The annual SEMA trade show in Las Vegas is a strange affair since it's neither open to the public nor does it promote European automotive culture. However, it's the biggest event of its kind in the US and we're obliged to sift through the ranks of Mustangs and Holley carbs to find whatever Euro goodness we can extract.
In recent years, Euro representation was actually on the increase, with many parts manufacturers looking to the lucrative European sector for added income. For 2009, in the face of an economic meltdown, most reverted to type and filled their booths with domestic muscle - the new Camaro seemingly the most popular option.
Tire manufacturers generally choose European performance cars to imply their products have high performance credentials. But in 2009, with 12 major tire manufacturers absent, this reduced our prey considerably.
And when faced with a drought, we've been known to seek solace from a pretty face. However, SEMA '09 again disappointed with a ball-shrinking absence of lovelies. In fact, one booth opted for store mannequins dressed in seductive lingerie rather than having girls complain about their feet hurting in heels all day. It's a shocking state of affairs when magazine editors can't even count on cleavage to get them through a four-day trade show. Thank goodness for Crazy Horse!
Relax. We're only kidding. Step away from the keyboard. No need to email your disgusted rant...
The point is, the show had pretty slim pickings. But at least we don't work for an Audi-exclusive publication. We met one web guy who'd spent four days to find five cars on display. Two were stock, two had little more than wheels and only one merited his attention. That's a famine; particularly after it was rumored Audi NA would use the SEMA show to unleash a trio of highly modified B8 S4s to entice tuners to buy the new supercharged V6.
Sadly, they didn't follow through on their plans, so it was left to Ford, GM and Scion to hand out cars to tuners, and the results on display were simply stunning. The Scion display produced the most imaginative work, with a retro pickup conversion winning our vote.