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OEM Goodness: The Factory-Sponsored Trucks of SEMA 2017 – #TENSEMA17

SEMA Isn’t Just About the Builders Anymore

Nov 3, 2017
Photographers: Brett T. Evans, Mike Grasso
In the past, SEMA was an aftermarket-only affair, focusing on the kinds of things you could do to a truck after it left the dealer, scrapyard, or classified ads. But as the show grew, so did OEM interest. Today, many automakers get in on the game, using SEMA to sponsor shop builds or show off their own parts and accessories.


As usual, Ford had a massive presence at SEMA 2017, with a huge booth inside the central hall and a second display in what is usually the Las Vegas Convention Center’s front parking lot. And like always, it was chock-full of custom trucks and SUVs. Among our favorites was the 2018 Expedition built by LGE-CTS for overlanding, with extremely subtle underbody protection that preserves the SUV’s clean lines.
Photo 2/57   |   2017 Sema Show 2018 Ford Expedition Baja Forged Adventurer Lge Cts
We also loved the custom shortbed Ford Super Duty “Project SD126” (pictured at top). Starting with a regular-cab truck, SD126 gets chopped with a 6.5-foot bed, giving it a 126-inch wheelbase. Awesome fender flares impart a distinct Raptor vibe, and Ford says it’s a great example of the Super Duty’s potential off-road performance.
Photo 3/57   |   2017 Sema Show 2017 Ford F 250 Super Duty Sd126 Front Fender Flares
Inspired by Vaughn Gittin, Jr.’s “Ultimate Fun Haver,” the Ford F-150 RTR Muscle Truck previews a suite of dealer-installed modifications that will be available on the 2018 F-150. Key among those upgrades are a long-travel coilover suspension, a sinister grille illuminated with LED accents, and an attractive wide stance from the RTR wheels.
Photo 4/57   |   2017 Sema Show 2018 Ford F 150 Rtr Muscle Truck


Chevy surprised us at the 2017 SEMA Show, debuting a wild AEV-optimized concept of the Colorado ZR2. Equipped with the ZR2’s available 2.8L Duramax diesel I-4, the AEV also incorporates long-travel Multimatic DSSV shocks, a 1.5-inch body lift, 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud Terrain tires, lots of auxiliary LED lighting, a bed-mounted ARB refrigerator/freezer, and onboard freshwater and air tanks. It shares some of its design with the ZR2 Race Development Truck (those Saguaro Trail stickers brought back some happy memories).
Photo 5/57   |   2017 Sema Show Chevrolet Colorado Zr2 Aev Concept Front Quarter
Also at the Chevrolet booth is a very cool Luke Bryan–designed Suburban idealized for outdoor activities. The rear-facing third-row seat sits in an open area that’s now separated from the rest of the cabin, making it great for fishing excursions. And the Bow Tie also highlighted its trucks’ 100th anniversary with Centennial Edition versions of the 1967 Chevy C-10 and the 2018 Colorado and Silverado, replete with vintage-look Chevrolet emblems and Centennial Blue paint.
Photo 15/57   |   2017 Sema Show Chevrolet Suburban Luke Bryan Concept Front Quarter
Photo 16/57   |   2017 Sema Show 1967 Chevrolet C 10 Centennial Front Quarter


Mopar paid most of its attention to the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL and its associated lineup of Jeep Performance Parts. But in addition to the 200-plus accessories that will be available for the new Wrangler, Mopar also took the time to announce it would offer the Hellcat engine as a new crate option for hot rodders who want one of the fiercest supercharged V-8s available.
Photo 17/57   |   2017 Sema Show 1937 Dodge Pickup Front Quarter
And although the “Hellcrate” is the halo engine, Mopar also highlighted the rest of its powerplant lineup with a very slick restored 1937 Dodge pickup. Fit with a 345 Crate HEMI Engine Kit, this Dodge sports a factory-parts-delivery exterior wrapped around a totally custom interior, with a gorgeous bighorn ram hood ornament leading the charge.
Photo 18/57   |   2017 Sema Show 1937 Dodge Pickup Hood Ornament
Also found at the Mopar booth were the Jeep Shortcut, CJ-66, and Switchback concepts from Easter Jeep Safari. We still can’t get enough of the Shortcut’s throwback dimensions and plaid interior, and the CJ-66 is pure early-80s retro style too. The Switchback, however, is 21st-century all the way through, with icy-cool paint and cutaway doors.
Photo 22/57   |   2017 Sema Show Jeep Wrangler Switchback
Photo 23/57   |   2017 Sema Show Jeep Wrangler Cj66

Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai

Keen to publicize the popular Camry, most of Toyota’s booth space was occupied by celebrity-designed iterations of the midsize sedan. The company did bring one non-Camry model to the show: the C-HR. Our favorite was obviously the R-Tuned, which sports a 600hp turbocharged I-4 and five-speed manual. We liked it enough to give it some respect when judging the 2017 Gran Turismo Awards.
Photo 27/57   |   2017 Sema Show Gran Turismo Awards 2018 Toyota C Hr R Tuned
Honda’s booth was also a little skimpy on trucks, but we didn’t mind seeing the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck on the floor. Sporting a twin-turbocharged engine that takes its block, heads, and crankshaft from the production Ridgeline, the Honda race truck makes more than 500 hp, perfect for all-out runs across the desert. We wouldn’t kick it out of the garage.
Photo 28/57   |   2017 Sema Show Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck
Hyundai’s booth featured two decidedly different SUVs. The Rockstar Energy Moab Extreme Off-Roader Santa Fe Sport (say that five times fast) features a remarkably un-Hyundai suspension setup: King coilovers with 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks and remote reservoirs. It’s lifted high over 35-inch Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ tires, and Yukon Gear & Axle supplied drivetrain components (Hyundai wouldn’t say which). A Nitrous Express wet-nitrous system seems incongruous with the off-road design, but the Cascadia Vehicle Tents habitat on the roof doesn’t.
Photo 29/57   |   2017 Sema Show Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Off Road Concept
On the other side of the spectrum is the Vaccar Tucson Sport. Fit with a Boostec GTX turbocharger and related components, significant engine enhancements, massive front and rear brakes, and sticky Continental ExtremeContact Sport tires, the Vaccar Tucson Sport would be a really, really fun way to get to the grocery store. It’s also dipped in BASF Blue Metallic, a coat of paint so deep we could swim in it.
Photo 30/57   |   2017 Sema Show Hyundai Tucson Vaccar Concept

Since SEMA is intended to show off what the aftermarket is capable of, we’re glad to see those OEMs tap such talent to build their vehicles. And while few of those show trucks and SUVs will end up in customers’ hands, it’s still fun to dream of what’s possible, and the SEMA Show allows us to do just that.



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