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Automotive Industry News : SEMA Show Last Updated: Aug 28th, 2006 - 01:36:21

2004 SEMA Show: A Wrap Up
By Jacob Isaac-Lowry
Nov 10, 2004, 17:21

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The SEMA Convention in Las Vegas is the second largest convention held in the city, more than filling the enormous multi-floored three building venue. Try imagining five indoor football fields then stack some on top of each other, move them around a little bit, and then fill every square inch with after market automotive accessories. If you can picture that you've got a good head start on visualizing what the SEMA Convention is all about.

For someone relatively new to the massive scope of the automotive aftermarket industry, I was simply floored walking into this wonderful fantasy land. Perhaps the trip to Las Vegas itself had a little to do with my satisfaction of finally witnessing the automotive aftermarket in full dress.

The AutomotiveArticles.com press team left Lexington at around 1:30PM on Monday afternoon heading to Cincinnati to make our departure at 4:30. Unfortunately for us, the most effective flight schedule offered by our airline had us routed through Chicago. And Chicago was in the midst of a day long "hurricane". Not a problem, we would simply wait out the delay in the airport, get a bite to eat, and plan out our strategy for the show. I can tell you that after we sat helpless in the terminal and watched the sun set out of the tiny floor windows, we were running out of things to talk about. After nearly a four hour delay we were headed to the windy city. And as these things tend to go, upon our arrival in Chicago we were greeted with yet another multi hour departure delay. After sitting several long hours in the uncomfortable B terminal, we climbed aboard and flew off to the desert.

Finally we made it to Vegas nearly twelve hours after we had left the office in Lexington. Eagerly we gathered our bags and headed out to find a cab. Unfortunately we weren't greeted by a fleet of waiting crown victories, we walked smack dab into the back of a hundred person line all waiting for a taxis. Add half an hour to the trip total and we were loaded up and off to our hotel. At this point I couldn't wait to check in and go to bed; it was around 4:30AM our time and I just wanted to crash. We lucked out at the hotel as there were only around half as many people waiting to check in as we had encountered in the taxi line. Remember this is at 1:30AM Vegas time. The fact that we had to wait another hour just to check in at 1:30 in the morning really brought home the scope of the SEMA show. Everyone in town was here for the convention, over 100,000 registered attendees.

At long last we made it to our room and could sleep. But not for long. We awoke early the next morning to meet up with our west coast staff arriving from the valley and headed over to the Las Vegas Convention Center. After scrounging for a parking spot and walked nearly a half mile laden with computers, notebooks, and cameras, we checked in at the media center, received our passes and hit the show floor.

After such an exhausting trip, you might be tempted to question if SEMA was worth the hassle. Standing there in the doorway, there wasn't a doubt in my mind. I really can't even begin to describe the scene. It was simply amazing. I spent the entire first day just trying to learn my way around the convention center buildings and taking quick peaks at the different vendor booths. While most of the day was spent wandering the floor and soaking in the environment, we did manage to score passes to both the Honda Motors reception and the Scion party following the close of the show.

The Honda reception was unbelievable. The ballroom where it was held had been completely redone. There were lights, lasers, video games, food, a live DJ, and an open bar. It looked like a scene from an upscale movie. And that was just the setup. Inside were the likes of Road and Track editors, Sport Compact Car editors, the crew from Best Motoring, Stephan Papadakis, and a host of other tuner "celebrities". The coolest part of the whole experience was meeting all these noteworthy people. And I came to realize as the night and eventually the week wore on that the heart of SEMA is simply an enormous group of people who share a common passion coming to meet each other. Everyone I talked too from the BMI guys to the owner of AEM was honestly glad to meet me and enjoyed discussing anything and everything. The comradery I experienced first hand at SEMA is what really sets our industry apart from everything else. In the aftermarket tuner world there are very few people too big for their shoes.

Every day at the convention there was something new. OEM manufacturers were always having press conferences to officially release their latest and greatest. Every vendor booth had catalogues and new information on their new products. The media center was a constant frenzy of activity and official SEMA updates. And one night the drivers from the D1 Grand Prix were kind enough to drop by and tear up the Yokohama proving grounds with a great preview of true drifting skill. Speaking of which, there is nothing in the world that does the art of drifting justice like watching it in person. While it may look cool on a DVD, it becomes something totally different when the back end of a 400 horsepower S-15 swings by your face in third gear.

I am still struggling to put into words how impressive my SEMA experience was. Drifting in person, hanging out with magazine editors, shop owners, meeting the presidents of the largest companies in the industry, hanging out in vendor's booths, and enjoying all that is the 'normal' Las Vegas. In fact, I spent about twenty minutes flipping through my dictionary trying to find a word that could sum up the entire week. Unfortunately Mr. Webster must have never attended SEMA as there is no word in the English language capable of encompassing everything. Therefore, in a final attempt to impart upon you, the reader, my unbelievable trip; I have decided to create a word so glorious it immediately conjures images of all that is SEMA.

To put it succinctly, unsurpassed awesomitudiness. Simply unsurpassed.

The trip home from the shining star of the American desert was refreshingly uneventful. If I had been forced to deal with all the drama of the journey to Las Vegas, I very well may have imploded. After arriving back in Lexington, I collected all of the footage and pictures taken at the show and arranged a brief collaboration. Check out the pictures and video clips (Soon to come) below to see what the SEMA floor is all about.

A Few of the Hot New Forced Induction Kits!

Since we couldn't take photos of every single forced inudction kit showcased at SEMA, we snapped some shots of a couple kits that caught our eye. A few other kits worth mentioning are both the kick ass supercharger by ATI for the new GTO and the designed-from-scratch APS Evo VIII turbosystem.
The all new Turbonetics 350Z Single Turbo Kit
The Turbonetics Kit installed on a display engine. The Turbonetics kit tucked neatly in the engine bay.
GReddy's new Turbo Kit Releases
GReddy's Scion Tc Kit. GReddy's new RX-8 kit.

OEM Sponsored High Performance Machines!

All of the major OEM manufacturers showcased their big money sponsored vehicles. With over a hundred different vehicles on display from just the recognizeable makes it would be near impossible to show them all here. However were did put a few shots together of the Honda racecars and several of the surprisingly clean GM cars. Check out the other feature articles from our SEMA coverage for more information on the OEM SEMA pressence.
GM Performance vehicles on display
A very potent CTS-V touring car, fully prepped. This C-6 was one of the cleanest cars at the entire show with carbon fiber accents everywhere. A dozen GM performance engines from all the different family brands. A GM powered and sponsored prototype racecar impressive from a distance and even more so up close.
Honda's Forefront Racecars Waxed and Ready
The AEM S2000 road car, built to spec. This TSX is a completely built SPEED Touring car Everyone recognizes this RWD drag Civic. If you didn't recognize this Civic before, you do now!

Vendor Specialty Vehicles!

Not all but many of the vendor booths at the convention put their products on display by using a complete car! We captured our favorites on film for you. In addition to these awesome custom vehicles, there were dozen's of extremely worked over show cars packed with the latest and greatest audio equipment, home built hot-rods, luxury cars riding on $6000 worth of wheels, and 4x4 trucks capable of crushing small towns. It was truely awe inspiring to be a live witness to the amount of skilled work that went into creating all of the SEMA show cars.
Signal Auto's SR-20 350Z
Whats that under the hood of this SCC featured car? Ahhh, from this close the SR-20 is easily identified. A nice shot showing off the incredible paint job.
The NX Feature RX-7
A peak at the monster turbo on this red rotary rocket. A close up of the cockpit showing all the controls needed to keep this beast in check. Full shot of the car.
Racing Brake's Display Viper
Side shot of this stuffed Viper. Inside the rear hatch showing off the dual amps and the fuel cell. A quick interior shot. Same interior shot taken with no flash. The mighty V-10, can you say snakebit?
Hyundia's Custom Tiburons
A front shot of this custom built chopped top convertable Tiburon. From the back to show off the detailed stereo work in the trunk. At a first glance we were really impressed with quality of the audio install in this Tibby. After looking closer, we were REALLY impressed.

Various Pictures from Across the Convention Halls

When we began to sift through all of the photos and footage taken over the course of the week, we found a couple pictures that didn't really fit any sort of catagory but were still very representative of the caliber of equipment all of the aftermarket companies brought to SEMA. So here in no particular order is another round of SEMA convention floor photos for you to enjoy!
Panoz Roadster A Mustang built for Ford by a lucky speed shop. A Mustang built for Ford by a lucky speed shop. I couldn't resist this turbo'ed IS, amazing work under the hood and on the interior of the car. This lucky RX-8 is the poster child for the new Volk lineup. A shot of the Rays wheel display.  For anyone who ever wanted to know exactly what $10,000 worth of wheels looks like, now you know. A well built old school big block powered RWD Cavalier dragster. Baer's full lineup from mild to wild, enough stopping power to halt an out of control semi. The very sleek Cayenne from the PIAA wheels booth. This Civic was completely worked over, under the hood, inside, outside, audio, you name it. The Tanabe showcase S-15, very cool. A sneak peek at ATI's Procharger for the GTO, expect big power. I had never seen this car before, we were told it was an Opel.  It's hard to make out in the image but the contours on this thing were wild. Same car from a different angle.

Stay tuned for updates on the different products featured at SEMA as well as press releases from all the OEM manufacturers!

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