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SEMA 2015: Every Hall, Every Lot, Every Truck

Nov 13, 2015
Photographers: Brett T. Evans
As Las Vegas’ second-largest trade convention, the City of Sin rolled out the red carpet for attendees to the 2015 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, but the neon and glitter of the Strip was just a small portion of the show’s draw.
The 2015 SEMA Show had something to offer just about every truck and SUV fan, including slammed race trucks, lifted diesels, minitrucks, and Jeeps of just about every kind. With nearly every horizontal surface of the Las Vegas Convention Center taken up, the Truck Trend Network team had a bear of a time ensuring every nook and cranny was documented, and while it would be the height of hubris to say we succeeded 100 percent, we’re confident in saying we came very, very close.
Receiving the 2015 SEMA Award for Hottest Truck was the Ford F-150 (taking back the crown after a one-year hiatus), while the Jeep Wrangler took home the honors for Hottest SUV. The SEMA staff meted these awards out simply enough; they counted every single vehicle on display and handed awards to the most prolific. Clearly, vehicle customizers found much to like in Ford’s popular pickup, and the iconic Jeep off-road special’s customizability made its value known yet again.
Other vehicle manufacturers shouldn’t be discounted, though, as the all-new Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado Duramax, and Honda Baja 1000 race truck made big splashes. And as could be expected of anything relating to the automotive aftermarket, this year’s show showcased a wide variety of hot new truck and SUV products.
Covering more than 30 miles each over the course of the week, to say our feet are tired is an understatement. But it’s also an understatement to say the 2015 SEMA Show was merely a good time. Follow along to see the vehicles and products that made it so fun.
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This 2016 Chevrolet Silverado designed by Phat Phabz was part of Truckin’s contingent. Our sister magazine had several builds on display throughout SEMA, including three from Oklahoma-based Phat Phabz.
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Starwood Motors customizes Jeeps like this Wrangler “Bandit” shown here. Fit with a 7.0L supercharged Hemi V-8, we bet the Bandit is more than capable of getting out of its own way. We dig the little truck bed too.
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Katzkin brought a Hurst Heritage GSS Ram 1500 pickup to SEMA. The custom truck sports Mr. Norm–inspired styling cues, 22-inch Hurst wheels with coordinated colorways, and Katzkin custom leather with Hurst embroidery.
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It’s not just American pickups on display at SEMA. South Korean automaker Kia showed off their bitchin’ Pacific Northwest–inspired Sorento SUV. Featuring a custom 6-inch suspension lift, 33-inch tires, and bespoke body armor and storage racks, Kia’s PacWest Adventure Sorento looks like a great way to explore the Cascades.
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Kia’s cross-continental foe Honda brought a whole other kind of off-roader to the show. Primed for the upcoming Baja 1000, Honda’s race truck features a one-off tube-frame chassis, Fox Racing Shox, a twin-turbo 3.5L Honda V-6, and bodywork meant to evoke the forthcoming ’17 Ridgeline pickup.
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More Australasian goodness could be seen outside the convention center halls. For those of you scratching your heads at this beast, it’s a Holden Maloo, the same Aussie that provides the bones for the Chevrolet SS sport sedan. That’s right: this thing’s practically a modern El Camino.
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Micro-truckers didn’t get left out of the fray. Shane Plato (the world’s youngest monster truck driver) showed off the Skull Krusher, an awesome mini-monster truck with more performance than some of our staff’s personal vehicles.
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Vaughn Gittin, Jr.’s Ultimate Fun Haver spent the better part of the week turning tricks at the Ford Out Front showcase in front of the convention center. His air-suspended, 3.5L EcoBoost-powered Ford F-150 took several lucky showgoers for a wild ride, drifting, jumping, and screeching around the skidpad. Check out that spit of flame coming from (we think) the tire valve!
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Look close: That’s metallic protective coating applied liberally to this Jeep—for when, you know, you need to get the cheerleading squad to the other side of the Serengeti.
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Over at Ford’s booth, The MRT-designed Ford F-150 “TKO” has a surprise for you. Backed up to the 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 engine is a six-speed manual transmission!
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Ford also brought this Gulf-liveried Galpin Auto Sports F-150 to the show, combining a lift, 37-inch tires, wide bodywork, and a sweet custom grille to great effect.
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Ford’s factory-hot-rod F-150 Raptor wasn’t even slightly overshadowed by its custom-built brethren at the company’s SEMA booth. Attendees practically drooled all over themselves getting a look at the upcoming truck, due next year.
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BDS Suspension’s 5.3L Chevrolet “Crawlorado” is a great reminder of how awesome these first-generation Colorado pickups can be. Although perfectly acceptable in standard form, BDS’ efforts took this truck into solid-axle heaven. It’s also an alumnus of our sister magazine 4-Wheel and Off-Road’s 2015 Ultimate Adventure.
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Moving into the present, buzz around Chevy’s current Colorado shows no signs of slowing down. All week long, an oil-hungry crowd could be seen peering into the engine bay of the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax.
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The Colorado Red Line Concept adds some cool touches to what’s already a great midsize pickup. Asymmetric wheel paint, tubular step bars, and a slick above-bed bicycle rack mean this thing is primed for action.
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Finally, it looks like we may get the off-road Colorado we’ve always wanted. The Colorado Trail Boss 3.0 Concept relegates the standard Colorado’s front air dam to the recycle bin, opening up more space for approach angles and wheel travel. A slick black rally-stripe package is appropriately American, and it gives the truck some extra attitude.
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Paying tribute to the United States Navy’s Special Operations, the Chevy Silverado Special Ops concept sports battleship gray bodywork, bed-mounted search and rescue equipment, and concept-stage Brembo brakes. Camouflage interior trim with orange accents set the cockpit off quite nicely.
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Jeep will be putting the Wrangler Red Rock Edition into limited production, featuring all the kit of Wrangler Rubicon with the added capability of a 2-inch suspension lift, 35-inch tires, and LED head- and foglights. Custom “Red Rock” interior embroidery, matte-black exterior accents, and a Jeep-branded CB radio round out the added accessories, among others.
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The Ram 1500 Rebel X takes the half-tonner’s off-road package just one step further, adding a cold-air intake and exhaust kit to the 5.7L V-8, while fender flares, 35-inch tires, beadlock wheels, and skidplate add off-road capability to the pickup. Copper paint gets Mopar Blue and matte-black accents, and Katzkin leather seats get an embroidered blue “X.”
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The Jeep Wrangler Red Rock Responder is primed to rescue your sorry ass when you get stuck inside the Devil’s Bathtub. The usual suite of lifted suspension parts and off-road tires get joined by a winch and other recovery parts, keeping the trails clear.
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We cannot get enough of this Jeep Chief concept. Taking a huge inspiration from the Jeep Cherokee of the 1970s (a sibling to the Wagoneer), the Wrangler Chief’s interior and exterior styling get a nice infusion of early 1970s surf culture (check out the Hawaiian-style interior trim and “Big Kahuna” shift knob for the six-speed manual transmission).
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Omix-ADA and Rugged Ridge brought some of the coolest vintage Jeeps we’ve ever seen to the show. While the Jeep CJ fire vehicles were pretty neat, the real heart-stopper was the fantastic 1946 Willys CJ-2A, featuring dual rear wheels and dual front wheels, a PTO-driven front winch, a passenger-seat–mounted welder, and fold-down mowers. We’d volunteer to do yard work if this was our rig. Another standout was the 1978 Jeep J-10 pickup, racked up with less than 2,500 miles, with a rare Levi’s denim interior package. We’d sell our left kidney for that one.
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Slam Specialties and Accu-Air provided the laid-frame suspension for this Chevrolet Colorado, which tucks down on 24-inch wheels. It’s a great look for this fresh pickup.
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ICON’s Toyota FJ44 is the stuff of our childhood dreams. You probably know the whole ICON story by now (vintage body shells, modern powertrains, machined billet parts, etc.), so we’ll just let you look at the photo. Try not to drool.
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Not every truck was a customized wunderkind, as this bone-stock ’17 Ford F-Series Super Duty brought out by the company shows. Plan on seeing tons of these big bruisers at next year’s SEMA Show, as the truck was too new for this year.
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We finally got our eyes on the Toyota Sienna UUV, a minivan that takes its mechanical underpinnings from a Tacoma 4x4. Also, note the suicide front doors and sliding rear doors. No, really. The doors slide out like a drawer.
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Funrise Toys and Toyota collaborated on this awesome 4Runner Tonka truck. While it doesn’t have the dirt-hauling capabilities of some of Toyota and Ford’s other Tonka vehicles, it still looks like it’d be a hoot to play with in a giant sandbox.
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Hyundai brought a trio of tuned Tucson crossovers to SEMA, including this one. Breathed on by famed tuner Bisimoto, this cute-ute has 700 horses courtesy of one seriously overbuilt 2.4L I-4. A six-speed manual, Air Ride suspension, and fifteen52 wheels.
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Electrons got their fair share of representation at this year’s SEMA Show. Aside from a variety of VIP-style Toyota Prius hybrids and slammed Fiat 500e compacts, the new Bigfoot monster truck gets its motivation exclusively from electricity, courtesy of a truckload of Odyssey batteries.
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We admit, we don’t have too many details on this 1950s GMC cabover car hauler (or its shapely 1954 Ford woody station wagon), but we can say this: The guys at Laid Back Customs sure do have good taste.
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Nothing captured this author’s attention better than The Viking, a 1959 Chevrolet Apache built by John Canepa. John did all of the metal- and woodwork, paint, and chassis work on this gorgeous Apache, and it couldn’t be cleaner.
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The Toyota Tundra TRD Pro might not be the first thought most people have when thinking of pro-street pickups, but the Honey-D Tundra is one example where the formula works. A Honey-D widebody kit hunkers the Tundra low over its wide, knobby tires, making this machine look like a decent Japanese foil for the Ultimate Fun Haver.
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Although it’s not immediately apparent, underneath the bodywork of these two wild off-roaders is the Jeep Wrangler JK. The Innovation Super Sport Utility Vehicle Concept takes a JK, strips it down to the bare minimum, and adds back enough parts to make it a world-beating off-roader.
At the other end of the spectrum is the USSV Rhino XT. Starting with the same Jeep JK chassis as the Innovation rig, the folks at USSV add bespoke body panels, a luxurious new interior, and a removable hard top with panoramic roof glass. Think of it as a Wrangler for the Beverly Hills crowd.
Photo 39/52   |   TTRP 150300 SEMA 039
The Chris Kyle tribute GMC Yukon XL Denali was on hand at the 2015 SEMA Show. Featuring some slick matte-gray automotive coating supplied by Avery Dennison, the SUV was built to drum up awareness for the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, an organization that provides support for emergency response and military servicemen who may be suffering from PTSD. It features Kyle’s frog logo prominently, and it will be touring the nation to help raise support for the foundation.
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It doesn’t get more extreme than this, the Fab Fours Legend. Based on a (you guessed it) Jeep Wrangler, the Fab Fours Legend has a GM LS3 V-8 crate engine, a custom 10-inch stretched front suspension, a 6-inch suspension lift, Fox remote-reservoir shocks, and enough custom bodywork to make Chip Foose jealous.
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The Mallett Cars Chevrolet Colorado came with a sizable amount of boost, courtesy of Magnuson Superchargers. Adding 100 rear-wheel horses to the Colorado would certainly cure one of our only complaints about the truck: a lack of low-end power.
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Nice to see you, old friend. This truck, shown at the Toyo Tires exhibit, is one of the Legacy Classic Trucks Power Wagons we drove back in June.
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Seen at the Royal Purple booth, this 1966 Ford Bronco is expertly restored, featuring a custom multi-link suspension, remote-reservoir shocks, 35-inch tires, and a Ford Racing 302ci V-8 crate engine. Wilwood disc brakes keep it all under control.
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You think your lifted truck is pretty special? Try this Ford F-350 (former dualie!) on for size. It’s sporting 54-inch tires. ’Nuff said.
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Called “Valyrian Steel,” this piece of rolling, post-apocalyptic automotive sculpture isn’t really a truck, but we’ll call it one anyway since it’s got big swamp tires. Fabricated in just six months, the team that built it has 2000 man hours in it “so far,” and it’s motivated by a Ford 5.0L Coyote V-8. It was designed by Henry Chang.
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With all the buzz surrounding the 2016 Nissan Titan XD, it was no surprise that the company teamed up with engine provider Cummins to introduce Project Triple Nickel. That right, the partnership of Nissan and Cummins is headed to the salt flats next year and are aiming for a land speed record.
From top down:
Edge Performance Products Chevrolet Silverado and BD Diesel Performance Ford F-350 Timberland Tires Land Rover Defender “Urban Warrior” Nissan Titan XD “Measured For Success” SEMA build Bones Fab “Short Bus,” fresh off the Hot Rod Power Tour “Cruisin’ Cone” International Metro ice cream truck South End Kustom Triton, a 1960 Chevrolet El Camino
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Returning to the SEMA Show was Ignited, the massive afterparty that takes place just across the street from the convention center. At the close of the SEMA Show Friday night, exhibitors filed their vehicles from their indoor confines in one gigantic parade cruise, filling the parking lot near the convention center with literally hundreds of custom trucks, SUVs, street rods, sports cars, classics, and custom vehicles. Musicians and food trucks rounded out the event, which was open to the public. It was a must-see, if only for the sheer volume of awesomeness concentrated in such a relatively small amount of real estate.