Some have argued 2009 is the year the automotive world changed. Companies like Toyota, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler have had a huge wakeup call this year, but at the enthusiast level, things are surprisingly the business as usual. Guys loved cars and trucks before new-vehicle sales fell off a cliff, and they seem to love them today. Enthusiasts still want the biggest bang for their buck, car guys still love their hobby, and some of the most creative people on the planet go to the SEMA show each year to show off their newest project trucks. Sure, crowds and exhibitor numbers seemed down this year, but automotive inspiration and creativity was everywhere. Here were a few favorites.

1. Recession? What recession. Nothing says "creative truck building" like a custom six-door Monster Limo in the guise of a Chevy Kodiak medium-duty XXL SUV. Kelderman has been making heavy-duty agricultural suspensions since 1970 and heavy-duty truck suspension since 1990, and each year it typically has something special for SEMA. These types of small companies can get big attention from other U.S. shops as well as the media.

2. Here's a little-known fact: Most suspension "lifts" are actually suspension "drops"; the only thing lifted is what sits above the suspension, moving the body from the ground--axle and suspension parts are typically no higher than before. The most common way to get more clearance is with taller tires. That gets you farther from the dangerous rocks and nasty stuff wanting to scrape, crack, or break your vehicle. The Lower Forty concept from Jeep left the stock suspension just as the engineers designed it, but fitted 40-inch-tall tires under the heavily modified fenders. This gives the Lower Forty a supple ride with more than 10 extra inches of ground clearance. Well done.

3. By far one of the most outrageous vehicles on the show floor, this Subaru WRX STi five-door with four separate tank tracks is reported to put out about 400 horsepower. The body was stripped so that several reinforced panels could be welded for added strength. The Mattracks conversion system required the drivetrain be dropped three inches, and the stock transmission was swapped out for a bulletproof KAPS five-speed close-ratio dog-engagement gearbox. Maybe you've seen Ken Block's other gymkhana videos and commercials, but if you haven't, do the search and be impressed. Search it under Ken Block's Trax STi.

4. Reportedly found in the back of an old barn, this '64 D100 isn't much different from the day it was built, as long as you don't count the custom-modified suspension and the fact it now has a big-block 526 Hemi. Still, with the original exterior paint and interior, this D-Series pickup is probably the closest thing to a "real" truck this show has ever seen. We especially like the white sidewall rear slicks and retro five-spoke chromed rims. This is the type of restoration we should put on the cover of Truck Trend Classic.

5. Clearly, this is not the most modified vehicle at SEMA; however, it did give the guys at Ford (Custom Accessories) a chance to stuff the new 6.2-liter V-8 from into an F-150. And it gave a few observant journalists a chance, as well, to see, for the very first time, what the power ratings on the new 6.2-liter engine would be. Slated for the 2011 Super Dutys (with a modified version for the Raptor XT), factory rated power for the new engine is 411 horsepower with 438 pound-feet of torque. No announcement if this FX2 package will become the new Lightning at least we know the 6.2 fit without any problems.