I’ve been going to SEMA for more than a dozen years now, and I’ve seen it go from an over the top, in-your-face festival of insanity during the peak of the internet boom in the early 2000s to a ghost town a half a dozen years later thanks to the global recession. The good news is that SEMA is back and stronger than ever.
For years now, the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) show has been the de facto end of the year gathering of tuners, gearheads, industry folks, speed freaks and other weirdos from around the globe. Occupying more than a million net square feet, with more than 2,000 exhibitors, 10,000+ booth spaces and a total attendance of more than 100,000, SEMA is the second largest trade show in Vegas behind only the Consumer Electronic Show.
I went there and checked it out for 2015. I was not disappointed.
I had originally planned for the title of this to be the Best of the Worst of SEMA as year after year I have seen the most horrific, tasteless things done to cars all in the name of “tuning.”
But as I roamed the endless aisles of this year’s show, one thing became very apparent: cheesy has left the building.
That’s not to say there weren’t some remnants of the too much money and a lack of adult supervision, but on the whole this year’s SEMA show was filled with row after row of cars that I would gladly own.
As long as I could swap the wheels out with different wheels. I’m a human being, after all.
So here now for your enjoyment is my photodump extravaganza of the best of the best of the 2015 SEMA show.
It all started with an eerie quiet. Not sure where the crowds are.....
Ah here are some folks. Wonder why they’re just standing around?
Ummm this isn’t looking good.
Damn I hope this isn’t the line to pick up badges....
Dammit, that’s exactly what it is! For years the one thing that I’ve given SEMA huge props for is their super speedy on-site registration. Usually I can get in and out in a few minutes, but since they’ve mored it next door to the Westgate it’s been an all-out fiasco. This year’s wait was just shy of two hours.
Lexus has nabbed the prime spot just inside the front door of the main hall. This year’s exhibit did not disappoint with the brand’s GT3 car taking center stage.
Hmmm, I wonder who this guy is?
Lots of famous guys show up.
Rutledge in the house!
IMSA fast guy Eric Curran.
One of the nicest cars I saw at SEMA was actually a truck.
Bulletproof’s Bimmer doing its best GT3 impression.
One of the cleanest examples of an Exige that I’ve seen.
Corvette Racing’s GTE car doing its best impression of a Le Mans winner...
With some history.
SRO’s Steffan Ratel. The father of modern GT racing and new Pirelli World Challenge head honcho Greg Gill grinning like the cats that swallowed the canary knowing that they will have one of the best GT events anywhere in the world next year when Blancpain and PWC join forces at COTA. If GT racing is your thing then you need to be there.
Okay, like I said, not all of the cheesy has left the building.
I don’t know what the hell this is but the guys at Valerian Steel stuffed a Ford Coyote motor in it so I guess you can call it a car.
Fords new GT looks all the business in the flesh.
As does the race car!
I’m still available next season Ford. You have my number...
Ford always fills their booth with some interesting concepts.
Drag Racing Against Gangs and Graffiti:
Ford Mustang Fastback:
Like I said not all of the best things at SEMA are cars. Fully in lust with this Black Ops 4x4 at the Spyder booth.
Orange. Nuff said
American supercar manufacturer Rossian brought their new carbon bodied offering.
This was one of the biggest show stoppers of this year’s show. Full Looney Toons treatment.
God I hope this thing is road legal!
Bobby Allison’s BRE Datsun that raced in the SCCA 2.5 Challenge Trans-AM Series in 1971 and 1972.
I’m just a bit frightened of the PPG paint booth
Toyotas interesting Utility Concept
Okay come on. Who among you hasn’t wanted to do this.
Because Rally Car.
One of my favs of the show was Penske Racing Shocks Camaro.
Old Car + Modern Go Fast Bits = Badass Race Car.
Someone needs to take this concept and make a race series out of it.
One of each, please.
Ok GM just because you can doesn’t always mean you should...
NASA Racings new Prototype class for the masses the NP01.
1450 lbs. 185 hp. $65,000 ready to race. Should be a big hit!
I know I shouldn’t like this but I can’t help myself. Super sexy Z4M Roadster concept.
Wait, who let Mansory in here?
Toy made up for the Rolls by pairing it with this Ferrari.
The smallest wheel in this shot is a 22”....
Yes I know its just a rebodied and rebadged Volt but I really like this Caddy.
Continuing the Electric car theme is this i8
Nice take on the Burmos Racing paint scheme on the fivenine designs Porsche Turbo.
The Dodge Viper Sim. They had the whole car on shakers for full effect.
Swan song for the Viper ACR that posted laps records at 13 tracks.
Very Blue Fiat 500x Chicane by Mopar.
Ooooh, nice Jeep.
Not all trucks were as classy as the Jeeps.
Even blind people were like, “Um don’t you think thats a bit much?”
Taking a brake with the guys from Alcon.
The fail is strong with this one.
Not sure what this goes on but whatever it is I want one.
Because Mini race car.
VR glasses, making people look like idiots since always.
JDM Datsun Sunny Lite Pickup truck FTW!
Rocket Bunny Widebody NSX.
Nissan S14 with bike rack.
Caddy ATS GT Coupe by Reth Cadillac Tuning.
Factory Five Cobra Jet Challenge Project with 625 ponies.
GM’s Camaro Black Concept is coming for your soul.
Because DirtFish Rally.
TRG Aston GT3 car driven by Christina Nielsen, Kuno Witmer, Brandon Davis. Christina fell two points shy of becoming the first female sports car champ in international racing.
Lovely Marlboro replica paint job on the bbi Porsche.
Ford’s Dry Lakes 3 Window Coupe.
B Forged Wheels Lambo.
1938 Lincoln Coddington. Winner of the most phallic car at the show... or in history.
H&R Springs Zero Fucks given BMW M5.
More lines at SEMA. This one is for the Monorail back to the hotels.
Brian Scotto’s Recoil 3 debut.
Crowds were “treated” to a rare Vegas thunderstorm at the GRC finals. They were also “treated” to a fine covering of mud filled spray off the GRC cars every lap leaving all in attendance in need of a good shower before heading out to the post race parties
The view of the SEMA floor from Fords VIP hospital booth. To give you an idea of scale this picture shows less about 20 percent of the total floor space at the show.
Overhead shot of Ford’s booth.
Steve Rogers called, he’d like his Jeep back.
Rat Rod jeep!
More Pagani. This time at the GoPro booth.
Not my style but you have to admire the craftwork that went into this Buick Rivera.
Mazda’s sexy as hell MX5 Roadster Concepts.
Kia’s Mud Bogger Concept.
My favorite of the whole show was this 1967 Vette built and painted by Mike Goldman Customs.
The Cheese is back!
Very clean Audi S4
Its amazing. Porsche is making an infinite number variants of the 991 but apparently that’s not enough. I’m pretty sure that they’ve never made a Targa 4 GTS.
Still its not the worst idea.
The Shelby F150 for those times when you need a 700 hp Pick Up
The Optima Battery booth constantly has the most interesting cars as the Optima Battery Ultimate Street Car Shoot Out takes place the Saturday after the show ends.
Lastly a shout out to Compass360 for loaning us their TTRS Conti Challenge car to display at the Gurit Carbon booth.
What was your favorite thing about SEMA this year?
Robb Holland races in the British Touring Car Championship for Rotek Racing. He’s a Jalopnik contributor who basically lives at the Nürburgring most of the year. He is also the tallest man in Germany.