SEMA 2013: The Not-So Calm Before The Storm
Welcome to the jungle

Ready or not, the 2013 SEMA Show is here!

While the doors at the Las Vegas Convention Center have not yet officially opened for SEMA attendees (the event starts Tuesday morning local time), over the last couple of days the place has been a hive activity as exhibitors roll in, set up their booths and prepare for the big week ahead.


Speedhunters team members from all over the world are converging on Vegas for the SEMA Show this year, so you can look forward to detailed coverage throughout the next week or so. I was the first with my boots on the ground, driving in on Interstate 15 this morning and enjoying the last few moments of tranquility before the madness really begins.


After checking in at my hotel, I headed directly to the convention center to pick up my credentials and take a look at some the last-minute preparation going on.


With less than 24 hours until SEMA opens, the show floor is still a bit of a mess with booths being built and display vehicles being put into position. The pure logistics of setting up this massive show never ceases to amaze me, and it’s hard to believe that everything will be ready for the thousands of industry visitors that will flood through the doors tomorrow.


At this point, you might want to bring a hard hat as there are cherry pickers, forklifts and huge crates being moved all around. Couple that with the occasional sounds of modified cars being rolled in and you’ve got some well-orchestrated chaos.


Outside, the madness continues as the last arrivals queue up in the loading zones, with most show cars on trailers and a smaller number arriving under their own power.


One member of this latter group was our own Keith Charvonia, who arrived this afternoon from Arizona with the Double Down RTR. As I write this, he’s getting the wheels fitted and rolling the Mustang onto the show floor.


Anyone familiar with SEMA should know that getting a car ready for the show is never as easy as it seems. All through the convention center, people were putting the finishing touches on their cars.


For some it’s as simple as a quick detail…


… but for others there’s a lot more involved. It seemed like a few people were practically building their cars right at the show. Nothing like the last minute SEMA crunch, right?

A sneak peek

Yet despite the chaos and the fact that many cars are still under wraps, I actually think Monday might be my favorite day to visit SEMA.


First off there’s the crowds, or should I say the lack thereof. You can bet that by tomorrow, there will be a lot more people in a scene like this.


And I’m sure anyone who’s ever tried to take photos at a large event knows how difficult it can be to shoot with thousands of people walking around.


The other reason I like SEMA’s set-up day is because I’m just plain excited to be here. While it might be the toughest and most hectic week on the calendar, I still look forward to the show every year and can’t wait to see all the new stuff.


I know I won’t like everything I see at SEMA this week, but that’s part of what makes the show such an adventure. It’s the good, the bad and the ugly of the automotive aftermarket. We’ll try to focus on the good though.


At SEMA, you’re guaranteed to see vehicles from opposite ends of the ride height spectrum, from the rows of jacked up brodozers…


… to some of the lowest custom vehicles on the planet. How can you not like a FedEx delivery van sitting on the ground?


Over in the wheel and tire area, I found a couple more cars being put into position. On the left is the Subaru BRZ that Dai Yoshihara will drive in Formula Drift next year and on the right a very battle-worn ALMS Porsche.


Speaking of Porsches, here’s a very familiar looking 964 with some not-so-familiar wheels…

First impressions

While I’ve really only had a sneak peek of this year’s show vehicles, I already have a few favorites. Custom Ford Transit Connect vans? Yes please.


Like VIP cars? I spotted lots of them parked up around the convention center during today’s reconnaissance mission.


Naturally, we will have up-close looks at all of SEMA’s coolest and craziest builds as we make our way through the coming week.


During my fleeting visit today, I was also able to pick up on some of this year’s trends.


One initial observation. It seems like you can’t go more than a few steps without seeing a car with bodywork from TRA Kyoto, Liberty Walk, or a combination of them both.


There’s the Liberty Walk Ferrari 458 in position in the Nitto Tire booth. Our feature has already blown up this website, and the 458 is sure to be one of the most talked-about cars at the show.


No surprise here, but the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ are still some of SEMA’s most popular platforms as they continue the tuning market renaissance.


Appearing for the first time this year are modified examples of the new C7 Corvette. I spotted my first C7 in the wild last week, and already the show is full of new ‘Vettes with aftermarket suspension, wheels, power adders and more.


It seems like Pro Touring style isn’t going away either. SEMA is once again filled with classic muscle cars that have increasingly big rubber and modern horsepower to match.


My initial impressions also suggest a heavy European car presence this year, but this will be something we’ll have to investigate further as we make our way through the show.


I was going to say that this post is just the appetizer to the full course meal of SEMA Show coverage we have in store, but it’s not even that. Maybe it’s the salt and pepper shakers or ketchup bottle that’s already on the table?

Whatever it is, we are in for a crazy week in Vegas. Bring it on.



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got to get more on the458 Ferrari just that presentation that stage screamssssssssssssss


"The good, the bad, and the ugly of the automotive world."  Perfect way to sum up SEMA.


wheatgod lol. i guess we'll see less of the rocket bunny kit on the brz/scion and see it on everything else. (its not a bad kit at all i just wish i'd see it on less cars... seemed like 8 out of 10 scions last year had to have the same kit .... i liked how at least the voltex kitted scion stood out... )

Brandon Motteram

LOL at the Falken Tire Porsche still having grass in the grill from Petit Le Mans. Nice to see something from the East being brought over to the West Coast


wheatgod aw, c'mon bolt on fenders give a car that raw purposefull feeling. It's a love or hate thing i think ^^


The Fedex Truck is really funky ^^


1 word: BASEMENT!


Rotiform making their take on Fuchs?


wheatgod ZOMG opinions!!! RAGEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!


I have to go to a s make show once in my life abdomen showcase of sweet rides looking like rolling candy immune tasty


Oh god I hate typos sorry guys that's to a sema show once in my life damn smart phone. XD


Freightliner cab ?


Need to see more of that white Focus ST. Any side shot of the wheels? Look like OZ Superturismos like the old BTCC days.


" How can you not like a FedEx delivery van sitting on the ground?" You could be someone who works for they're far better then them competition- UPS :P


@no_handle Onecton Just what I was thinking.


wheatgod d_ravi know there wasn't many. the gt-r suffered from this this when it made its debut in TAS... not to much going on in the styling dept.... i really like the evasive kitted ft86 they featured last year.
that seemed a bit more exclusive than the RB kit... and i know that toyota will probably have a scion event... i bet half of the cars will feature the kit. the RB kit is not a bad kit and and im not trash talkin it.... i just wish it were a bit more exclusive and not mainstream.


Just can't wait for the next SEMA article to be posted!! Keep it up!! :)


wheatgod ZOMG pointless trolling!!! RAGEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

re-re-FTFY ;) lol


OMG the white Focus is awesome!!!!! Are those Focus RS Mk2 wheels? Looks to have widened rear fenders!! Omg it looks so good! Mike please run a feature on it. Or at least more pics!!!


I like to observe pictures & spot other cars that are in the background. For example, Daigo Saito's SC430. That time of the year is here again. Bring on the madness!!!


Brodozers?! Why do you ricers hate lifted trucks so much?


Itchys2 That's not what I heard...


d_rav wheatgod Oh please, you hipster.


SEMA... definitely one for the bucket list.
Better than the Tokyo auto salon?


wheatgod apex_DNA d_rav You ARE a hipster when you dread something you like going mainstream i.e selling out.


apex_DNA because reasons.
and bros.


wheatgod ZOMG reddit!!!!!!!!!! RAGEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!
re-re-re-re-FTFY ;)


apex_DNA d_ravav  BUT i like vw's... is labeled a hipster... DARN U INTERNET!!!!!


stayshift wheatgod you got it stayshift, lol 

and to wheatgod;
hi pot, its nice to meet you, my name is kettle, you sure look black today.