The SEMA Show is undoubtedly the most car-crazy, sleep-deprived and alcohol-infused event of the year. During the first week of November, thousands of people visit Las Vegas for a four-day convention that takes nearly the entire 39-hours of the show to see everything. For many tuners and car builders, it's the grand finale of the year as the best project cars and newest parts are unveiled. We also get a chance to catch up and party with all our industry colleagues. It's something we look forward to every year, but usually leaves us running on a few hours of sleep each day with our eyes bloodshot, bodies sore and livers hating us.
As far as event coverage goes, this year felt a little different compared to past SEMA shows mostly because of social media. Thanks to Instagram and Facebook, we knew about and posted nearly every cool car you'd want to take a look at online before the show even started. Because of this, we decided to only showcase the best of the best cars here. Check out our social media channels and superstreetonline.com if you're still hungry for more SEMA photos.
It goes without saying that one of the more popular booths to visit at SEMA is the one curated by Mackin Industries. Here we always find the latest wheels to come from the RAYS/Volk Racing (new is the CE28NRT Pressed Black) and ADVAN families (a return appearance by the infamous R's Tuning GT-R, used in the Fast and Furious 6 film), Project Mu and their own performance line, MXP. R's Tuning brought out a new GT-R that's actually decked out in full carbon fiber but to sex it up for Vegas, had a yellow wrap added. You can expect to see more in-depth features on the Varis-kitted Evo X and the PMU FR-S shortly. mackinindustries.com
One of the first things we noticed is that this Mk1 Golf Racer is right-hand drive—this car was built at Forge Motorsport's UK headquarters and transported here to showcase in Garrett's SEMA booth as well as run in our Super Lap Battle (see P. 54). Under the hood of this bad boy is a 1.8-liter turbo swap that features a Garrett GTX2860 and mated with a six-speed gearbox. The exterior boasts custom arches, side skirts, front bumper and more that are tribute to its Berg Cup hill climb heritage. The car is a complete one-off package that's not just built to break necks but be one of the quickest old-school Golfs ever built. forgemotorsport.com, turbobygarrett.com
Although SEMA is a nonstop party for all attendees, Scion likes to take things one step further by treating industry heads to a party before the party. At their SEMA preview event, held in downtown LA a week prior, they unveiled the three competing cars for the tC Tuner Challenge and the other supporting booth projects, including GReddy's 2J-powered FR-S (also voted "Best JDM" at the Sony Playstation GT Awards), the "Strictly Business" Cartel Customs xB limo, Bulletproof's ultra-JDM FR-S and the Urban GT Sport Coupe FR-S, which was built by J-TACS, a sub-tuning division of Toyota Japan. But it would be the City of Sin where the winner of the tC Tuner Challenge would be announced. A first for us this year was working with Scion to help assemble the three competitors and providing our feedback for judging. It was really a tough game to call, and we can tell you that the points difference between the cars was minimal; each tC had their strong positives but small flaws as well. In the end, Young Tea came up on top with the "Simpli-tC" concept; a turbocharged, bagged and very clean build that really hit all categories, plus the bragging rights and $10K. Walter Franco's L-DZ concept, a VIP-inspired/nitrous-fueled project might've come in Second but killed the social media world, capturing the Scion Tuner Challenge Fan Vote, where people voted for their favorite build through Scion Racing's Facebook and Instagram pages; that netted Walter a $7K prize and a special Super Street Fan Favorite cover award. Third place honors went to Josh Croll for creating the WSD tC, which was converted to right-hand drive, turbocharged and its engine bay shaved clean; his efforts pulled in a nice reward of $5K.
Tucked far off in the upper new vendors hall was this pristine RX-7. TCP Magic GT widebody and wing, plus a fresh set of ISS Forged GT7s... oh lordy! Keep an eye out for this guy in the future pages of SS. Alongside the FD was this breathtaking RWB 993 aka "Catalina." issforged.com
Lexus turned to the Deviant Art online community to help create their SEMA IS project; from over 500 entries and 25 finalists, they chose Rob "psas" Evans's design and had VIP Auto Salon bring the car to life. As you can see, the front and rear fenders have been flared out nice and wide, the car brought down low by an AccuAir air suspension and one-off 20x10.5"/20x13" Nutek wheels. lexus.com/sema
Rauh-Welt Begriff made waves at SEMA two years ago with Mark Arcenal's phenomenal green 964 turbo widebody (also graced our cover 6/12). Founder of RWB, Akira Nakai has made a return this year with his own personal 930 built for the show. It flosses RWB's signature super widebody kit, painted BASF Rubystone red, slammed on KW coilovers and 18x10/13" Work Meister M1 wheels and houses Recaro Pole Position seats. One of the cleanest RWB examples we've seen to date! rauh-welt.com, toyotires.com
While LTMW was building the Liberty Walk 458 and GT-R for the show, they managed to pull out this stunning Subaru BRZ. Owned by one of their mechanics, the car wasn't even supposed to have a Rocket Bunny Version 2 kit, or be inside the show, but all the right factors came together for it to be front and center in the Nitto Tire booth. It's the ultimate street car with KW coilovers, BBS LMs, Recaro seats and a Vortech blower. It also looks majestic in Subaru's factory blue pearl. ltmw.com, nittotire.com
All-wheel drive and ready for a road trip, this IS250 was one of the cleanest Lexus' we've come across and it's all about function! The exterior runs a TRD kit, plus custom flares, roof rack and storage case. It's also using GReddy bolt-ons, Sparco seats, Evasive rollcage, TEIN coilovers and RAYS wheels. Perhaps the sickest part is the bike—a limited edition Lexus carbon-fiber road bike! toyotires.com
SEMA's the kind of place where only those who dare to go wild with custom modifications can see their vision come to fruition, and if you're one of the four teams selected for Toyota's Dream Build Challenge, it's the perfect destination to show it off. One competitor that made our jaws drop was Kyle Busch Motorsports, who along with Parker Kligerman and Detroit Speed, Inc. came up with a Camry that is unlike the ones you typically encounter. Enter the CamRally: this normally sedate sedan was smacked up, flipped and rubbed down for rally action with a turbocharged V6 engine, vintage Toyota livery, widened body, stripped interior and loads more racing accessories. We've begged Toyota for some seat time but we're not sure if they trust us driving this around the streets of SoCal (we'd be leary, too)... toyota.com/dreambuilds
One of the first cars in the U.S. to receive the Version 2 body kit from Rocket Bunny, the Falken Tire/Discount Tire BRZ also promises to be one of the hottest cars for Formula Drift this season. It's not just cool because it's Dai Yoshihara's new ride but Forza 5 was used as a vehicle to help promote a livery design contest, the final outcome which you'll probably see soon enough. I can't wait to see this car hit the track for the first time. falkentire.com, discounttire.com
Unveiled at Scion's SEMA preview party was this unexpected hit: GReddy's 2JZ-GTE-powered FR-S, a completely new car for their 2014 racing efforts. This isn't a remake of the car you saw in FD 2013, this is a separate chassis, also sporting the new V2 Rocket Bunny aero. So far, fans around the world have been praising the "dream" engine swap and it'll be exciting to see if it does prove to outshine the original FA20 engine. greddy.com
Usually when Bisi Ezerioha calls me, I know he has really exciting news to share with me. Late last summer, he told me of a certain SEMA build that would be unlike anything he's ever done. Instead of a two-door, turbo hatch that I'm normally used to seeing, he came out with this Odyssey: bagged, slammed and pushing a massive turbo. And yes, he's already confirmed that he'll bring us to the drag strip for its maiden voyage and will do so in typical Bisimoto style: starting off with a big, smokey burnout. Love this guy! bisimoto.com
Is it weird that my top 3 cars aren't Japanese or European cars? Maybe I'm just jaded but hopefully some of you can feel me here. My three favs happen to be American but the creativity and quality craftsmanship into these three cars surpass anything else at this year's SEMA in my opinion.
Doesn't make deliveries but that didn't stop me from falling in love with this FedEx truck built by Mobsteel. It's a 100% custom work of art that uses an '81 Freighliner front-end. While slammed on semi-truck wheels and 40" tires, it's also got tons of torque—1200 lb-ft to be exact from a 5.9 Cummins diesel straight-six. mobsteel.com
At first glance it looks like your typical flat black "raper" van but the side door was left open and broke my neck. The '64 Corvair is powered by a Chevy V8 big block with two centrifugal superchargers from TorqStorm. The mid-engine van threw down over 1000hp on the dyno so I guess it's okay it can't lure victims into the van.
I normally don't pay attention to muscle cars, but when I spotted the "F your Veyron" sticker on this '72 Camaro, I had to go in for a closer look. Posted up in the HRE booth, the Camaro built by Pure Vision Design was a masterpiece—not a single flaw on the body that's been painted Aston Martin Tungsten. The interior is upholstered using Aston Martin Bitter Chocolate leather but perhaps the icing on the cake is under the hood. Twin-turbo 427 small block that boasts 1400hp! Yeah, good luck Bugatti! purevisiondesign.com, hrewheels.com
I'm not much of a Euro guy but the Slek/Ksport Z4M stole the show for me. Featuring a full-on Slek carbon widebody kit, Ksport big brakes, supercharger and custom wheels by RSV Forged, this monster is ready to tackle the track.
Itinerary of a Super Street Editor
7:30AM - 8:30AM - Wake-up call and self-composure time.
8:30AM - 9:00AM - Make way to convention center.
9:00AM - 5:00PM - Walk the convention center floor to photograph best cars, newest parts and scantily-clad women, plus talk with vendors and manufacturers.
5:00PM - 5:45PM - Wait and transit time for taxi back to hotel (which is only two miles away).
5:45PM - 6:30PM - Bust out the iron and turn the water on hot, it's time to get fancy for the night's festivities.
6:30PM - 7:00PM - Hail another cab to first event of the night, typically an industry dinner.
7:00PM - 9:00PM - Continuous drinking while being served platters of gourmet food.
9:00PM - 4:30AM - Drink, taxi, party, drink, party, drink, party, strip club (if deemed necessary), party, taxi...
4:30AM - 7:30AM - Pass the eff out!