The Super Street SEMA Ultimate Awards with Meguiar's has undoubtedly been my favorite part of the annual Las Vegas convention industry event. It gives my co-judge, RJ de Vera and I the opportunity to comb the show row-by-row searching for our top three cars. Unlike other SEMA trophies handed out which cater more toward domestic and hot rod builds, our award recognizes exceptional builders of modified Japanese and European cars. With this year's physical SEMA Show being cancelled, I felt a little teary eyed and decided to take a look back at all of the winners over the last five years. Enjoy the trip down memory lane and also checkout themeguiarsexperience.com to see what new car care products and feature vehicles would've been showcased in the Meguiar's booth this year.
Honda Integra Type R - Best of Show
Builder: Ryan Basseri
Why we love it: What started out as a JDM DC2 ITR shell picked up for under a thousand bucks became one of the most advanced Honda builds we've ever seen.
Highlights include a sequential transmission, custom pneumatic paddle shifter, Porsche GT3 RS-inspired paint and livery, turbo K-series powerplant, dry-sump oiling system and sophisticated motorsports-level wiring. Read the full feature here.
Builder: Mike Burroughs
Why we love it: The infamous "Rusty Slammington" stole the show inside the H&R booth, especially considering it caught fire four years prior. Mike Burroughs had to rebuild the entire E28 BMW, which takes on a new identity with a custom chopped and rusted rad rod with FIA Group 5 vibes.
There's simply nothing that's original on this car anymore, from its new tube chassis to the repositioned A-pillars, lengthened doors, shorter wheelbase, rebuilt S38 engine, and staggered Porsche BBS wheels.
1974 Datsun Sunny Pickup
Builder: Dominic Le
Why we love it: From the front, it looks like you might've just encountered a Hakosuka Skyline. Start turning the corner and you'll be shocked to discover this is in fact a Datsun Sunny Pickup! Nicknamed "Hakotora", the conversion comes from 09racing in Japan and virtually everything is constructed of dry carbon fiber.
Builder Dominic Le went the extra mile by swapping in a SR20DET and fabricating a completely custom carbon-fiber truck bed and tailgate, plus fitting a custom Hakosuka dash and center console. Mind blown! Read the full feature here.
1975 Datsun 280Z - Best of Show
Builder: Chris Forsberg
Why we love it: We're often used to seeing three-time Formula DRIFT champion Chris Forsberg at the track, but to actually build a car for SEMA - now this is something special!
In a year where there were a ton of Datsuns at SEMA, Chris, surprised us all with his gold G-nose 280Z equipped with a RB25DET swap, plenty of billet parts and a completely custom Carbon Signal interior. Read the full feature here.
1972 Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-X
Builder: Ginash George
Why we love it: Restored by Utah-based JDM Legends, Ginash George's Hakosuka might not be a true GT-R but it looks the part (perhaps even better). It features some GT-R styling cues and upgrades, plus a carb'd L20 engine and Watanabe wheels.
It's not a groundbreaking build in the classic Japanese car world but seeing it front and center at SEMA with all of the precision and quality of JDM Legends was a treat. Read the full feature here.
1993 Mazda RX-7
Builder: Phil Barone
Why we love it: This FD RX-7 probably leaves a lot of question marks in people's heads that have never heard of RE Amemiya.
However, seeing RE's famous Porsche front-end conversion, plus the fenders, GReddy rear, and still retaining a half-bridge-ported 13B-REW rotary makes this one of the most stunning JDM cars to ever display at SEMA. Read the full feature here.
1993 Mazda RX-7 - Best of Show
Builder: Sam Morris
Why we love it: The "Pistachio FD" is one of the most bonkers RX-7 builds we've ever seen. Inside is a turbocharged V8 within a shaved bay, titanium piping, Mil-spec harness and V-mount cooling setup.
It also wears a Rocket Bunny widebody conversion and lots of other carbon parts; however, its overall execution and the 1,200whp it summons is what really sets this car apart. Read the full feature here.
2001 Nissan Silvia
Builder: Jason Pham
Why we love it: This S15 Silvia feels like a tasteful blend of a JDM dream car with an import car show champion. Gone is the SR20 replaced by a Skyline GT-R's RB26DETT (built up to 609whp), not to mention the Midnight Purple paint pays homage to the R34.
There's also a parts list filled with brands like ARC, GReddy, Vertex, M Sport, RAYS, Bride, Nismo and Cusco. The icing on the cake is the full stereo system in the trunk, which I haven't seen since the 2000's. Read the full feature here.
2000 Honda S2000
Builder: Ryan Basseri
Why we love it: Our first two-time winner of the Super Street SEMA Awards goes to Ryan Basseri who's the mastermind behind this sweet S2000.
It features an authentic Mugen kit that's been widened, built and stroked F-series engine with a wild ITB setup and motorsport plumbing and electronics all around. Read the full feature here.
1990 Mazda RX-7 Turbo II - Best of Show
Why we love it: This is the ultimate FC RX-7 and a car RJ and I couldn't ignore. Slammed to the floor, this Mazda screams hardcore JDM vibes with the debut of the Pandem FC conversion made up of the fenders, front bumper, rear diffuser, wing and quad driving lights. What follows next is truly quite beautiful because it didn't need anything over the top.
The modifications are cleanly executed from the engine bay, stripped interior, custom rollcage and reconditioned 13B turbo rotary. This car looks as if it should've broken ground at Tokyo Auto Salon but the fact that it made one of the biggest headlines at SEMA made it well-worthy of our Best of Show award. Read the full feature here.
1988 BMW M3
Builders: Cory Rowan, Zach Lagarenne, Justin Burch, Parker Brown, Reese Cochran, Isaac Gesundheit, Peter Golledge
Why we love it: This is one of the most uncompromised BMW E30 M3 builds in history with a bare metal restoration, F80 M3 S55 engine and transmission swap, custom tubular suspension and Cardinal Napa red leather interior.
Best of all, it's been put together by a group of six young students from Colorado all inside of a 1.5-car garage using basic tools and with little to no experience building cars. Let's just say they put their names on the map and then some with this BMW masterpiece that stood up against SEMA's best. Read the full feature here.
1985 Mazda RX-7
Builder: Jesus Lopez
Why we love it: It's not often we see first-gen Mazda RX-7s, but Jesus Lopez' example was one that wasn't just done well, but also tells a story. Jesus is still a young guy but he picked up this FB to try and recreate the RX-7 that his father had once owned in the early '90s; however, Jesus went the extra mile by overhauling a bridge-ported 13B rotary, then strapping a BorgWarner turbo to it.
The semi-shaved bay is easily one of the coupe's biggest highlights but there's also custom bits like the lip kit, rear window louvers and carbon fiber headlight covers that make this one of the coolest old school Japanese cars that've popped up in Las Vegas. Read the full feature here.
2020 Toyota Supra - Best of Show
Why we love it: We didn't want to give GReddy another Best of Show award but when they bring something like this drift-themed A90 Supra (in the "Year of the Supra"), it was hard not to give credit where credit is due. Instead of swapping in a 2JZ (which everyone wanted them to do), GReddy was able to take the BMW-based B58 engine along with a MoTeC full standalone ECU, BorgWarner turbo and one-off GReddy components to create 650hp, which was monstrous for that engine at the time.
Other impressive additions include the Samsonas sequential, M3 rear differential with OS Giken LSD, Formula DRIFT-spec 'cage and Pandem widebody conversion. To this day, even after the new Supra has been out for a year, this Supra by GReddy still is the best A90 built, period.
1994 Mazda RX-7
Builder: Jonathan Grunwald
Why we love it: This RX-7 is a prime example that you can continue to evolve your project car year after year. Veteran builder Jonny Grunwald has been on the cover of Super Street as well as won countless car show awards, but he shocked us all when he returned to SEMA with a 720hp 13B-REW rebuild and updated TCP Magic aero that features a bunch more carbon.
The new look is finished off in a satin blue wrap that transforms the entire persona of the RX-7 without taking away from its functional track-ready theme and JDM origins. Read the original feature here.
1989 Honda Civic
Builder: Nick Higgins
Why we love it: Because you never come across a well-engineered old school Honda Civic parked front and center at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Nick Higgins had been featured in Super Street years before and even went MIA for a couple of years, but he returned with his epic Civic that might look simple to some, but every inch has been touched and its theme repurposed for time attack.
Under the hood is an all-motor K-series that makes 280hp. Nick's also added a rollcage, custom carbon front splitter, Gram Lights wheels and Porsche brakes. Like many winners of the Super Street SEMA Awards, this is a result of many sleepless nights and countless hours in the garage. Read the full feature here.