November 11th, 2010

Six of the best from SEMA

Americans love a big Las Vegas convention. People crowd the floors of a big convention centre to drool over things like the latest comic books and sex toys. The big car convention is SEMA, which is kind of a collaboration between the two. The Specialty Equipment Market Association show is the world’s largest aftermarket car show and it is the place to see what is likely to be ‘hot’ in car design and car modification in time to come.

After seeing what was on offer at this year’s SEMA show, we have picked six of the best cars from the show. They may not be the most extreme or expensive cars from the show, but they are the cars that we want to see go some way to being widely accessible.

VIP Lexus LS600h

Who said you couldn’t be a member of the Yakuza and care about the environment? Well you can. VIP tuning is massive in Japan and involves getting that European luxury from your car but with an added bit of JDM gangster.

To have a true VIP car you need; big rims (usually broad faced designs) with low offsets that sit flush with the fender, exhausts that stick out past the rear bumper (although not so much emphasized these days), a full bodykit or lip kit, glossy paint, a lowered ride height and a sprinkling of extreme negative camber.

Luckily VIP Auto Saloon’s take on the LS600h ticks all of these boxes but then highlights them with a fist in the air for brown car lovers by spraying it in metallic bronze.

The Honda CR-Z collective

The car which tuning houses saw as a block of plasticine to be mould something completely new out of was Honda’s schizophrenic sporty hybrid, the CR-Z. When had the CR-Z on test our major criticism was that it could have done with a bit more grunt under the bonnet. And by the looks of it we weren’t the only ones as tuners at SEMA went absolutely mental with the CR-Z. A total of 12 CR-Z’s had been tricked out by big companies such as MUGEN, Honda Performance Development, Bisimoto, Eibach Springs and Fortune Motorsports.

Bisimoto were the company who had been eating CR-Z space cakes for breakfast though. They somehow managed to freshly squeeze 533 hp from a turbocharged hybrid powerplant. They claim it retains the driveability, reliability and eco-friendly nature of the original engine, but we don’t car because it has a parachute on the back. But, the CR-Z that took our eye was by official Honda tuner MUGEN. The CR-Z Hybrid R has been turbocharged to give out over 200hp and isn’t an impossibility. They also slapped on some larey wings and splitters to make it look twice as aggressive and finished it off with a Flavor Flav spec badge on the front. Am I the only one that thinks this should be Honda’s next touring car?

Scion xB Assault

Scion has always encouraged people to tinker with their cars. This year they let the Armed Forces go wild with this Scion xB. Each armed force was given one xB and $15,000 to modify it. This is the xB tactical vehicle, dubbed “xB Assault,” an attempt by team Kai Hei Tai. It loosely resembles the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle they use daily. At SEMA, if something is jacked up to the roof, or slammed to the floor people love it, meaning that we give this xB the motormorph seal of approval.

Toyota Sienna Swagger Wagon Supreme

Any car that has the badge ‘Swagger Wagon Supreme’ stuck on the back needs to be appreciated. The Swagger Wagon Supreme is actually a Toyota Sienna that has read one of those spam emails and ordered some sort of ‘extension’.

B.A.D. Company started the project by stretching the Sienna by nearly four feet and expanding the wheelbase to lengthen the interior cabin space and add more “swagger” on the outside. A custom acrylic roof replacement approximately eight feet long was installed to help bring in natural light and create a warm and stylish environment – Kevin McCloud would like that. The passenger ‘area’ includes two swivelling captain’s chairs, one of which is equipped with a multi-function, programmable massage unit. A table can be folded out in the seating area for that romantic meal and then can be hidden away so things can progress on to the full size sofa to watch a soppy rom-com on the massive LCD screen. Did I mention there was a full air bag suspension system? It apparently gives that extra lift … if you catch my drift.

Hyundai Sonata Turbo

This modified Hyundai proves one thing, Hyundai’s can be cool. Designed by RIDES magazine they modded this Hyundai Sonata with a custom body kit, screwed on some big 20-inch Rennen Modular M9 wheels and painted it in a matte pearl colour. What we like though are the small details, like how the headlamps, taillamps, grille and beltline have been smoked out into a matte black. Understated and cool, we love it.

Mazda 2 Evil Track

We need to start a petition to get this car into limited production for a one-make series. We already like the Mazda 2 as an alternative small car, but lowering and stiffening the car, then adding 15inch wheels wrapped in sticky racing tyres and giving it carbon fibre aero upgrades means it is guaranteed to bring a smile to people’s faces. Just look at it! It is awesome. Mazda please can you put this on your list to Santa this year.

Rowan Horncastle