Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter

Rad Rigs - Highlighting the Baddest Diesel Trucks at the 2015 SEMA Show

KJ Jones
Nov 16, 2015
Photographers: Trevor Reed, KJ Jones
There’s a lot that can be and is said about the Specialty Equipment Market Association’s annual car, truck, and parts megashow in Las Vegas, Nevada. Of course, we like to believe all of it is true. For one, the annual SEMA show is certainly one of the world’s largest assemblies of businesses, people, and vehicles that collectively make up the automotive aftermarket. Another truth about SEMA is the weeklong celebration of awesomeness is unfortunately not open to the public.
It’s because of this understandable unfairness (selfishly, we’re glad the show is an “industry-only” affair, as it really has become very crowded over the years) that we’re compelled to provide you with as much information as possible about the magnificent SEMA trucks, cars, and products—and anything else that falls in our wheelhouse (diesel)—on display during the weeklong event.
Another fact about the SEMA show is even though diesel performance is well established and has a solid presence—with products such as new turbochargers, fuel systems, transmissions, and so on being debuted in the various exhibit halls—“appearance” truly rules all when it comes to the diesel- and gas-powered vehicles being displayed. SEMA is where giving a truck a radical look (with hot colors, mega bumpers, winches, bright lights, blindingly shiny wheels, tires, interior upgrades, and super-slammed or sky-high suspension makeovers) is taken to ultimate levels and brings new meaning to the term “tricked out.” In many cases, we were actually left wondering how much genuine truck functionality is still available in some of the rigs we saw.
While the big-horsepower, more utilitarian, daily driven rigs we’re accustomed to featuring were few and far between at the 2015 SEMA show, there were plenty of customized rigs on hand that are powered by the Ford, Duramax, and Cummins diesel engines we dig, as well as VM Motori’s 3.0L V-6 powerplant.
Yes, based on their mods and interior/exterior configurations (for some reason, showing off engines isn’t very popular, nor is offering ownership or detailed descriptions of upgrades), the lion’s share of diesel rigs at SEMA are trucks that would normally be featured in our sister magazines, Truckin and 8-Lug, or starring as universe-conquering road vessels in futuristic/Mad Max-type films. However, we understand that for some enthusiasts, the “show” aspect of the diesel hobby is just as important as “go” is. So, with that being yet one more truth about SEMA, we present this collection of the stunners that were turning heads at the show in 2015.
Photo 2/46   |   001 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 3/46   |   002 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
With “fully customized” being the dominant gene for trucks displayed at the 2015 SEMA show, Patriot Tires’ six-door, six-wheel (with independent rear steering) side-by-side hauler definitely takes the concept to new levels.
Photo 4/46   |   003 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 5/46   |   004 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 6/46   |   005 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 7/46   |   006 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 8/46   |   007 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
You might be wondering, “Why is a Chevrolet El Camino SS included in a feature about diesels?” Well, the reason this particular ’70s-era muscle truck made the cut is because a 6.6L Duramax engine sits between its front fenders.
Photo 9/46   |   008 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 10/46   |   009 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 11/46   |   010 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 12/46   |   011 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 13/46   |   012 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 14/46   |   013 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 15/46   |   014 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
As expected, Jeff Kelderman’s ’15 Ram 2500 is decked out with his company’s air suspension system. However, unlike many other trucks at the SEMA show, visual upgrades for the tow vehicle were not limited to a unique wrap, custom grille and bumpers, and LED lighting. “We set this truck up to work,” Jeff says. And that’s exactly what it did. With a set of 4.10:1 rearend gears and a Snow Performance water-methanol system being the only performance changes, the rig performed flawlessly, towing the Kelderman RV trailer (which also has an air suspension) from Iowa to Las Vegas “like it wasn’t even connected to the truck,” the driver says.
Photo 16/46   |   015 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 17/46   |   016 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
After a few back-and-forth text messages, we caught up with our friend, Tyler Brancifort, at American Force Wheels’ outdoor showcase. Following a long, cross-country trip from Massachusetts, Tyler was excited to show off Street Diesel Performance’s “now blue” Ford F-450. The new color (which was added to engine pieces, too) is the big deal, as the same truck was featured in a root beer brown hue (which we actually saw) just a few months prior to SEMA. The detail in the repaint is awesome, and the engine in this rig makes some steam, too!
Photo 18/46   |   017 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 19/46   |   018 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 20/46   |   019 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 21/46   |   020 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Diamond Eye Performance says that since its Hummer H2 had been “parked in storage for a few years,” making a radical change to the truck would be the only way it could be brought back into the public eye. That change is highlighted by a 1,000hp, compound-turbocharged Duramax engine now residing where the gasoline powerplant used to sit.
Photo 22/46   |   021 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 23/46   |   022 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 24/46   |   023 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
We were happy to see this trick “short bus” parked among all the pickups on display at the 2015 SEMA show. While it looks rather mundane (and that’s really part of its allure, in our opinion), the bus is loaded with a compound-turbocharged, 5.9L 12-valve Cummins engine. We don’t have any doubt that the kids will get to school in record time with this piece.
Photo 25/46   |   024 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Shawn Baca’s ’06 Dodge Ram 2500 was the most unassuming diesel rig in the lot, despite probably having more horsepower than any other oil-burning pickup at the show. Yes, this is the rig that lit up the chassis dyno with 2,168 hp and 2,990 lb-ft of torque, using a slew of Industrial Injection’s performance pieces to get it done.
Photo 26/46   |   025 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 27/46   |   026 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 28/46   |   027 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
The truck that can arguably be called the flagship of the 2015 SEMA show sat rather innocently in a corridor just outside the Central Hall. This Nissan Titan XD is known throughout the aftermarket as SEMA’s “measurement truck”—the rig that was used by many companies for conceptualizing, developing, and test-fitting new parts for the vehicle. For us, Banks Power’s new Ram Air intake system is the eye-catcher. We’re definitely interested in putting this piece to the test on a Titan XD’s stock 5.0L Cummins engine.
Photo 29/46   |   028 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 30/46   |   029 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 31/46   |   030 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Captain Steve Rogers gets props for his neat little off-road Jeep, which sports a compound-turbocharged, 5.9L 24-valve Cummins engine.
Photo 32/46   |   031 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
The Welder Up crew’s old-school flatbed International is one of the trickest, well-crafted diesel projects we’ve seen. A 5.9L 12-valve Cummins makes it go, the exhaust stacks are incorporated in the headache bar, and airbags support the suspension. Couple that with subtle but really cool metal fabrication, and the result is one badass work truck.
Photo 33/46   |   032 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 34/46   |   033 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 35/46   |   034 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 36/46   |   035 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 37/46   |   036 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 38/46   |   037 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 39/46   |   038 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Nissan and Cummins officials took the wraps off their new potential record-breaker, Project Triple Nickel. While we were initially thrown off by the parachute (and thought a drag-race truck was in the works), the news was shared that assault on performance milestones in land-speed racing is the focus of this effort.
Photo 40/46   |   039 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 41/46   |   040 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 42/46   |   041 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 43/46   |   042 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 44/46   |   043 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 45/46   |   044 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Photo 46/46   |   045 Baddest Diesel Trucks SEMA 2015
Because...SEMA!

POPULAR TRUCKS

Subscribe Today and Save up to 83%!

Subscribe Truck Trend Magazine

Subscribe to:

Truck Trend
Magazine

PRINT DIGITAL
Subscribe Diesel Power Magazine

Subscribe to:

Diesel Power
Magazine

PRINT DIGITAL
Subscribe Truckin Magazine

Subscribe to:

Truckin
Magazine

PRINT DIGITAL
SUBSCRIBE TO A MAGAZINE
CLOSE X
BUYER'S GUIDE
SEE THE ALL NEW
NEWS, REVIEWS & SPECS