwise attractive array of cars…


The Nurburgring Edition LFA…


Eibach Springs with their FR-S R&D build…


BMW 135i at the Hawk Brake Pads booth.


Hawk also had an R&D FR-S for their high-performance brake components.


One of the few LMS cars that were on display, this Bilstein Audi R8 GT3 won the 24 hours of Nurburgring earlier in the year.



Crazy exhaust setup called the “Revolver” that was presented at the Magnaflow booth.



Like last year, the Hennessey Venom GT made another appearance at the Meguiar’s booth.


…still just as insane.


Some more insanity…an LS3-swapped Nova Wagon from Turbonetics…



Hyundai’s booth was great this year. They unveiled several new “one-off” editions of the Veloster and Genesis, and they were getting plenty of attention on the show floor.


They also had a neat big-screen twitter feed for people to interact with.


JP-Edition Veloster, featuring beautiful BASF Mint Green paint and custom body kit by Jon Sibal.



Bisimoto’s highly anticipated 600-horsepower Elantra GT build. Good to see that Bisi is still after making crazy amounts of power, even out of the Honda scene…haha…





Here’s the “Alpine” concept Veloster, configured with a roof rack and some rally flaps and other cutesy accessory for an amateur weekend on the slopes. Nice on paper, but purposefully, I think this thing would get pretty thrashed in the snow…haha…


Here’s the RE:MIX Edition Veloster, which is actually a planned factory production model. It features an exclusive color, body kit and wheels, upgraded interior, audio as well as push-button start and is estimated to price around the $20,000 mark.


The ARK Genesis R-Spec Coupe “Track Edition” with race-ready aero kit, ARK custom DTP coilovers, Yokohama Advan RS2 tires and a peak power output of about 395 horsepower. Not bad at all…


Opening day at SEMA passed us by very quickly. We covered as much ground as possible, and then headed to the airport to pick up a friend who flew in. After that, we went down to the strip to chill for a bit.


Spotted this FD cruising down the Las Vegas Boulevard…




Caesar’s Palace…




We ate at The Mirage buffet…


Our night wrapped up fairly early as we were still pretty tired and one of our guests wasn’t feeling too well, so we figured it would be best to wind down and prepare for the rest the week. What we saw in the first day was a small percentage of the show and we knew there was still a lot to experience. There will be more to come very soon…

For exclusive SEMA photos, or to connect with us directly, head over to our Facebook page.

Thanks for reading!

“2nd Shift Drift” (C) 2012 Ford Racing