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February 2014 Spotlight - SEMA Week

Jan 20, 2014

It's been three days of stomping across carpeted floors, hall-to-hall, bumping shoulders with automotive businessmen and hardcore motorheads from around the world. That's right, SEMA week has come and gone, and while I'm no doubt winded, I feel good about what transpired during my stay in Vegas. The days consisted of meeting with vendors, hearing about and viewing a number of new products, and of course, putting faces to names that I've emailed back and forth with probably thousands of times. One of my favorite activities between meetings and pouring over some incredible cars is witnessing the casualties of the infamous SEMA party circuit trudging slowly across the show floor in an alcohol-induced daze that can only be compared to that of AMC's The Walking Dead. For car fans, it's the ultimate stop and one of those "must go" events that should no doubt appear somewhere on your automotive bucket list.

After a decade of attending the big convention I still enjoy walking the floor and taking it all in. Muscle car builds that teeter on the brink of absolute automotive perfection with every single piece of the car, inside and out, modified in a manner that only helps to drive home the ultimate theme of the vehicle. Fabrication that has showgoers shaking their heads in disbelief, and wacky, one-off "things" that you probably won't see anywhere elseā€”all stuffed into the massive Las Vegas Convention center. The "import of the month" as I like to call it, is the celebration of a particular vehicle that you will find in a number of booths and displays throughout the show. A few years ago it was Nissan's 350, and then 370Z, followed a few years later by their technological Goliath, the R35. More recently, with the entire buzz surrounding the release of the Scion FRS/Subaru BRZ, you couldn't walk more than two rows without running into one, and this year has proven to be very much the same. Love it or hate it, the FRS platform has a devout following and with so much support from Scion, they really made their mark quickly.

When I first started attending SEMA, there was certainly a larger Honda presence throughout the show. Faithfully, the American Honda booth is huge, and there are a number of cars on display along with some interesting extras to look over, like HPD-built engines and even some very cool race cars. Occasionally Honda has handpicked a group of people to put their own spin on a newly released model. A few years ago, it was the CR-Z and after that, the 9th-gen Si.

Beyond the Honda corner, as I like to call it, there are a few Honda/Acura builds sprinkled throughout the show but the presence is undoubtedly waning. Strange when you think about it, especially considering that as Honda enthusiasts, you and I live and breathe all things Honda-related. However, in a setting like SEMA, we're undeniably the minority. The hype surrounding newer cars like the FRS and other media standouts is really all you see during the weeklong Vegas adventure. Many cast the blame on Honda's current offerings, believing that they don't really have the "wow factor" that many of the others do. I can understand that, but I think it really boils down to what's going to be popular by enthusiast standards. There isn't a storm of Honda fans jumping into 9th-gen Civics, tearing them apart, and building them into neck breakers and quite honestly, that's not what most of us do. Buying an older model that sells for far less and can be fitted with an array of engine options and plenty of aftermarket support is typically the formula for most people. That being said, most manufacturers aren't chomping at the bit to release parts for the new Hondas at SEMA like they once did. Cars like the iconic '99 Si, which, everyone knew was going to be a hit, were met with plenty of support on the red carpet, but since then, things have slowed considerably.

Nevertheless, if you're an automotive enthusiast that appreciates all types of cars and you find yourself in a position to attend SEMA, I highly suggest you do it. It's an amazing experience and sensory overload is almost guaranteed your first time around. Just don't expect to be greeted by hoards of Honda builds as those days seem to be long gone.

By Rodrez
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