It’s been a few weeks since the 2021 SEMA Show wrapped up, yet my head is still swimming.
The event was so overwhelming that it took a good week for me to realize how much I actually missed. Remember, this was my very first time at the Las Vegas show, and also my first SEMA project car debut (more on this soon). There was just so much to see at what seemed to be an endless venue.
As previously mentioned, the Toyo Treadpass featured over 30 unique debuting or reimagined vehicles this year. To make the cut, owners had to submit a render to Stan Chen, Senior Manager of Events for Toyo Tires. You also have to have somewhat proven yourself as a capable car builder, since that admission relied solely on the rendering along with a bit of a story about you and your build.
After seeing all of these vehicles in person, I can clearly see why each and every vehicle was selected.
Over the course of the last few of weeks, we’ve shown you a number of builds from the Treadpass, including a couple of closer looks at the Garage Active full carbon wide-body R32 GT-R. I feel like this Skyline stopped more people in their tracks than any other, and I pored over the details of the car for hours and could not find a single flaw. My Z31 build was inspired by Garage Active’s naturally aspirated RB32 R32 GT-R, but I never imagined having my car displayed right next to one of Kazushige Sakamoto’s creations.
Another car I really enjoyed looking over was this 1981 Toyota Starlet owned by J.D. Ashe and built by Sean Ramage of Empire Fabrication in Simi Valley, California. The KP has been tastefully modded from top to bottom, and I think they followed a very similar formula as I did with the Z31. Also, like my car it took 4.5 years from start to finish to complete.
Up front is a 3S-GE BEAMS engine, but with the top plastic cover removed it looks a lot like an 18R-G, which gives the 2.0-liter four-cylinder a retro vibe. The 3S motor sits in a shaved the bay and features a custom header and intake manifold.
Outside, the Starlet features custom bodywork with Mk1 VW Rabbit flares and one-off rockers that deleted the pinch welds. There’s also a relocated fuel door, custom rear metal wing and front valance, custom splitter, a narrowed GT-S rear end, and aluminum bumpers front and rear. 13×7-inch TOM’S Igeta wheels are wrapped in Toyo Proxes R888Rs and the suspension is from Techno Toy Tuning.
The Toyota has been fully re-sprayed in Miami Blue with vintage TRD-inspired stripes to pull the whole look together.
The custom-trimmed and caged-up interior is particularly cool.
Next up we have Jimmy Taylor’s SR20DET-swapped Datsun 510. A huge amount of work has gone into this car, but it’s all tastefully done. It starts with shaved bodywork and carbon fiber fender flares and front lip, to which Jimmy has matched a set of timeless 15-inch Volk Racing TE37V wheels in classic bronze.
The SR engine setup – which includes an S15 ball-bearing Garrett turbo on an HKS exhaust manifold and a GReddy intake manifold – ensures plenty of power for the lightweight 510. The bay is shaved, tubbed and wire-tucked too.
The driveline, suspension and brakes have all been upgraded, and the spec here includes a Subaru differential, Techno Toy Tuning coilovers, a JB Coachworks rack and pinion conversion, custom CV axles and S13 rear brakes.
Jimmy did almost all of the fab work on this car too, so credit where it’s due.
Carlos Bonilla, AKA Pakman Z, debuted a reimagined version of his long-time-owned 1990 Nissan 300ZX, working closely with digital artist Khyzyl Saleem to bring this V2 bodykit to market.
This RHD-converted Z32 features a 2JZ-GTE VVTi swap – with big single turbo – by Billy Freed of Freed Engineering. That name will be familiar for anyone who’s kept up with my build.
Ahead of SEMA and his well-earned spot at the Toyo Treadpass, Carlos tore the Z down for a full respray and new graphics, then with the help of T-Speed reassembled it just in time for Vegas. Wheel-wise, this one’s on super-dished SSR SP1s.
Sometimes less is more, and when you’re working with a classic Hakosuka Skyline, keeping things clean is never a bad thing. Hansel Echeverria of Leen Customs Pin Garage has done an amazing job of his C10, but don’t go thinking it’s mostly stock. Under the hood is swapped SR20, and suspension upgrades include an S130 coilover conversion and Techno Toy Tuning control arms.
You really have to love the Millennium Jade paint finished off with Carbon Signal bumpers and trim, and the combo of finely-fitted Dunlop Lemans 24 wheels and Toyo Proxes R888R tires is spot on.
The variety of cars on display in the Treadpass is what makes it such a visual feast. From a six-wheeled G-Wagen to Pandem-kitted BMW 8 Series, there was something for everyone in 2021.
Amazingly, two of us ended up taking home awards chosen by judges from Meguiar’s and Pit & Paddock. Leo Reece Graves’ time attack GS300 took Best Performance Build, and my Z31 was awarded Best in Show. I’ll delve into the final aspects of my build and its SEMA debut in the coming week.