In some ways, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show is to the auto show season what the Daytona 500 is to the rest of the NASCAR season. They say Daytona, which is run in February each year to start the campaign, is the stock car series' most prestigious event every year (its "Super Bowl," if you will), and we'd argue the same about SEMA. Sure, LA, Detroit, Chicago, and New York all can boast concept and production world debuts of the cars we want, but the aftermarket show, which also uniquely starts the show "season," has fewer restrictions on creativity - that is, less interference by bean counters and focus groups that influence OEM fare - which makes for some insanely cool vehicles.
It's these "insanely cool" cars that we return to in this list, our 20 or so favorites from the 2011 aftermarket industry trade expo. They've all been mentioned in our coverage of this year's event (day one: http://www.urbanracer.com/articles/anmviewer.asp?a=5008&z=1, day two: http://www.urbanracer.com/articles/anmviewer.asp?a=5009&z=1, day three: http://www.urbanracer.com/articles/anmviewer.asp?a=5010&z=1), and included in the gallery are a host of other rides we found endearing but just didn't have the space to write about them. Enjoy.
FIVE AXIS PROJECT LEXUS GS
Troy Sumitomo and his design firm, Five Axis, have a resume that reads like a show car hall of fame, including the likes of the Scion DJ xB and DJ xB 2.0, FR-S and iQ concepts, and Lexus Project IS F, as well as many, many others. Project GS - based on the luxury brand's all-new sport sedan for 2013 - is pure sex like the others, rocking a custom wide-body conversion and FIVE:AD S5:F rims tied together through Glacier White paint with custom Slate Gray accents. Each corner is also outfitted in StopTech big brakes and AirRunner TC-5 air suspension, and out back a custom exhaust with dual finishers blends seamlessly into the body.
Swapped with a MAZDASPEED3 MZR 2.3-liter DISI turbo engine, the Turbo2 is one potent mutha' and adds to the Mazda2 with an HR coil-over suspension kit, Corksport sway bars and customized Brembo front brakes with 13-inch ventilated and slotted rotors. Yokohama ADVAN Neova 215/40R17 performance tires are mounted onto shiny black 17-inch OZ Racing wheels, and other exterior features include a Sonic White tri-coat with Brilliant Black on the lower panels, wheel arches, side skirts, and lower front fascia, and bright green and neon yellow graphics and trim pieces. The subcompact's cabin is done up in Katzin black leather seats featuring Baracuda Yellow perforated leather inserts and Sunrise Yellow seat piping, Star West custom floor mats, and outfitted with an AiM Pista MXL digital racing performance and data acquisition display.
NUMERIC SCION xB
For 686 Clothing's 20th anniversary, the snowboarding apparel brand teamed up with Scion Racing and Spin Imaging to develop the world's first and only car solely dedicated to snowboarding. The snow tires reflect NB686 snowboarding boots and are branded as New Balance tires. The roof is designed to emulate a Bern protective carbon-fiber helmet, complete with their patented brim technology. The windshield is designed from Dragon's APX frameless goggle. The Sparco modified seats are inspired from actual Union team snowboard bindings and are constructed in a high-back cup shaped form.
Arguably, the most incredible part of the car is what it's wrapped in. 686's technical textile background along with Spin Imaging's concepts and vehicle wrap technology came up with the world's first and only fully functional waterproof and breathable snowboarding outerwear vehicle, complete with stitched panels, laser welded seams, waterproof zipper and mesh venting.
BISIMOTOWERKS TWIN-TURBO PORSCHE 911
Longtime import racer and tuner Bisi Ezerioha showed everyone at SEMA 2011 that he does more than just Honda and Acura, producing the universally lauded Porsche 930 911 that sat in the NGK Spark Plugs booth. The wide-body rocked a new Bisimoto wheel design, the Eins Gramm, shod in Falken Tire rubber and fittingly came with a potent twin-turbo engine and gearbox from a contemporary 997 911 (fittingly because the 930 was Porsche's first production turbo car).
BISIMOTO 2012 HONDA CIVIC Si COUPE
Bisi also had a project car in the Honda booth, a turbo, 1,004-horsepower version of the new 2.4-liter Civic Si. Like the Porsche, this was a ground-up build, with the K24 mill rebuilt bigger and badder than its former self and introduced to a custom forced induction system. The interior was caged, the chassis dumped on an Eibach setup, the brakes upgraded with StopTech hardware, and also like the 930 the Civic sits on Falken-wrapped, 18-inch Eins Gramm rims in white. The exterior is decorated in a Gatorwrap custom wrap, Bisimoto Extreme Dimensions hood and aero upgrades, and Burns Stainless muffler and hardware, while inside are Buddy Club P1 racing seats and harness, a Racepack IQ3 dash, and Rueda interior paint.
PIT BOSS CARTEL SCION iQ
Customizer and drag racer Jeremy Lookofsky and his shop Cartel always make our best-of-SEMA wrap, and this year was no exception. Their iQ rocks Cartel's signature chop top with chopped and capped doors, one-piece welded rocker and side panels, and custom glass front window. In the back of the car SnapOn toolbox drawers and a cubby hole for a SnapOn jack are molded into the rear bumper. The micro is painted in House of Colors electric blue base with black two-tone top and hand-laid pinstripes throughout.
The interior space is decked out in black carbon-fiber and Orion gray seats, door panels, and trim pieces, and even boasts a tire rack and roll cage pit support, but the electronics are the standouts here. On the one hand you have a killer ICE setup made up of Alpine Audio amps, speakers, and subwoofers and Scosche wiring and interfaces; on the other, Lookofsky and Cartel have totally modernized the car, turning it into a WiFi hotspot via an AutoNet in-car router. Additionally, the micro's functions - like opening the doors or extending the motorized drawers on the back of the car - are programmed through RED EYE Automation, and full control is available onboard through an iPad or via iPhone app that Lookofsky developed.
EVS SCION iQ-RS
A city car as a time attack racer is, in theory, somewhat ridiculous, yet Evasive Motorsports and Michael Chang have us convinced this thing might impress a few people. The Scion Tuner Challenge entry flosses a number of custom aero and body bits developed by Evasive, including the flared fenders, vented hood, front lip and splitter, rear diffuser, side splitter, and mount on the hatch for the Voltex GT wing. The carbon-fiber canards were also sourced from Voltex, and the shell dons a Wraptivo matte-white wrap with custom red pin-striping accents, accented by the custom ADVAN Racing RT wheels under each fender.
The cabin was gutted and transformed into a full racer interior, with a custom six-point roll cage and a full complement of Sparco grip, like EVO seats with six-point three-inch harnesses, racing side mounts, steering wheel and weld-on quick release, and pedals. To that, Evasive engineered carbon door panels, trunk panel and reinforcement plate, fuel cell, the carbon dash trim, warning indicator and toggle switch, carbon center console with suspension control, and the rally-style shifter (this after the naked chassis was coated in a racing epoxy).
ILLEST RWB PANDORA ONE PORSCHE 911
The 964 with the biggest buzz at SEMA is a product of Fatlace founder and creative Mark Arcenal and Rauh-Welt Begriff Porsches' Akira Nakai, two hugely influential car builders that joined forces to create the first US-built RWB 911. FFTEC Motorsports in Hayward, Calif. built the turbo motor, tuned it, and fabricated the roll cage, while TNT in Sacramento sprayed the classic sports car satin green.
The Porsche rolls on exclusive 18-inch RWB wheels constructed by Rotiform and shod in Falken Azenis stickiness, and behind the Rotiforms are Brembo GT brakes, while the standard springs and shocks have been replaced with KW V3 coilovers. Arcenal has also fitted KW's HLS System, which is a remote-operated hydraulic lift that is fitted to the shock body.
FATLACE CHEVROLET SONIC
One of five Chevy subcompacts for the 2011 show went to Arcenal, who gave it a perfect offset stance and loaded it up with unique Sonic accessories including Ground Control Suspension System, Rotiform wheels, Falken Azenis RT615-K tires, an iPad sound station and Baer brakes. Carbon fiber and aluminum exterior trim elements accent its Root Beer exterior which was painted by TNT Autobody while its interior was redone by Seatworks using Euro Leather Inc. leather.
HAT TRICK KIA FORTE
Antenna magazine's hockey-hatch Forte 5-door features aviator gray exterior paint with 18-inch blue Volk TE37s, custom body kit and front bumper from the Koup with carbon-fiber accents and LED lights, quad-tipped exhaust, carbon roof, and lowered ride height. It also boasts a custom hockey stick holder that stretches from the trunk through the center of the vehicle into the cabin, a rear bench seat that's been converted to two bucket seats with custom black upholstery and powder-blue jersey material on the seats, rubberized flooring in the front and rear seating areas to simulate the floor outside a skating rink, custom sports-drink holders, and two seven-inch monitors mounted in the front seat headrests wired to a Sony PS3 console and EA Sports NHL12.
The hatch area features a mini air-hockey table on arms that slide out for game play, four carbon hockey sticks color-matched to the exterior of the car, two hanging jerseys color-matched to the exterior, an ice skate rack and glove hooks, as well as custom accent lighting.
HOONIGAN PORSCHE 911
Sitting in the Mobil 1 booth to commemorate the launch of the Hoonigan brand, the wide-body 964 - also created by RWB in Japan - officially made it a trend at SEMA to take your old 911 and completely pimp it out. The turbo machine combines a white exterior paint with a Lobster Red interior and red 18-inch fifteen52 3GS Tarmac Split wheels wearing Pirelli P Zero tires. In addition, the car's ride was lowered by an inch and a half thanks to KW Variant 3 coil-overs and HLS system.
ID AGENCY FORD FOCUS
The firm that reps Formula DRIFT, Pirelli, and others worked up one of the new compact hatchbacks with input from professional fixed-gear bike rider Michael Chacon. Inspired by European and Japanese tuning styles, this Focus wears a body kit imagined by designer Jon Sibal, BASF paint, and a Wraptivo carbon wrapped roof; performance upgrades to go along with the styling include an AEM cold-air intake, Magnaflow cat-back exhaust, and Brembo big brake kit. Outside, the look is completed with a Ford Licensed Accessory Thule bike rack with Custom Leader bike, and the inside is marked by custom Recaro Sportster seats and a Top Stitch interior.
INJEN PORSCHE 911 CARRERA 4S
Yup, another 911, but this one was completely different than the rest, and largely overlooked considering how over-the-top it is. We dug the VIP interpretation of the RHD convertible, though, finished in a stunning white inside and out and rocking two different sets of VIP Modular Wheels, VR06s in front and VX210s in the rear - pimp.
M2-MOTORING FORD FIESTA
Michael Ma's purple B-segment car makes our list, a combination of some simple, straightforward mods that amount to a pretty cool little hatch. Under the hood, improvements include an Injen cold-air intake system and DC Sports cat-back exhaust, and the chassis is upgraded with a Wilwood big brake kit and Megan Racing coil-over suspension. Outside, the Fiesta flosses a candy purple finish by Status Motorsports, Rotiform Nue one-piece cast rims, 3dCarbon body kit and upper roof spoiler; interior treatments come in an upgraded Jensen Mobile Audio Power sound system and Audiovox flip-down touch-screen monitors.
MAZDA MX-5 SPYDER
The MX-5 Spyder is a re-imagination of the roadster and features a sweeping, single-panel grenadine-red soft-top made by Haartz Corporation. It's been painted Stratosphere White and features a Yokohama rubber-and-rims set of AO48 225/45R17 performance tires matched with 17-inch, 10-spoke ADVAN RS wheels in Gun Metal Metallic.
The car runs on isobutanol, and another fuel-saving, engine-efficient feature of the MX-5 Spyder is a lightweight lithium-ion Braille racing battery; a Racing Beat header, intake and exhaust muffler as well as a MAZDASPEED coil over kit and Brembo brakes complete the vehicle's mechanics. The cabin area is accentuated by tanned Saddle black-leather seats with Aqua leather accents and Coal Ash suede inserts. Subtle Spider Silk Gray Metallic-colored trim pieces on the doors and dash panels adorn the mostly black interior, which is finished off with customized floor mats by Star West. A MAZDASPEED short-throw shifter adds a reminder to the MX-5's motorsports pedigree.
RETRO SURF KIA RIO
Antenna mag enhanced the Rio 5-door's exterior with a sunset-metallic golden-brown paint, custom body kit with a front splitter made of wood to match the surfboard on the roof, and rear fascia with center-mount exhaust. The car has been modified with a lowered stance and 17-inch Rotiform three-piece gold wheels. To top off the exterior, a Thule roof rack and hand-made wood surfboard are mounted on top.
The interior features custom front and rear seats, dash and door panels upholstered in brown and beige plaid waterproof bathing suit fabric, a wood grain center console, and headliner upholstered in dark brown suede with a towel holder built in. The rear center console has been modified as a shelf to hold beach-themed accessories, including sun tan lotion, surfboard wax and bottled water. The Rio 5-door's rear hatch area has been modified to hold a retro gaming console that plays ‘80s-style arcade games, a retro-looking record player to play music, mood lighting, and shelves to hold sandals and clothing.
SCION iQ RX
Visual artist Jon Sibal won this year's Scion Tuner Challenge with this entry, an iQ that employs Veilside Premier4509 iQR vented hood and side skirts and modified front and rear bumpers and forward fenders from the same kit. The micro is outfitted with a ROADWIRE custom sunroof and smoked frosted head- and taillights, and cast in a hue of matte metallic gray with bronze pearl paint and matte black trim by MVDesignz. The 18x7.5-inch, three-piece, stepped-lip, hidden hardware design, forged HRE WHEELS 567C rims are each finished in brush aluminum barrels and textured matte black centers and come with 205/40/18 Toyo Proxes 4s and MUTEKI anodized red lug nuts. Behind the front wheels sit StopTech 328x28mm, cross-drilled, directional, two-piece, floating aero rotors and huge red powder-coated four-piston calipers attached to custom "T-Money" 5Axis caliper brackets by MVDesignz and loaded with POSI QUIET ceramic pads.
MVDesignz came up with the black front seats with red stitching and custom Apple iPad 2 enclosure in the dash, and bits like the two custom installed Air Runner Systems air pressure gauges and four-way independent control kit and pair of 2.5-pound Nitrous Express bottles betray other stuff that's going on in the car, but you'll remember this cabin for what's in its tiny hatch, namely a motorized 32-inch Samsung LED 3DTV. The Nitrous Express mini-tanks plug into a setup made up of Nitrous Express universal fly-by-wire single nozzle system, purge system with D-4 manifold, and dual vent purge line kit. The Air Runner Systems components are part of an arrangement that consists of ARS front bellowed struts (with KYB 4-Dial), rear bellowed bags, rear short stroke dampers, four-gallon "Pancake" tank, remote control kit and VIAIR 380C chrome compressor.
SCION iQ MR
Tatsunori Tsuchida and his Tokyo Automotive in Placentia, Calif. played lead in a project that really involved three other main players, Mavrick Motorsports and Specialty Cars in Fullerton and H-Exceed in Anaheim. Probably the most ambitious of the Scion Tuner Challengers, the team reconfigured the micro-subcompact from FF to a mid-rear, sourcing an xB motor and rebuilding it with JE Pistons 12:1-compression slugs, 292 duration stock lift Web Cam Shafts, and APR head studs, nuts, and washers. Metro Fluid provided the connections and stainless steel hoses, Burns Stainless the pipes in the header, and Micro Image one of its clutch kits and lightened flywheels. Tunability is controlled via AEM engine management.
The flipped-layout iQ runs on KW Suspension's Variant 3 coil-overs and 15-inch Axis Sakura wheels shod in Falken RT615 205/50/15s. The brakes were upgraded all around, with Fastbrakes' four-pot calipers front and rear and a Wilwood pedal box under the dash pushing Motul fluid. Like Evasive, this team went for a spare racer's interior, supplanting the stock cabin with Specialty Cars interior paneling and Sparco seat with five-point race harness, steering wheel and window net. Specialty Cars also did the brushed exterior paneling, while G1 Design Graphics provided the vinyl.
TJIN EDITION HONDA CIVIC Si SEDAN
No best-of-SEMA list would be complete without at least one Tjin Edition vehicle, and this year two made our list. Its Si sedan project is designed as a sweet-looking family hauler, the interior customized in a black leather finish with purple diamond stitch, a full audio system and a pair of Recaro kids seats. The exterior has been completely redone by the team at Daley Visual and Wraptivo, sporting a custom wrap and carbon front grille, roof, wing, and rear diffuser. The running gear on this Civic is like none other, either - one-off 19x8.5-inch forward and 19x9.5-inch aft candy orange and candy purple concave Rotiform BLQ wheels, with body-hugging stance courtesy of Function and Form.
TJIN EDITION CHEVROLET SONIC
Tjin Edition, Unique Fabrication and LR Autobody partnered with GM to also build a motorsports-themed Sonic for SEMA. Tjin designed this one-of-a-kind sedan, LR Autobody was responsible for the paint work, and Unique Fabrication handled the fabrication of the custom roll cage and the overall build. The Tjin Edition Sonic features tons of carbon fiber goodies by DownForce, Forgestar wheels, Falken Tires, Pedders suspension, Baer brakes, a MagnaFlow exhaust, Vibrant Performance/Unique Fabrication intercooler kit, GlowShift gauges, and custom Light WurkZ LED headlights.