It’s a show that could only ever be held in Las Vegas. The SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) exhibition is North America’s annual trade show for the tuning and customisation market, packed with weird and wonderful displays from major manufacturers to tiny tuning firms. This year the Las Vegas Convention Centre is packed with as many crazy creations as ever – here are a few highlights from 2014 SEMA.
The ultimate sleeper: Toyota Camry dragster in disguise
One of the absolute highlights of SEMA 2014 is the Toyota ‘Sleeper Camry’ project. Created by Toyota’s Motorsports Technical Centre, it’s quite possibly the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing. It looks just like a regular Camry (and therefore the most nondescript car possible), but lifting its bodywork reveals a tubular dragster chassis, housing an 850bhp 5.7-litre supercharged V8 up front, complete with nitrous injection. Fantastic. One of the few outward clues as to the Camry’s true nature are a pair of 335/30 drag racing tyres at the rear. Not a car to pick a race with at the traffic lights. Toyota reckons the Camry will crack the 10-second standing quarter mile barrier. A post-show tour for the car at various National Hot Rod Association meets is next on the Sleeper Camry's agenda.
Ken Block’s Hoonicorn Mustang
Sideways driving enthusiast Ken Block’s latest steed for the seventh instalment in his Gymkhana video franchise is the Hoonicorn RTR, based around the body of a 1965 Notchback Ford Mustang. Created by Block’s Hoonigan Racing enterprise in collaboration with drift car specialists RTR, it’s the spectacular fruit of a two-year build process. Under its impossibly low-line bonnet is a 410 cubic inch (6.7-litre) Roush V8 with more than 830bhp and 720lb ft. Shod with Pirellis 295/30 tyres constructed to Block’s own rather specialist compound requirements (lots of smoke), it’s all-wheel drive in order to create the kind of cartoon cornering speeds and slip angles the Gymkhana series is famous for. We can all look forward to seeing the Hoonicorn heading backwards with all four wheels spinning forwards in Gymkhana 7, then. Maybe dressed up with a Gone in 60 Seconds police chase element, who knows?
First sinkhole Corvette restored
Remember the disaster at Kentucky’s Corvette Museum back in February 2014, when a sinkhole developed beneath the building and dropped eight display cars 25 feet through the floor? This is the first of the unfortunate cars to be restored to its former glory, on show again for the first time at SEMA. Nicknamed the ‘Blue Devil’, this 2009 Corvette ZR1 was the first car to be lifted out of the sinkhole. It was actually driven from the museum under its own power but still needed extensive bodywork, suspension and oil line damage to be repaired. Next to be restored are the one millionth Corvette and a 1962 model, to be finished by the end of 2015. The other five cars will remain in their damaged state and become part of a future display.
Sensible Kia has gone a bit mad this year, with four concepts in various degrees of wackiness. The Ballast Point Sedona (top left) transforms Kia’s MPV into a mobile bar, with a flip-up roof and flip-down bar surface, both in mahogany. The barman enters via one of the Sedona’s sliding side doors and the suspension has been fitted with airbags to cope with the weight of the kegs. It’s joined by the Ultimate Karting Sedona (top right), a roof-rack, trailer, awning attachment and lots of stickers. The interior’s been turned into a mobile workshop too, although we suspect most kart teams would rather stick with a Transit.
Meanwhile, the Smitten Ice Cream Soul (bottom left) is a truck and trailer combo with liquid nitrogen tanks on board to freeze the ice cream, roof-mounted loudspeakers designed to look like waffle cones and a stainless steel work top attachment betwixt car and trailer. Kia’s also come up with a sleeper of its own, the K900 (bottom right). Based on the foreign-market Quoris saloon, it’s relatively restrained on the outside (glossy 21-inch wheels aside) but packs a 650bhp 5.0-litre V8 under the bonnet. There are two turbos, innovatively mounted under the boot floor to avoid heat build-up in the engine compartment.
Too jazzy? Honda customises the Jazz
Honda is displaying multiple custom versions of the Fit (the US-market name for the Honda Jazz), created by six independent design teams. We quite like MAD Industries’ effort, complete with a miniature motorcycle in the boot. Not sure about the yellow tint for the glass, though.
MX-5 Global Cup racer
Mazda used the SEMA show to debut the official race version of the new MX-5, which will compete in various one-make championships around the world culminating in a champion-of-champions event in California at the end of 2016. Find out more in our Mazda MX-5 racer story here.