SEMA 2019: Cars and Trucks Gone Wild

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceVehicles Gone Wild
Many people are perfectly happy to purchase a new car and simply leave it the same as it was the day it rolled off the dealer’s lot. But for those who prefer to stand out with some unique wheels, custom paint or a complete overhaul, the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show — also known as SEMA — offers inspirational examples of the myriad possibilities for car personalization. Held annually at the massive Las Vegas Convention Center, the SEMA show reveals some of the most outlandish and extreme custom vehicles. Since the show is not open to the public, what follows is an insider’s look at regular production cars and trucks on display at this year’s SEMA show that have been taken to the next level — and beyond.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceChevrolet Silverado HD Z71 Sport Concept
This unique Silverado 2500 HD has been set up to look good while heading off the grid for adventure. Equipped with the Z71 off-road package, the Sport Concept features an off-road suspension with twin-tube Rancho shocks, a metal underbody shield, a 2-speed transfer case, off-road tires, an auto-locking rear differential and a 6.6-liter V8 engine producing 410 horsepower.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceChevrolet Silverado HD Z71 Sport Concept
Adding to the concept pickup’s adventurous looks are HID headlights; body-color front and rear bumpers; a black Chevrolet bowtie up front, as well as black skidplates, running boards, hood vents and mirror caps. Completing the adventurous package is a Horizon roof-top tent by Napier, which will be available as a Chevrolet accessory later this year for $1,499.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFord Mustang Lithium by Webasto Customized Solutions
Considering the continued electrification of the automobile by nearly every car company, it may only be a matter of time before classic V8-powered performance cars such as the Mustang go fully electric. Ford Performance teamed up with Webasto Customized Solutions to create this unique Mustang “Lithium” concept for the 2019 SEMA show. Instead of a V8, this Mustang features an electric motor powered by a 75 kWh battery pack that generates 900 horsepower and more than 1000 lb-ft of torque. Even more unusual: the electric motor is teamed with a 6-speed manual transmission.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFord Mustang Lithium by Webasto Customized Solutions
This powerful Mustang also gets a Ford Performance half-shaft upgrade kit, a Super 8.8 Torsen differential and a short-throw shifter. Additional Ford Performance modifications include street lowering springs, a sway bar kit, a strut tower brace and a GT350R brake kit. Keeping that power on the road are Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires fitted to 20-inch Forgeline wheels. Inside are Recaro Sportster GT seats as well as a 10.4-inch display screen.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFord Explorer Limited by Blood Type Racing
Ford introduced the first hybrid Explorer earlier this year as part of the completely redesigned 2020 Explorer. This fuel-efficient SUV received a custom makeover for SEMA by Blood Type Racing, adding a level of sportiness and sophistication. The matte-white exterior is contrasted with a black-chrome grille, rear bumper accents, door handles and roof rails. Black-chrome 20-inch wheels with Toyo Open Country tires and Borla black-chrome exhaust tips add to the sleek look. Completing the design are custom BTR edition snowboards on top.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFord Explorer Limited by Blood Type Racing
Inside this tricked-out Explorer, a carbon fiber steering wheel from SoCal Garage Works sets the mood along with custom floor liners and a cargo mat. There’s also a Ford Play rear-seat entertainment system as well as an Xbox One console and controller.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFord Ranger XLT Sport by Tjin Edition
At past SEMA shows, lucky attendees have seen Mustangs and F-150s customized by Tjin Edition. This year the tuning company took on the all-new Ford Ranger. As if the sunburst yellow paint doesn’t attract enough attention, this Ranger SuperCrew 4X2 has been slammed to the ground. With an Air Lift performance suspension, the Ranger has been dropped 8 inches in the front, 9 inches in the rear.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFord Ranger XLT Sport by Tjin Edition
This special Ranger has also been fitted with a Ford Performance cat-back exhaust system, Roush air intake and an RPG Off-Road front-mounted intercooler. Exterior upgrades include a power-retractable tonneau cover, RTR fender flares and grille with LED lights. The 22-inch Rotiform 3-piece wheels complete the lowered look. Inside the yellow theme continues with yellow seat harnesses attached to the Recaro Cross Sportster CS seats.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFord F-350 XLT FX4 by BDS Suspension
Continuing an overlanding theme that seems to run throughout this year’s SEMA show, BDS Suspension has turned the F-350 Super Duty into an adventure rig ready to leave civilization behind. Getting there is half the fun, and this Super Duty shouldn’t have any problem getting anywhere with a 4-inch lift system, FOX 2.5 Factory Race DSC coil-overs and shocks, a 65-gallon fuel tank, a Warn winch and 20-inch wheels with 40-inch Mickey Thompson Baja off-road tires.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFord F-350 XLT FX4 by BDS Suspension
This custom truck comes with off-grid equipment that includes a 110V-2000 watt power inverter, a collapsible 4-foot aluminum table, camping chairs and kitchen gear. At the back of the truck are a 2-burner gas grille and Dometic electric refrigerator. Up top is a hardshell tent with awning.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience1968 Ford Bronco by Jay Leno
At this year’s SEMA show, comedian Jay Leno was on hand to tell the story of this 1968 Ford Bronco. The junked Bronco was gifted to Leno by fellow comedian and late-night TV host Craig Ferguson as a joke on Leno’s last taping of The Tonight Show — deposited in Leno’s personal parking space on the studio lot. At the time the Bronco was a complete wreck (thus the joke), but Leno knew how desirable these classic Broncos are. After sitting unrestored, the Bronco underwent a long restoration and customization process under the guidance of Leno, who worked with Ford Performance and SEMA Garage to create this sleeper of a classic Bronco. We call it a sleeper because — from the outside — this looks like a painstakingly-restored Bronco, but nothing more.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience1968 Ford Bronco by Jay Leno
The surprise is what Leno put under the hood. This Bronco is powered by the same 5.2-liter supercharged V8 engine in the all-new Mustang Shelby GT500, which generates 760 horsepower — about 10 times the potency of the original Bronco. Jay also had TREMEC create a custom 5-speed manual transmission since the GT500 is not available with a manual. “Bronco was an iconic vehicle that was many things to many people,” said Leno. “The Bronco was bought to use on the farm or to take your date to the prom and was comfortable in any of these environments. The idea of having a classic Bronco upgraded with modern handling, performance and braking really makes it the best of both worlds,” the comedian noted.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHonda Rally Passport
The all-new Honda Passport was introduced earlier this year. A crossover based on the popular Honda Pilot, the Passport is 6 inches shorter, 1-inch taller and 1-inch wider than the Pilot, providing an overall sportier stance. With high ground clearance as well as aggressive approach and breakover angles, the Passport is designed to excel both on and off the pavement. To showcase the Passport’s capabilities, Honda R&D associates extended their work hours to create this project vehicle to compete in stage rally competition in the Limited 4WD class of the American Rally Association.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHonda Rally Passport
The Passport didn’t require much modification in order to compete in rallies; however, this rally racer has a few modifications that differentiate it from the standard model. These include a roll cage and safety equipment per ARA regulations, Maxxis RAZR MT Tires fitted to Braid Wheels, Carbotech brake pads, front and rear skidplates and a hand-operated hydraulic brake. The Rally Passport turned out to be quite successful, earning a second-place in class and 14th position overall in its first outing at the Southern Ohio Forest Rally.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHonda Ridgeline HFP Concept
Unlike any other pickup truck on the market, the Honda Ridgeline is more like an SUV with a truck bed rather than a classic body-on frame pickup design. This gives Ridgeline some unique capabilities as well as impressive versatility with features such as a trunk built into the bed of the truck. For the SEMA show truck, Honda Factory Performance outfitted the Ridgeline for a more adventurous buyer.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHonda Ridgeline HFP Concept
The HFP Ridgeline features a lift kit and a widened track (the distance between the wheels along the axles), which gives the truck a rugged stance. Adding to this look are all-terrain tires mounted on concept 18-inch bronze-finish HFP alloy wheels. A Thule bike fork mount is installed in the truck bed, holding a pair of custom Fuji mountain bikes. There’s also a Thule Xsporter bed rack, a roof-mounted cargo carrier and our favorite feature — the roof-mounted Tepui Kukenam 3 tent in Siberian Camo.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHonda CRV “Dream” Build by Jsport Performance Accessories
Continuing the adventure theme at the Honda stand is this customized overlander version of the updated 2020 Honda CR-V. Designed to head off the beaten path for a excursions in the great outdoors, this special CR-V features a 1.5-inch lift kit and 17-inch KMC wheels fitted with Nitto Ridge Grappler all-terrain tires.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHonda CRV “Dream” Build by Jsport Performance Accessories
The Dream CR-V is also equipped with an organization cabinet with drawers installed in the cargo area alongside a slide-out refrigerator. Up top is a Roofnest Falcon clamshell-style rooftop tent. There are also side steps, a modified front bumper, a rear tire carrier and a plateau modular roof rack.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHyundai Veloster N Performance Concept
Hyundai’s SEMA concept vehicles typically come from third-party tuning shops; however, this N Performance Concept was built in-house. As the basis for this concept, the N variant differs from the standard Veloster with a unique front fascia and grille, dedicated air ducts for enhanced brake cooling, side rocker sills, a rear spoiler, dual exhaust and lightweight alloy wheels. More than merely an appearance package, the Veloster N boasts a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine generating 275 horsepower and 260 ft-lb of torque, teamed with a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHyundai Veloster N Performance Concept
This Veloster N Concept’s enhancements include 19-inch OZ forged racing wheels, Pirelli P-Zero Corsa high-performance tires, Daewon Steel anti-roll bars, Extreme Racing coilover suspension, Alcon forged 6-piston front / 4-piston rear brake calipers and — for a bold exhaust note — Capristo cat-back anodized exhaust tips. Making certain the N Performance Concept looks the part, this Veloster has a unique KWA hood, grille garnish, fog lamp garnish, front splitter, side sills, rear spoiler, rear diffuser, outside mirror covers and engine cover — all in carbon fiber. Inside are Sabelt Alcantara and carbon sport seats, as well as an aluminum gear-shift knob.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHyundai Kona Ultimate Concept by Rockstar
The Hyundai Kona is a stylish crossover that offers plenty of interior room and an enjoyable driving experience. Even though it is available with full-time all-wheel drive, the Kona is not considered an off-road vehicle. The folks at Rockstar Performance Garage had a different vision, and turned this crossover into a proper off-roader.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHyundai Kona Ultimate Concept by Rockstar
Upgrades to the standard Kona included King suspension upgrades, RaceChip performance tuning, a K&N Filters billet intake, R1 Concepts performance brakes, Baja Design LED lighting, a Magnaflow exhaust and 16-inch Motegi Racing wheels fitted with 30-inch Mickey Thompson race-grooved tires. Inside the customization continues with alligator-skinned seats and a Kicker high-end audio system.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceJeep JT Scrambler
In the early 1980s, Jeep built a pickup-truck version of the CJ-7 (this was before the Wrangler name had been introduced) called the CJ-8 Scrambler. Only 30,000 of these were built, and orange and red stripes were its signature look. Now that the Jeep Gladiator pickup is on the market, Jeep designers created an homage to the Scrambler with this JT Scrambler concept. Using Punk’N Metallic Orange and Nacho body-side stripes running from the front panels to the bed with a matching hood graphic, the JT Scrambler is a close match to the look of the original.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceJeep JT Scrambler
Based on the Gladiator Rubicon, the JT Scrambler makes extensive use of Mopar brand’s Jeep Performance Parts, including four 5-inch LED lights installed on the sport / roll bar with two more on the A-pillars. Additional LED lights are located on the brush guard, turning night into day with 8,000 lumens each. Inside, the color theme continues with Katzkin Amaretto Brown leather seats bordered in orange thread, with the Jeep grille logo embroidered in a light Tungsten on the seatbacks. A Mopar bright pedal kit and all-weather floormats complete the interior.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMopar Lowliner Concept
Believe it or not, this beautiful piece of mobile artwork started life as a 1968 Dodge D200-Series heavy-duty pickup truck. Mopar designers took the original frame of the rear-wheel-drive truck and transformed it by lengthening the wheelbase and lowering it substantially. A custom air suspension allows for three modes: low, driving height and driving height plus. Covered in a tasty-sounding Candied Delmonico Red and Dairy Cream paint, the lowrider sits on 22 inch wheels — 11 inches wide in the rear for a more aggressive look. The powertrain is a 5.9-liter Cummins diesel showcased via the power-tilt front end.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMopar Lowliner Concept
The exterior of the Lowliner Concept has a clean design, eliminating door handles, badging, the fuel-filler cap and antenna. At the front are 7-inch LED headlamps — a significant upgrade from the originals. Inside is a classic bench seat, but this one is covered in Blazing Saddle tan leather. The Mopar logo is stitched into the leather headliner. As a nostalgic touch, the original 1968 steering wheel remains in place with the original Dodge emblem in the center.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Global Time Attack TT 370Z
Although the 370Z is advancing in age, Nissan keeps this sports car fresh with the Global Time Attack TT 370Z. Nissan Motorsports teamed up with Z1 Motorsports to create this extreme example of the classic Z car. Starting with a stripped, acid-dipped 370Z body, the Time Attack TT inherited a full safety cage as well as a custom carbon-fiber aero package that includes a front splitter, a rear diffuser and sideboards. Inside is a single FIA racing seat with a NISMO competition race harness, as well as a quick-release steering wheel.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Global Time Attack TT 370Z
This custom Z not only looks fast, it has the power to match. The stock 3.7-liter V6 engine has been prepped for competition by adding twin Garrett GTX turbochargers, resulting in a power output of more than 750 horses. All that power gets directed to the rear wheels via an HGT Precision 6-speed sequential gearbox. Suspension and steering are also custom built with NISMO racing components, and the race car gets a Brembo braking system as well as 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with Yokohama Advan high-performance tires.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Frontier Desert Runner
The Desert Runner has been a trim of Nissan’s midsize Frontier pickup for years, offering off-road features in a 2-wheel-drive truck. One look confirms that this Desert Runner is a bit more than that. The automaker worked with MA Motorsports to convert the Frontier into a desert-running beast. With a long-travel front suspension kit, the Desert Runner features King Racing Triple Bypass shocks and coil-overs. At the corners are 37-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/A tires on Fifteen52 TurboMac 17-inch wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Frontier Desert Runner
The biggest upgrade from the standard Frontier is under the hood: MA Motorsports replaced the standard V6 engine with a 5.6-liter Endurance V8 from Nissan’s Titan full-size pickup. The engine was then subjected to a complete race-spec rebuild with the addition of a Garrett turbocharger — the end result is 600-plus horsepower and 700 lb-ft of torque. The Desert Runner also features a full package of off-road lighting from Rigid Industries, as well as a body wrap by Speed Designs.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRam 1500 Rebel OTG Concept
Designed for heading off the grid (thus OTG), this custom Ram has been outfitted with a range of Mopar accessories. The basis for the OTG concept is the off-road-ready Ram 1500 Rebel, and the capability has been further improved with a Mopar concept 2-inch lift kit, beadlock wheels with 35-inch Goodyear tires, an integrated winch, a functional snorkel air intake and step-assist rock rails. The truck bed gets added versatility thanks to a new multi-function tailgate that features 60/40 split swing-away doors.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRam 1500 Rebel OTG Concept
Inside the Rebel OTG truck bed — easily accessible via the unique tailgate — is a retractable battery-powered cooler and kitchen unit with a gas-powered stove as well as a sink with an onboard water system. Power comes from deployable solar panels or a battery backup. A bed rack system is installed above the truck bed, making a perfect floor for the collapsible rooftop tent, accessed via a stowable ladder. “Unlike traditional ‘four-wheeling,’ in overlanding the journey is the final objective. The goal is to explore rather than conquer obstacles,” said Joe Dehner, the head of Ram Truck and Mopar Design. “This is why we developed this concept, to allow vehicle-supported, self-reliant adventure travel, typically exploring remote locations and interacting with other cultures. This is the vehicle that I’d like to have whenever I choose to go ‘off the grid,’” Dehner enthused.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceToyota GR Supra Hyperboost Edition
After a 20-year hiatus, the vaunted Toyota Supra has finally returned. The popularity of this legendary sports car was evident at this year’s SEMA show, with multiple custom versions on display throughout the show floor. Not to be outdone, Toyota brought a few of their own custom Supras, including this one conceived by NASCAR analyst Rutledge Wood. A self-proclaimed Supra fanatic, Wood presented his vision of the ultimate Supra, which he dubbed GR Supra Hyperboost Edition. This special Supra has a 20-piece wide body kit as well as an adjustable coil-over suspension that lowers the car for a much more aggressive stance.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceToyota GR Supra Hyperboost Edition
Wood wanted his Supra to possess more than simply good looks — under the hood is a custom turbo kit that bumps output of the 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine to more than 750 horsepower. The power gets managed on-road with Continental ExtremeContact performance tires fitted to 20-inch Litespeed Racing wheels, while large Brembo brakes help stopping power.

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