For 50 years the annual SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show has brought the prime players in the automotive aftermarket industry together in Las Vegas, USA, to display their wares and talents to buyers from around the world.
Over that past half century the SEMA Show has grown in to one of the largest automotive gatherings anywhere in the world. Think of the biggest car show you know of in Australia and multiply it tenfold and you have some idea of the scope of the event. Just the 4x4 and off-road hall is as big as Australia’s largest indoor show.
SEMA attracts companies from every end of the auto spectrum; from off-road to sports cars, drifting to drag racing, LED lights to body shops, classic to customs, and street rods to monster trucks. If you can think of a trend in auto styling or performance then it will be represented at the SEMA Show.
With close to 2500 exhibiting companies, 60,000 international buyers in attendance, and in excess of 150,000 people treading the boards over the four-day event, this show is massive.
4x4 and off-road has always been a part of SEMA, but it has been the boom segment in recent years and it seems to get bigger every year in line with the market trend towards go-anywhere vehicles. Each year you will usually see a new and exciting 4x4 that the exhibitors flock to in order to display their products, but since its launch almost 10 years ago Jeep’s JK Wrangler has been the show truck of choice.
You see Jeeps of all models and in all states of modification at SEMA, from restored WWII classics to wild full-custom rock monsters and global expedition rigs. There isn’t a single part of a modern Jeep that hasn’t been reproduced, reinvented, improved upon, strengthened and made better by the aftermarket industry.
Other 4x4 vehicles popular in 2016 included the Toyota Tacoma and 2017 Ford Super Duty-Trucks, and they were scattered around the show on various booths and stands with all kinds of mods and styles. The pick-up trucks usually cop the pre-runner style of the Baja contenders.
Speaking of Baja, the 1000 had a display of its own out in the front carpark, with Trophy Trucks from all the big-name racers on display and smoking tyres in the drift arena at select times throughout the week. The gruelling 1000-mile off-road Baja race is held in Mexico just two weeks after the SEMA show.
Australia is well-represented at the SEMA Show, both in the booths and among the crowds. In fact, you couldn’t turn around in any of the halls without hearing that familiar Aussie accent. The big 4x4 accessories brands – ARB and TJM – had major displays, while the likes of Redarc and Lightforce were well represented.
Both ARB and TJM displayed lines of new product for the Toyota Tacoma on neatly set-up rigs, indicating the strength of those brands in the USA and the expected growth of the latest Toyota pick-up there. It was also nice to see images from the recent Off Road Icons trip (see page 120) on the ARB USA booth; the Americans on that trip were still raving about the epic adventure.
The SEMA Show is held during the first week of November each year at the Las Vegas Convention Centre, and the 2017 show starts on October 31. It’s an industry-only event with no public access until the final evening, when all the wild and whacky cars from the event cruise out of the convention centre and across the road to a massive carpark where there is mega car show with a party atmosphere. With live music, drifting and all the top vehicles on display, this night is a highlight of the show. Worth sticking around for, even when your feet are screaming at you to sit down and put them up.