Truck Trend Staff Editor Evans’ Top 15 Trucks at SEMA 2016 - #TENSEMA16
The Truck Trend team picks its favorite vehicles from the 2016 SEMA Show
Being a truck enthusiast at the 2016 SEMA Show is a little like being the proverbial kid in a candy store (except licking stuff here is pretty frowned upon). There are just so many different flavors of trucks, SUVs, and Jeeps here, and like a candy store, most of the variety is good. While there were a few lemons on the show floor, this editor had no trouble picking out 15 favorite trucks; in fact, the hard part was whittling the wish list down to just 15! So without further ado, here are the trucks that Staff Editor Brett T. Evans wishes he had in his driveway. Check out Editor Jason Gonderman's list here.
One of the most unique vehicles at the 2016 SEMA Show was this wild 1948 Willys pickup, customized to pay homage to the Wild West. Of note, the gear lever is actuated by a revolver, with the twin-stick transfer case controlled by six-gun chambers. Furthermore, the bed rails are actually machine gun cylinders, and the whole truck is covered in custom hand-engraved scrolling, including on the Cummins I-6’s Turbonetics turbocharger. This editor’s favorite tidbit is the old-fashioned skeleton key used to start the truck.
Eibach brought out a 2016 Toyota Tacoma customized with off-road coilovers, PIAA lighting, and a burly sport bed rack. That last feature no doubt aids with loading the matching pair of motocross bikes the booth had on display. This ‘Yota would be a fun way to venture off the beaten path.
This “what-if” machine postulates on what Edsel Ford would have built if he’d been in control of the company in the 1930s. The 1932 pickup has a number of hot-rod touches, including a new-old-stock 1956 Mercury V-8 engine that was found in its original wood crate in Ontario. The grille shell was handmade, and the dashboard from a 1932 Chris Craft speedboat is grafted in with the stock dash.
This flatfender Willys Jeep is in beautiful, aged condition, with solid panels all around and evidence of some pretty fun off-road adventures on the hood and bumpers. The best detail is the reassuring sticker affixed to the steel dash above the ignition switch. Every off-roader should be reminded that, yes, everything is going to be okay.
Turning 180 degrees from the weathered Jeep above is Acura’s funky MDX concept, inspired by the NSX GT3 racing car it tows on a custom trailer. The racing livery looks great on the new MDX, and silver over white is a frosty, handsome color combo. The nearly–2-inch suspension drop is a prototype part, as are the GT3-orange brake calipers and front splitter, so replicating this NSX-inspired luxo-ute might be tough. Then again, the 20-inch wheels are genuine Acura accessories, so buyers can replicate part of the concept on their own MDXs.
With 1949 styling and 1998 engineering, the Willys Wagon from Max-Bilt could be many people’s ideal Jeep vehicle. It has the XJ Cherokee’s 4.0L engine and AW4 automatic transmission, plus a Chrysler 8.25 rear axle and Dana 30 front axle. Mechanically, it would make for a simple, capable daily driver. Inside, a custom interior features period-correct finishes, like waxed canvas upholstery and a burlap headliner, but Vintage Air climate control and cruise control give it a few modern amenities.
Evans used to be a pest control technician, and he'd have liked that gig a lot more if his spray truck was this, a 1963 Datsun “1200” that’s been converted to run on electric. Built in collaboration between Local Motors and Babbit Motor Werks, the Datsun has a sizable array of batteries in the bed powering an electric motor mounted on the rear axle. But even before Evans realized this was an electrified custom, he liked its patinated styling and authentic-looking business logos.
We wish we knew more about this wacko custom Ford. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Bronco SUV, it features the cab of a sixth-generation F-Series and the open rear section of a Bronc in a Centurion-style mashup of configurations. The waist-high tire setup and monster-truck–grade suspension give this wild horse a commanding presence, even against such an outlandish backdrop as SEMA.
Sure it’s pink, but it’s pink for a very good reason. Built by our friends at Bestop, this 2012 Jeep Wrangler encourages people to buy a $3 raffle ticket for the chance to win a Bestop Project Pink custom-embroidered soft top. What’s more, all the proceeds from the raffle will go to the American Cancer Society, and Bestop will match the donation up to $10,000. Bestop Project Pink helps raise awareness for breast cancer, and we have to admit, the pink mud graphics do look pretty cool.
Called the Nomad, this on/off-road fun machine was designed by English firm Ariel, the same company behind the mental Atom race car/alien spaceship. Its 2.4L I-4 only makes 230 hp and 220 lb-ft, but since the Nomad only weighs about 1,600 pounds, it leaps from 0-60 in less than 4 seconds, and all-terrain tires and a limited-slip rear differential ensure it’ll keep going even when the pavement turns to sand. With nearly 10 inches of suspension travel, it might be more at home at a motocross track than the pavement.
Editor Jason Gonderman questioned why seemingly every other vehicle had tracks at this year’s SEMA Show, and Evans’ response is, “Because everything is better with tracks.” Case in point is Project Snowhawk, a Jeep Cherokee XJ built by JcrOffroad. American Track Truck Dominator treads replace the XJ’s meats, while a BDS Suspension 4.5-inch long-arm lift kit provides plenty of clearance to get around in deep snow. A 4.7L stroker I-6 built by Titan Engines should be torquey enough for just about any obstacle.
Diamond Eye Performance brought these two trucks to SEMA 2016 (Evans is going to count them as one since they’re playing piggyback). The black truck is a 1948 Ford F5 COE hauler with a Cummins 5.9L 12-valve I-6 that routes 550 hp and 1,100 lb-ft through an Allison transmission to a GM 14-bolt dual-wheel rear axle. Sitting on the COE’s custom hauler bed is the Demon Smurf, a 1965 Chevrolet C10 with a twin-turbo Duramax engine of unknown displacement. Hoosier racing tires look appropriate on the vintage hauler, and the blue-and-white color scheme matches its retro moniker.
Omix-ADA never disappoints at SEMA. This year, the company brought out six vintage Jeeps from its 36-strong collection, and Evans’ favorite was the 1966 Wagoneer towing a 1964 Fireball camp trailer. A recent repaint in its original Glacier White suits the classic Wagoneer perfectly, and although this one is woodgrain-free, it’s still a great-looking luxury SUV. With only 17,000 miles, the 327-c.i. “Vigilante” V-8 is just broken in.
The “Bullnose” F-Series isn’t a common choice for sport-truck builds, and that’s why we liked this one so much. Well, that, and the fact that it’s powered by a 2008 Crown Victoria P71 Interceptor drivetrain. Since it was shown at the TMI Automotive Interiors booth, you’d expect it to have a fantastic interior, and you’d be right. Low-back buckets upholstered in brown leather and tan suede look (and smell) undeniably rich.
The upcoming 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor was a popular show truck at any booth that was lucky enough to display it. Even the Traxxas booth had one on hand, a little radio-controlled version that looks like it might be almost as fun as a real one. The line to see this little R/C extended well outside Traxxas’ booth boundaries—or maybe it was for an autographed poster of the woman seated next to the mini-Raptor.