We spent four days wandering the 3.2-million-square-foot convention center at the most recent Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thousands of people head to SEMA every year in search of the latest must-have toys and automotive fads. Feeling like kids in a candy store, we saw more new products and custom trucks than ever. Here are our top 25 favorite head-turning vehicles from the show. -- Melissa Spiering
Jeep Wrangler Sand Trooper
Featuring Hemi power in the form of a 5.7-liter V-8 with 375 hp and 410 lb-ft, the Sand Trooper wears Mopar portal axles suspended by Fox Shox for added ground clearance, 42-inch off-road tires, and beadlock wheels painted matte black. The Sand Trooper is protected by a full-length underbody skidplate and has a Warn winch, LED off-road lights, rock rails, and a hitch receiver. On the inside, the Sand Trooper sports a rearview camera, prototype Mopar CB radio, all-weather slush mats, and Mopar Add-a-Trunk and trailside winch kit.
1978 Jeep CJ-7 Expedicion de las Americas by OMIX-ADA
At first glance, this 1978 CJ-7 may not look like much, but the vehicle has a history and pedigree unmatched by almost any other 4x4 in history. This humble Jeep was driven by Jeep legend Mark Smith on the 1978 Expedicion de las Americas, in which six off-road enthusiasts drove from the southernmost tip of South America to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska -- a 21,000 mile-journey that covered some of the most challenging terrain in the world. The Jeep is mostly as it was more than 30 years ago when it made that epic journey, with only the addition of some storage racks for ladders and jerry cans.
With diesel pros Banks Power, ICON has created a one-off Dodge D200 truck dubbed the Icon D200. Based on the 1965 Dodge D200 crew cab pickup, the truck may look old, but everything underneath that vintage skin is new. A modern Dodge 3500 chassis sits on a 4.5-inch Baja 1000 Chase lift kit equipped with Fox shocks. A tweaked 5.9-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline-six provides power, packing a whopping 975 lb-ft of torque. Other upgrades include a Banks Brake exhaust system, Six-Gun Diesel Tuner, Monster Ram intake manifold, and Banks Monster Diesel dual exhaust.
No, it's not from the TV show, although it looks like it could've driven off the set of one of the "Mad Max" movies or some other post-apocalyptic thriller. The Survivor Truck appears to be based on a mid-'70s to early '80s Chevrolet C50 truck, and is built for the worst-case scenario. It features a multi-fuel engine (fuels not specified), a nuclear/biological/chemical filter, on-board water purification and storage, a solar power generator, medical and first aid supplies, 360-degree thermal imaging, a sniper platform, and a full on-board communications network.
Legacy Power Wagon
If you're a fan of the styling of classic trucks but like modern conveniences, Legacy Power Wagon has the truck for you. It's available in the original four-door body style, extended cab, and a custom four-door crew cab, and buyers also get their choice of a 426 Hemi V-8 or a Cummins 3.9-liter four-cylinder diesel. All Legacy Power Wagons come with air conditioning, three-point seatbelts, four-wheel disc brakes, and power steering. But be prepared to pay: Two-door models start at $119,950, and four-doors start at $169,950.
Pro Bass Anglers Ultimate Fishing Tundra
Toyota teamed with Bassmaster Elite Series pro angler Britt Myers on the Ultimate Fishing Tundra. This truck has a bed that's essentially a portable fishing shop, stocked full of tackle including reels, rods, and a refrigerator. Most mods were performed by the folks at CS Motorsports, a company owned by Myers. The team also customized the interior with rear bucket seats, video monitors, and a Navionics lake-mapping system. Other tweaks include a 12-inch suspension lift, bigger tires, and a TRD supercharger and exhaust system.
One Lap Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
The list of custom equipment on this Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is short but significant, as it could foreshadow some future accessory offerings from Mopar. This particular example is outfitted with Viper front seats and racing harnesses, which probably won't be factory options, but for those who are determined to romp the 5000-plus-pound SUV around a track, the One Lap SRT8 features a Sport Bar (not quite a full rollbar) a prototype lowering kit, lightweight wheels, and rear spoiler.
Galpin Auto Sports 1966 Ford Bronco
The Galpin Auto Sports 1966 Ford Bronco is one of our favorite trucks of this year's show. It stands out from the crowd thanks to its baby blue and orange Gulf livery paint scheme with custom Cobra racing seats, and its fully built suspension is ready to tackle the toughest of terrains. The GAS Bronco gets a 6.2-liter stroker V-8 churning out 540 hp, a Ford four-speed automatic, beefy Dana axles, and beadlock wheels. It's a truly stunning Bronco.
Bigfoot Electric Monster Truck
The world's first all-electric Bigfoot monster truck made its big debut at the show. The No. 20 Monster Truck was built in conjunction with EnerSys, a sponsor of the 2012 Bigfoot team. The eBigfoot monster truck's high-power electric motor gets its juice from 30 Odyssey batteries delivering a total of 360 volts. Six additional Odyssey batteries power the brake and steering. The truck includes an on-board battery charger and a variable-speed programmable speed controller.
Landy Changhe Suzuki
What's weirder than a Chinese knockoff of a Japanese knockoff of a German car? That's the Landy Changhe Suzuki in a nutshell. Its two-tone Volkswagen Bus-inspired MiniBus Body Kit might have you scratching your head. Though popular in China, these compact street-vending-type vehicles are very flexible for just about any business need or whimsical fantasy. Case in point: two-tone pink paint with heart-shaped wheels and heart-shaped steering wheel. Awww.
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle
"Wait a minute," you're probably asking. "What's a Chevelle doing on a Truck Trend list?" That's a good question. But a closer look at this unusual project reveals the musclecar body is actually sitting on a Chevrolet 1/4-ton truck chassis. The Franken-Velle is powered by a 454 big-block V-8 mated to Turbo 400 transmission and breathing through a Flowmaster exhaust. Power gets to the ground through a Dana 44 front and GM 14-bolt rear axle and 4.11 gears. KC HiLites provides ample exterior illumination through its KC Bones 4-inch
Ram 1500 Power Ram
Looking like it just drove out of a toy package, the Power Ram showcases Mopar's 3-inch lift kit, bed step, tri-fold tonneau cover, and bright pedal kit. Its 5.7-liter Hemi showcases a Mopar cold-air intake matched with a Mopar cat-back exhaust. Other goodies on this visually loud tri-color concept include Mickey Thompson tires on 17-inch Hutchinson beadlock wheels, a Warn front winch, and neoprene seat covers.
1949 Chevrolet Pickup by Chip Foose
There are few names in the custom world better known than Chip Foose, so it was natural that Magnaflow would choose the master of style to build a show truck. This beauty's top-notch hardware includes a GM LS3 E-Rod engine, Art Carr tranny, Currie differential, Wilwood brakes, MHT/Foose Wheels, and Pirelli tires. The interior features Auto Meter prestige gauges, an Ididit tilt steering column, Lokar billet accessories, a Retro Sound head unit with Memphis Audio speakers, and Romero Fabrics custom upholstery.
2012 Jeep Wrangler JK-EXT
If you like the idea of the JK-8 concept, but still need to haul your family and friends more often than your cargo, then the JK-EXT from Michigan Vehicle Solutions might be what you want. Built from a 2012 Wrangler Unlimited, the JK-EXT stretches the Unlimited to incorporate a small 40x43-inch bed. Ensuring that this Jeep can haul more than just a payload is a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8. If you're interested in a similar configuration for your own JK Wrangler Unlimited, conversions are available from MVS starting at $12,500.
Wild Diesel Sled Pull Truck
Like the NASCAR cars that bear the names Camry, Impala, Fusion, and other mass-market names, this truck is a 2010 Ram in body shell only. Virtually every other piece is custom-made and fine-tuned to do one thing well--sled pulls. Its diesel engine puts out an estimated 2000-plus hp, and probably double that amount of torque. Despite its size, the Wild Diesel sled pull truck has room for just the driver.
Toyota "Dragquoia" Sequoia
When the Toyota Racing Dream Build Challenge was initially announced, many were puzzled by NHRA drag racer Antron Brown's choice of the Sequoia full-size SUV. Featuring a supercharged 5.7-liter V-8 with a nitrous injection producing around 700 hp, this Sequoia has been radically lightened, with polycarbonate plastic side and rear windows, a drag-style functional hood scoop, a custom rollcage, tail-mounted parachute, and old-school "zoomies" headers. It has four individual racing seats with five-point racing harnesses and a child-size seat with harness so the whole family can ride.
Two-Headed Jeep Wrangler
Sister publication 4-Wheel & Off-Road originally wanted to produce a Wrangler with four-wheel steering, and decided to take it a step further by making it a two-headed Jeep. They tore the rear end out of a new 2012 Jeep Wrangler and replaced it with the front end of a Wrangler JK. The gutted engine bay now acts as storage for the 40-inch spare tire and other gear. There's a 4-inch suspension lift kit, a Warn winch, Genright fenders, and beefier bumpers and skidplates. The Jeep was trail-tested and performed admirably, maneuvering with greater ease than with conventional two-wheel steering.
XPCamper worked with UJOR to create the V4 flatbed overland expedition vehicle. Based on a Ford E-Series chassis, this van is powered by a 7.3-liter turbodiesel and has four-wheel drive (as every overlander should). The UJOR V4 is based on a 2002 E-350, and has a 6-inch lift, 37-inch tires, and cool features like winches, 90-gallon fuel capacity, and an on-board air and welder.
Ford F-350 Matchbox Brush Truck by Superlift
This recreation of the Matchbox Brush Truck boasts a 10-inch four-link Superlift lift system, a modified Fab Fours front bumper, a Fig Designs rear bumper, Interco Iroc 41-inch tires on BMF 20-inch wheels, a custom PPG paint job, KC Hi-Lites high beams and spotlights, and Code 3 Emergency lights and siren. The Katzkin interior includes a Tuffy Products center console and Ford accessory floormats.
Suzuki Carry by Local Motors
Local Motors, maker of the really cool Rally Fighter, also showed this ready-for-battle Suzuki Carry. If you've ever visited a resort or a college campus and noticed those little flatbed maintenance trucks, you get the picture. This tough-looking specimen features a 4500-lb winch, a sheetmetal bumper with tube guard, a custom-fabricated light bar, an on-board air compressor, and like the Subaru Brat from the 1980s, two seats (front-facing here) with seatbelts. This Carry showcases Local Motors' Community Vehicles initiative, and was built by fabricator and Local Motors Community member Tony Ashwill.
Urban Ram Concept
The Urban Ram concept starts as a 2013 Ram 1500, and its 392 Hemi V-8 produces 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Highlights are Mopar headers, cold-air intake, dual exhaust with chrome tips, a Mopar handling kit, and SRT brake calipers. Styling and accessory upgrades include 22-inch Hyperblack wheels, a color-matched fiberglass tonneau, BedRug, ambient lighting kit, and Mopar badging, and a signature Mopar Blue double paint stripe down the left side of the truck.
1951 Dodge B-3-B
Mopar displayed this 1951 Dodge B-3-B built by Rich Gengo. The clean restomod, which still has the original cab, features a Mopar 400 crate V-8; Edelbrock cam, manifold, and carburetor; Hot Rod Air air conditioning; power windows; a Flaming River tilt steering column; Centerline wheels; and Dolphin gauges.
TRD-Tuned FJ Cruiser Concept
The FJ Cruiser is already one of Toyota's most capable off-roaders, but this SEMA special gets a number of modifications inspired by the Baja Series Tacoma. The most significant upgrade is an underbody "exoskeleton" that increases body rigidity to allow for more intense off-roading excursions. Suspension mods include Bilstein race shocks and 17-inch TRD beadlock-style wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich All-Terrains. Performance gains come courtesy of a TRD supercharger, air-to-water intercooler, and cat-back exhaust. The mods help boost the 4.0-liter V-6 to 345 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque, 30 and 25 percent gains over stock, respectively. Could this TRD-tuned FJ Cruiser lead to a cool, low-volume special-edition model?
VWerks 6.4 Hemi V-8 Conversion Program
The added power and refinement that came from the 2012 Jeep Wrangler's new Pentastar V-6 is a big improvement over last year's 3.8-liter engine. Nevertheless, hard-core Wrangler enthusiasts have been pleading for years for a V-8 option as well. Thanks to VWerks, they now have one, with a 6.4-liter, 465-horsepower Hemi conversion available for Wranglers. The engine package is being showcased in the division's first production model, which is nicknamed Steel-Bender. The newcomer features a JK8 pickup conversion, a 4-inch lift kit, Pro Comp wheels and tires, along with a set of VWerks custom front and rear
1931 Model A Roadster Pickup
This 1931 Model A Pickup may look original, but it's actually a skillful restomod, incorporating such modern features as halogen headlamps, LED taillights, hydraulic brakes, and a modern four-speed automatic tranny. It even has heated seats. It's powered by the original 205-cubic-inch, four-cylinder engine with a high-compression Winfield head and Weber downdraft carburetor, and it puts out 80 hp. Turns out 19-inch wheels aren't a modern invention: This Model A sports original-size 19-inch wire wheels wrapped in Coker Tire Excelsior Radial tires.