The big auto shows are where car manufacturers routinely showcase new production and concept vehicles. Increasingly, however, automakers in partnership with aftermarket specialists are using the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas to present innovative products, ranging from the mild to the wild. We’ve been tracking this year’s reveals in advance of next month’s show and have come up with a sampling of vehicles worthy of a mention.
Rockstar Performance Garage Hyundai Tucson
At least four Hyundai models will receive the SEMA treatment this year, including the compact Tucson SUV. This front- or all-wheel drive model is hardly the type of vehicle you expect to be taken off road and that’s just the challenge Rockstar Performance Garage was determined to overcome.
From stem to stern, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson receives the RPG treatment, receiving customized bumpers and a roof rack as well as Bulldog LED lighting, including 40-inch LED light bars.
Modifications to the suspension system raised the Tucson’s height by 6 inches, benefitting from 32-inch MTZ P3 tires from Mickey Thompson and fully adjustable shocks and struts from King Shocks. Under the hood a K&N intake and intercooler from Mishimoto provide boost for the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine powering the Tucson.
Other modifications include a Kicker audio system and Hyundai’s next generation Blue Link telematics system.
Additional Hyundai models featured at SEMA will include a Veloster Turbo R-Spec presented by Blood Type Racing, a race-inspired Solus Genesis Coupe from ARK Performance and a high-performance Tucson from Bisimoto Engineering that produces more than 700 horsepower. Watch out, Hellcat!
Ford Edge and Explorer SUVs
The Ford Motor Company says that 28 Edge and Explorer SUVs will receive the SEMA treatment, demonstrating this manufacturer’s influence on the aftermarket parts market. More than 50 Ford products will be on display, including a Ford Edge presented by Ignition by Webasto and a Ford Explorer represented by All Star Performance.
The Ford Edge receives Mustang-like performance, including a throttle enhancer, axle-back exhaust and ECU calibration. The chassis is enhanced with a performance suspension, an aluminum brake kit and stainless steel braided brake lines. Forged mono block wheels, a custom-built sunroof and an Alea Leather custom interior are also included.
The Ford Explorer Sport customized by All Star Performance receives custom paint, front and rear Wurton LED light bars and a Thule Canyon carrier basket. The chassis benefits from a Traxda 2.5-inch lift kit, the powertrain gains a Vortech front mount intercooler and Magnaflow performance exhaust, and the interior offers custom suede/leather upholstery.
By the way, the official SEMA Show After-Party, SEMA Ignited, is open to the public. Ford is offering free tickets through its website.
Acura ILX by Galpin Auto Sports
The Acura ILX hardly brings to mind high performance, although its 201-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and eight-speed dual-clutch transmission provide enough kick to match competing models. That being said, the ILX is the right candidate for customization, and Galpin Auto Sports is tasked with those honors.
Little is known about the ILX modification, but we do know that its modifiers took inspiration from a 1993 Acura Legend owned by rapper Ludacris. The performer has owned his Acura since before he made it big, but that car was nearly destroyed in an accident.
The Acura Design Studio in Los Angeles took Ludacris’ Legend and has restored it to its former glory. The studio also puts its own stamp on the sedan with that reveal taking place at SEMA on Nov. 3. Besides the modified Legend and ILX, Acura pledged to showcase its next-generation NSX super car at the show.
Chevrolet and Dodge Rumors
Not every manufacturer has gone public with their 2015 SEMA reveals, at least not yet. That isn’t stopping rumors from circulating about what other manufacturers have in mind.
We do know that Chevrolet Performance intends to reveal the latest iteration of its famed small block 350 V8 engine. The latest version of this 60-year-old power plant makes use of Fast Burn cylinder heads with beehive-style valve springs to make 405 horsepower and 405 foot-pounds of torque. Dubbed the ZZ6, it will find its way under the hood of countless General Motors products following its SEMA review. There is no word yet on whether a concept model powered by this V8 will be displayed.
Dodge always has a strong presence at the SEMA show and will likely follow the Viper ACR Concept with yet another concept. The good news here is that whatever is showcased may go into production, just as the ACR returns for the 2016 model year. We have yet to confirm that a performance Dart SRT-4 variant will debut, an all-wheel drive model engineered to battle the upcoming Ford Focus RS. A tamer, but still capable GLH (Goes Like Hell) Dart is also rumored, providing a logical bridge between the GT and the rumored SRT-4.
Other automakers such as Toyota will present at SEMA along with such auto accessory manufacturers as Edelbrock Racing, Lincoln Electric, Baily’s Hyperformance, Red Horse Racing and Ringbrothers. Chip Foose, Sung Kang, Erica Enders and Brian Deegan will be among the celebrities stopping by too.
The SEMA Show is not open to the public as it is a trade show where auto accessory manufacturers and industry buyers go to do business. Nevertheless, news of the event is broadcast instantaneously by media representatives while the show is in progress from Nov. 3 to 6, 2015.
Most of the vehicles presented never go into production, but there are exceptions, including a commemorative edition Chevrolet Camaro and a BMW 335i with M Performance Parts from last year’s show. This year there will be additional exceptions and the speculation about what those models are will certainly become rampant.