I've been attending the annual SEMA Show for more than 15 years, which is slim in comparison to my industry friends who've regularly attended the convention 20- and 30-plus years. For those living under a rock, or who have no idea what SEMA is; it's the Super Bowl of car events when it comes to showcasing the latest parts, newest technology, and of course, the wildest builds. When I first got my feet wet at 19, the presence of sport compacts was small, but as each year passed, the size of SEMA multiplied.
Today, there's more than 2 million square feet of ground to cover, 2,000-plus exhibitors, and more than 150,000 attendees that walk the Las Vegas Convention Center. With SEMA's tremendous growth, our community of import car enthusiasts has established a much larger presence at the yearly event. Instead of turning every corner only to find only hot rods and Mustangs, you're likely to encounter drift and time-attack competitors, showstopping Japanese builds, and amazing Euros as well. Despite all of this, former Super Street Editor-at-Large, RJ de Vera, and I noticed the men and women behind the vehicles we enjoy admiring at SEMA weren't being formally recognized. Sure, there were plenty of accolades acknowledging every form of Ford and Chevy, but there was nothing that spoke to the vehicles you and I care about. So, four years ago, with RJ's support at Meguiar's, we created the Super Street SEMA Ultimate Award.
What's unique about our award is we aren't looking for rides that'll rack up the most points at your typical car show or have the most sponsors 'n' biggest budgets; rather, we're looking for builders who have achieved a beautiful overall style, top-level execution, and great attention to detail. These builders will also have a story to tell and inspire other enthusiasts out there. We've been able to feature every recipient of the Super Street SEMA Ultimate Award since 2015, and as you've hopefully noticed, we've been able to continue that tradition with the Best of Show winner, GReddy's Pandem FC Mazda RX-7, on this month's cover. We'd also like to tip our hats to Jesus Lopez, who's already Super Street alumni, plus the young guns from Honest Assembly—their epic BMW M3 will grace our pages later this year.
BEST OF SHOW
GReddy, 1990 Mazda RX-7 Turbo II
Booth: Toyo Tires
Located in the Toyo Tires Treadpass, the Pandem FC Mazda RX-7 screamed Super Street cover car, and that's exactly what happened! Thanks to its hardcore Japanese styling, restomod vibes, and perfect execution, RJ and I unanimously agreed Kenji Sumino and his team at GReddy were indeed the best of the 2018 SEMA Show!
For 2018, RJ and I have strived to make our SEMA Award more special with doper prizes. We included a limited-edition Super Street Garage bomber jacket and tee, one-off collab duffel bag with The Shrine (@theshrine.co), and a carbon-fiber Meister watch (@mstrwatches).
Former Super Street Award winner and alumni Dominic Le of Chasing J's helped us craft these incredible trophies made from exotic wood and real titanium.
Honest Assembly, 1998 BMW M3
Booth: CSF Radiators
Six college students by the names of Zach Lagarenne, Justin Bruch, Parker Brown, Reece Cochran, Isaac Gesundheit, and Peter Golledge came together to put together this E30 M3 for SEMA to raise awareness for their local Colorado charity, the Morgan Adams Foundation. None of them are professional car builders, but each possesses enthusiasm and passion for modifying cars. This E30 was completely stripped and restored using just handtools inside a home garage. It took them 11 months of late nights, plus some days of skipping school and social activities, all with a limited budget, to finish this car in time for SEMA. While everything inside and out looks pristine with a complete nut and bolt restoration job, the powerplant is a fully functional F80 M3 drivetrain. It also features MCS suspension, custom subframes, Cardinal red Napa leather swap, centerlock wheels, and much more.
Jesus Lopez, 1985 Mazda RX-7
Booth: Battle of the Builders Young Guns Display
If Jesus Lopez's SA22C/FB RX-7 looks familiar, it's because it was featured in the December 2017 issue. He was invited to SEMA from Central PA last summer as a competitor for Battle of the Builders Young Guns competition. Jesus paints cars by trade and picked up this RX-7 as an ode to his dad who owned an FB back in the day. His project car features a bridge-ported 13B rotary out of a second-gen RX-7, supplemented by a BorgWarner turbo, plenty of Schmuck Built custom-fabricated goodies, Techno Toy Tuning suspension, and custom exterior bits like the lip kit and hatch. Since our feature, he's updated things such as ceramic coating (black) the hot-side of the turbo, wastegate, swirl pot, and catch can. He's also added a Wilwood reverse-swing mount pedal assembly and one-off LED headlights, hid the coil packs within the dash, and shaved more areas of the bay for an ultra-clean look. We're hoping Jesus brings his car to the West Coast next, as it's truly an RX-7 that'll be remembered by everyone who can appreciate old-school Japanese cars for generations to come.