Hey SEMA, What’s Cool?
Fender Flares… & Other Stuff Too

The SEMA Show always brings out a strange mix of reactions from me. It’s one of the biggest and most chaotic events that we cover each year, and it seems like no one is ever fully ‘ready’ for it. With insane crowds, insane cars and an insane amount of walking, it’s unlike any other automotive event out there.

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Heading into SEMA on the first day is always interesting. You’re about to encounter miles of modified cars, new parts and other stuff that’s being shown for the first time. It truly is the good, the bad and the ugly.

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By the time the end of the week rolls around, exhaustion begins to set in. I think anyone who attends SEMA regularly will know how good it feels once everything has wrapped up and you can relax a bit. But now that I’ve recovered, I thought it’d be a good time to take a look back and make some observations from this year’s show.

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In terms of trends, over-fender and wide-body kits continued to dominate at SEMA 2015. Given how quickly tastes change, I’m surprised about that. I thought we might see the wide-body trend start to fade out, but that doesn’t seem to be the case – at least not in Las Vegas.

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Once again, there were dozens of Rocket Bunny equipped cars spread around the show, with several builds sporting the new Boss front-end conversion. Stay tuned for more in-depth features on a couple of these builds in the coming weeks.

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Along with the Boss conversion, the other big showing from Rocket Bunny was the Pandem kit, as seen on the E36 I spotlighted last week, and this blue M3. The color here likely does a better job of showing the kit’s lines as opposed to the intricate wrap on the other M3.

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Not surprisingly, Liberty Walk kits could also be found all over the show. There were GT-Rs, Challengers, 911s and more.

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As for the exotics, there were a couple of LB Works Audi R8s to join the crowd of Lamborghinis and Ferraris already sporting the Japanese body parts.

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Other brands are jumping into the mix as well, making their own versions of wide-body kits for a variety of late-model performance cars.

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Some builds, like this Audi in the Toyo Tires display, went in a slightly different route with their fender design, but the overall idea is still very similar.

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Even the OEMs seem to be getting in on the big fender craze, as demonstrated by the AWD Dodge Challenger concept being shown in the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles booth.

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Have we reached the saturation point when it comes to fender flares and wide-body kits? SEMA seems to say ‘not yet’, but I guess time will tell how long this all lasts.

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RWB Porsches have had a presence at SEMA for the last couple of years, but 2015 seemed to be the biggest yet. The popularity of Nakai-san’s air-cooled machines is showing no signs of fading.

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Among the RWB cars that stood out was this beautiful RS-styled build. It was one of several widened 911s parked in the iForged booth.

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And then there’s Jon Sibal’s own RWB 964; a car which we are currently in the process of putting together a full feature on. Stay tuned for that one soon.

Old Is Cool
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It’s not all wide-body flash though. I’m a sucker for ultra-detailed vintage car builds and there were plenty of those at SEMA this year, including this lovely Porsche Speedster in the Coker Tire booth wearing some old school style Firestone rubber.

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This VW bus build was one of a couple of vehicles built by Stone Fab being shown at SEMA. As a Central California boy, it’s always nice to see local builders like Jacob doing big things on the national stage.

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I’ve already shown you one awesome COE build in a spotlight last week, and here we have another sweet vintage hauler. This time it’s a Chevy displayed at Max Grundy’s art exhibit.

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Off-road vehicles are always a major part of SEMA, but this year there seemed to be even more of these builds than usual. One of my favorites was this Ford in the Hella booth.

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Also getting plenty of vintage cred was the Jeep Chief Concept; a project built off a brand new Wrangler, but styled like a California beach cruiser from the 1970s. I love the color choice and slotted mags.

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You’ll also find plenty of genuine vintage race cars being shown around SEMA, like this BRE 510 originally driven by Bobby Allison and now owned by Adam Carolla.

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On the other hand, some builders like to mix vintage styling elements and modern technology. We saw it in the Rad Rides Plymouth and it’s also evident in this ’55 Chevy from the Vortech booth.

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It’s rocking a supercharged LS under the hood, but the paint and details give the whole thing a very period look.

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Even Toyota was getting in on the retro theme with its awesome Back to the Future tribute Tacoma, which debuted last month during the BTTF Day celebrations. Toyota has to build this thing!

Keeping It Real
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While the GReddy/Sung Kang FuguZ build was rightfully getting lots of attention at SEMA, it wasn’t the only impressive S30 build on display at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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This 240Z from Z Car Garage in San Jose just happens to have OS Giken TC24 power under the hood, and I’m planning to head to the Bay Area soon to get a closer look at this rare machine.

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As expected, there were tons of high-end Mustang and Camaro pro touring builds at SEMA, but one of the cars that caught my eye was this partially completed Lincoln Continental.

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As you can see, it’s got blown Roush power in the engine bay, and it should be pretty radical when it’s done. I’d really like to see more builds using full-size American platforms like this.

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And if you are going to build a classic pony car, why not do something really wild like this chopped and channeled Camaro? As far as SEMA goes, the crazier the better.

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If one thing’s clear at SEMA, it’s that people always like seeing creative, outside-of-the-box builds. That’s why cars like Sung’s 240Z and Mike Burroughs’ revived Rusty Slammington attracted so much attention this year.

Trends may come and go, but hard work and ingenuity will always be in style.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia_media

Cutting Room Floor
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full feature on rusty? also anymore info on the long hood RWB?


I know one of the guys that built the blue Camaro.


Great Coverage!  I loved the RWB Hollywood1 after watching it being built on the ItsWhiteNoise Snapchat - to see it in person was WOW!


Lose the bags on most of these rides and they'd be decent. 
Overall love the post and the melting pot of fresh rides.


I'm usually not a fan of over fenders but I REALLY like Dodge Challengers with them added on. The RWB Porsches are okay, too!
SEMA is definitely the place to go to get seriously inspired. The amount of talent on display is staggering.


I'm a big fan of wide bodied cars, they're all awesome!...(drooling
The Pandem M3 will be the one for me, because THAT's the PERFECT style.
It brought back the feel, style, and looks from the awesome IMSA/Group 5 race cars!


Do I spy a Liberty Walk GT-R with the Pandem flares in red peeking out behind the BMW hmmmmmm?


@mike garret you like the continental? You should check out the one our shop just finished. Check @speedandfab on instagram.... just saying :)


'66 4 door convertable. Custom 4 link rear end, Air Ride, Blue Print 351 Windsor, etc.


that last sentence is what sets a trend-car apart from a nice build ;)


The wide fenders trend is so evident there. I welcome widekits but dont like the fact that 90% of them look like the same over fenders just bolted onto different cars. 

SEMA looked awesome as always though. Awesome quality of cars and builds!


I believe Max Grundy was involved in that COE build as well. His art work is awesome!
Bring on the features!!


Fender flare convention 2015.


DinoSawr Was about to say the same, they look pretty similar to me


Rusty Slammington is back?! How did I miss that


xrockonx i dont like how to rear wheels are significantly larger


What will happen when the next scene comes and all the cars now have cut up quarter panels from applying the widebodys?


so sorry people cant go inside the show but outside ????? wtf so special about it now


The guys over at Z Car Garage are aweaome! You wont be disappointed if you go


427 camaro... drool!!!


This over fender trend has to stop. Too many nice cars are getting cut up for the sake of a fad.


To many overfenders... In my opinion they fit on some cars (Most Liberty walk creations are great) But on most cars they're just stupid. The increasing numbers of cars "on air" is looking horrible aswell, tuck just doesn't look good in most cases, the RS7/S7 in the BMW "Pandem" Picture is just ugly...


Me either. I'm liking most of the rest of it though. Wish somehow he still had those gorgeous gold rims that used to be on it.


Tony_san as the fad fades out, the value on these cut-up Toyubarion are gonna droppppppp....and the aftermarket for quarter panels is gonna get rich!


Wide and low always was and always will be popular. They just will. I think that right now we're all realizing it for the first time since the internet media explosion has happened. The fact that's its lasted over ONE ENTIRE year is not surprising to me lol. I don't know why people expected it to stop so suddenly.


In terms of lowering cars, I MUCH prefer the fitment look over the tucked look


Those Audi's look shit !


Go away over fenders. We will look back and laugh at these cars in 10 years time(I know it's been going on for ages, but I mean the cookie cutter RB/LB style), just like we do with the last fad that went over board then died on it's ass(candy/graphics/chromies). These cars will be almost worthless in a few years once this dies off.....who'll want a chopped up car with a past fad riveted stuck to it's sides.


jwogan83 Like x10000000000000000....good luck to those trying to sell a supercar with over fenders once the fad dies. LOL!


Tony_san My thoughts exactly. Cheap super cars, and worthless 86's etc.


abezzegh87 But they all look identical, don't you find that beyond boring?


Fender Flares... Fender Flares everywhere...


RE FuguZ :  Sung speaks in his first Episode about how Paul Walker was a purist and owned cars he'd never even driven and how life was too short for that. He went on to tell us how and where he found his Z and how the body was it good condition and a fantastic base to start a restore project. I was so upset that he whacked a Rocket Bunny kit on it and TE37s.. sure it looks great this year, and maybe next... but its a timeless car.. I was hoping for a beautiful restore with factory everything.  The black one you have shown here is really quite stunning!!

Closed course films

Sema summit of shit built with zero purpose....and its supposed to project what consumers are doing now or will be doing in the year. Well it's catching on. Most car enthusiast are just a bunch of poser garage queens. Sema is garbage


I love fender flares and I love wide body, because I love racecars. However I like the look because I subscribe to the "form follows function" school of thought.
So with that in mind, I think there should be a rule that if you have fender flares or a wide body, you have to track your car at least once or twice a year :)


Closed course films It's projecting what people have been doing the past 2-3 years. Nothing new to see here.


So, wide fender are really trending now? sigh..


ToughDog That RCF..........bleeeh!

Gianluca FairladyZ

That blue RCF....!


i love how rusty kind of started out as a joke - just hacking together whatever he could, however he could- though, built with passion, it never really had a point other than to look nuts. This one appears to have been built so carefully and perfectly - i can defiantly see why Rusty is now at SEMA.


Closed course films all car enthusiasts are poser garage queens...EXCEPT for you, of course! Right?

Closed course films

My comment is most and the few like me are thinner and thinner each year. Build it use don't display it like a ship in a bottle.


Spaghetti Isn't old school coverage just showing people doing the same thing they've been doing for years... Ten years from now will over fenders be old school cool like louvers and mags? Will drift charms be the moniker Miata and VW Golf rat-rods will don, as all Bel-airs and Devilles graduate into musems?


Closed course films and what about those who build it, display it, and use it? There's usually more of those folks than we'd think




"Trends may come and go, but hard work and ingenuity will always be in style." What a great quote to tie everything together. A very well written article indeed and great pictures, hopefully I'll be able to come out to SEMA one year...


The RCF looks most fitting with over fenders.


CharlesChris15 xrockonx  I totally thought the same thing at first, until I found out that the wheels are sourced from a real Porsche 956 group c car. How cool is that! I would imagine it would be a bit expensive to get two sets of 956 wheels just to get a full set of fronts...


CharlesChris15xrockonx btw the fronts are 16x12 and the rears are an insane19x14.5!!!!!


is more to come on that orange RCF?! looks soo good!


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