8-Luggers of the SEMA 2016 Show
The Ultimate Industry Gathering Turns 50
This report may seem somewhat biased, but in our opinion HD trucks hands-down dominated the 2016 SEMA show. The upper and lower South Halls and the outdoor areas (think Kelderman, Fusion Bumpers, American Force Wheels, and Specialty Forged Wheels, for example) were particularly dominated by lifted HD trucks. It made our job both easy and hard—easy because there was no shortage of eye candy to photograph, and hard because we didn't want to miss any. It was almost mind-blowing to see so many cover-worthy eight-luggers in one spot; our cameras almost exploded! Standard to the SEMA show, you become desensitized rather quickly to the grandeur of yet another sky-high HD with a fully powdercoated aftermarket suspension and five-figures in wheels and tires. It's quite a tantalizing showing of these awesome but often misunderstood trucks. Even within the automotive world, some can't understand why you'd want to chrome and powdercoat every piece of a truck's undercarriage and put on big wheels with low-profile tires. For us who get it, it was impossible to fully appreciate the “SEMA crunch” build journey and potentially hundreds of hours that brought each truck to SEMA.
But wait, there’s more—much more to the SEMA show than its custom truck and car show aspect we’ve all come to love. The four-day event was packed full of experiences, educational workshops, contests, exhibitor product demos, industry celebrity appearances, broadcasts, parties, and more prospects than one could ever fully take advantage of. Some of these opportunities included the Continental Tire Experience, Toyo Tire Treadpass, West Coast Customs Experience, Optima Street Car Alley, Shell Display of Cars, “Ford Out Front” drifting demonstrations, “GM Proving Grounds” hot lap ride-alongs, and last but not least, the SEMA Cruise and SEMA Ignited after party. For those looking to get nerdy, there were more than 50 free business-building seminars.
Since everybody loves awards, you better believe the SEMA show acknowledges industry progress. The 2016 SEMA Award Winner for the Hottest Truck was again presented to the Ford F-Series. The New Products Showcase is a huge part of the show, where companies can show off their latest and greatest offerings. The 2017 New Product Award winners included: Any Level Lift (Engineered New Product); FX Products’ TrailFX 3.5-inch Bull Bar with Double-Row LED Lightbar (Exterior Accessory Product); Iron Cross Automotive’s Iron Cross Step (Off-Road/4-Wheel Drive Product); Truck Hero: Extang, TruXedo, BedRug, UnderCover, Advantage, Retrax, BAK Industries, A.R.E. - BedTred Ultra (Van/Pickup/Sport-Utility Product). No HD trucks made the third SEMA Battle of the Builders Top 21 cut, but a few Chevy Colorados and a ’17 Ford Raptor did.
Although the SEMA automotive festival has morphed into a 1,500-vehicle car and truck show scattered around tire-burning demonstrations and Trophy Trucks freshly crusted from desert racing qualifying, at its core, it is a business trade show that is closed to the general public. SEMA, which stands for Specialty Equipment Market Association, might be the world’s most epic “business” show, but nonetheless, the point is to connect the industry so business can be done and money can be made. To get into the halls, it takes media, manufacturer, buyer, or exhibitor credentials.
Now celebrating its 50th year, the show that started in the basement of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in 1967 with 98 manufacturers and 3,000 people has certainly grown beyond what anyone could have imagined at the time. Since its move to the Las Vegas Convention Center in 1977, it has expanded at a rate only Las Vegas could accommodate. By net square feet, the 2015 SEMA show ranked #5 (after CES, two home furnishing shows, and The Demo Expo) according to the Trade Show News Network.
Now that’s a pretty massive automotive party!
By the NumbersNew Products Showcase: 3,000 new products in 16 categories
Rides on Display: 1,500
Exhibiting Companies: 2,400
Domestic and International Buyers: 60,000
Net Square Feet: 1,181,000 (2015)
Attendees: 159,700 (2015)
There’s big, and then there’s ginormous. You could stand fully upright under this red Ford Super Duty, which had to be arguably the biggest truck at the show. For the sake of perspective, it dwarfed the lifted truck in front of it.
This Ford F-350 dualie named Project Long Haul sported a Kelderman setup and an ArcticFX Graphics wrap and looked spot-on towing a matching fifth-wheel trailer.
ShowTime Metal Works never fails to go big at SEMA! The Texas-based company built and displayed this beautiful silver Ford Super Duty to debut its STMW-HD front bumper.
2017 Super Duty
Think the factory Ford booth was boring? Nope. Ford knows what’s up in the aftermarket industry. On display was a ’17 Super Duty built by Mad Industries on 28-inch Fuel Off-Road forged wheels.
There was no shortage of customized ’17 Super Duty trucks in the American Force Wheels outdoor booth.
You better believe Kelderman was on its game, with a variety of air suspension, bumper, and grille offerings for the brand-new Super Duty.
Jaw-dropping love at first sight. Precision Metal Fab showed off this ’17 Ford F-350 Super Duty built by Auto Truck Service, equipped with PMF’s newest 16-to-18-inch lift. By the way, it was also a Mothers Choice Award Top 10 recipient.
Bet you didn’t even notice this Chevy has an extra set of doors!
There’s nothing wrong with having some fun with the air-ride—we’re talking 20 inches of adjustability to show off the Prismatic Powders Illusion Purple powdercoating. The caddywhompus stance of Southwest Ohio’s All Hustle Motorsports full frame-off ’16 GMC Denali 2500HD build drew attention all week.
Krazy Kustomz hit the South Hall hard this year with a pair of pristine trucks and a few badass chairs for some proper mid-show relaxing.
You just don’t see too many single cab trucks on the show circuit, making this Cummins-equipped Ram truck stand out from the herd of four-door rides. We dig it!
The Specialty Forged Wheels booth was packed full of delectable truck specimen. The simple silver of this Ram’s exterior only highlights its intricately detailed blue belly.
Every nut and bolt was replaced, and everything that could be painted or powdercoated was treated accordingly. With the help of New York City’s Richie’s Truck & Auto, Joe Gaynor’s ’13 Ram 2500 was worked over and perfected in the five weeks leading up to the show. Talk about SEMA crunch!
While we clamor over the lifted trucks, we’re definitely still suckers for the slammed beasts.
Amidst a sea of wrapped trucks, we always stop to appreciate painted trucks.
This slammed ’63 Chevy C10 looks absolutely amazing on 22-inch American Racing A0403 ATX Series Roulette wheels.
The undercarriage proved to be the perfect canvas for creativity and detail. Most of the HD trucks had spotless combinations of powdercoating, chrome, polish, and other undercarriage modifications.