After several years of pandemic-shaped setbacks, you’d be forgiven for assuming the automotive world has all but returned to normal in 2022.
But head to Las Vegas during the first week of November, and you’ll quite quickly learn that the automotive world is anything but normal. It never has been, and (thankfully) it never will be. How else do you explain an event like the SEMA Show to non-car people?
There’s a reason it’s held just around the corner from Area 51; this is the only time martians get to feel safe around likeminded creatures all under the safety of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Swap out ray guns for RAYS wheels and you’re pretty much there.
That’s not a dig at SEMA either; this lunacy and madness is exactly what makes the automotive world so entertaining. If everyone jumped on the same trends, builds and modifications, it’d all get a bit boring.
And, while it’s far from faultless, you can guarantee it’ll unearth some of the most outrageous creations from anywhere in the world.
After all, you don’t maintain the status of biggest car show globally by doing things in half measures.
But after being cancelled in 2020 and severely compromised in 2021, what exactly will this year’s SEMA Show hold in store for us? Is it business as usual, or has the pandemic left it wounded?
So far it seems like it’s somewhere in between both of those. With the introduction of a new West Wing hall last year – built to expand the gigantic-yet-cramped show space of the past – on paper alone SEMA 2022 now covers the largest amount of floorspace ever.
Walking around though, you can’t help but notice the (lack of) certain OEMs from this year’s show, including both Ford and Honda.
Outside of OEMs, even the established SEMA specialists like LTMW have reportedly only built a handful of cars for this year’s show (six according to owner Long Tran) compared to as many as 22 in previous years.
And, during the setup day being documented here, it felt unusually calm. It was still busy, but the increase of show space combined with a reduced number of display cars means (previously) cramped areas actually have some breathing space. And that’s actually pretty good.
Speak to any seasoned SEMA Show exhibitor like Ravi of CSF Radiators, and they’ll tell you it feels like a shift is happening this year, reminiscent of the big global meltdown back in 2008.
In its most simple form, it’s as if the show got so big and chaotic that everyone needed a master reset in the form of a global pandemic to bring it all the way back to what SEMA should be about: showcasing the world’s coolest and most interesting car builds.
Even more bonkers than that is the fact SEMA 2022 seems to have a lot less bolt-on overfenders going on. In fact, there’s a lot less import cars full stop this year, thanks to a combination of both shipping/supply chain issues in the automotive scene and a huge rise in the SUV/overlanding scene.
Don’t take that negatively; there’s still some absolutely wild builds here, and in typical Speedhunters fashion we’ll be spotlighting some of our favourites throughout the week.
Take Mike Burrough’s Honda K24-powered Ferrari 308 build, something we’ve covered in the past thanks to its utter insanity and brilliance.
Set to be unveiled on the CSF Radiators stand later today, this is hands-down one of the showstoppers of SEMA 2022. Not only does it go against the grain, but the style and attention to detail is alarmingly good – something Mike manages to nail on every build he puts his name to.
While SEMA may not have fully recovered from the last two years (yet), its very existence in 2022 is something Speedhunters is only too happy to celebrate and fully support.
Traditional motor shows may be a dying breed in some parts of the world, but in Las Vegas at least you can guarantee it won’t be going anywhere without a PPV-worthy fight in the process.