An Inside Look at SEMA Show 2018

Las Vegas, Nevada – known as ‘Sin City.’ Catch phrase: “What Happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Well for a few short days in late October/ early November Las Vegas becomes the site of the SEMA/ AAPEX auto show, the largest show of its kind in the World.

SEMA is something to see in person if you are one who is even remotely into cars, performance, speed or poetry in motion. To attend the actual show one more be somehow affiliated with the automotive business in some capacity (SEMA is a ‘trade show’ event and therefore not open to the public.) However with no affiliation anyone can show up to the grounds that surround the Las Vegas Convention Center where there are spectacular exhibits, more car parts and accessories than you can shake a stick and even the occasional celebrity sighting and of course some amazing cars. Did I mention there are some of the most amazing customized cars you will ever set your eyes on?  Want to do a ride-along in a Mustang Roush race car that drifts across a parking lot at what appear to be unsafe speeds? Done – No pass needed! Not enough to entice you check it out? The weather forecast (at least for 2018) while visiting the desert oasis knows as Las Vegas is quite spectacular in late October/ early November.

Inside is different yet the same. Pretty much every manufacturer and aftermarket product manufacturer is represented at SEMA. It would be almost impossible for one person to take in every exhibit the show has to offer. Many exhibitors have custom built vehicles meant to show off and highlight their latest projects.

Some highlights of the show……..

What Happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? Not this time. I want to tell anyone and everyone who will listen.

SEMA 2018

UPDATE: Our application to SEMA and AAPEX has been approved! We are excited to bring you coverage of this once-a-year event.

With any luck we will be attending the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas! Our flights and hotels are booked.

Is there such a thing as too much Horsepower?

I remember when 200 horsepower seemed like a lot. It was my 2002 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0T. When I compared it to my friend’s 2001 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T Wolfsburg Edition it was the sure winner in a race.

Fast forward 16 years and there are SEVERAL vehicles with well over 500 ponies available under the hood. Let’s look at some current offerings of the 2018 model year.

  • 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo – 540 horsepower
  • 2018 Mustang GT350 – 526 horsepower
  • 2018 Camaro ZL1 – 650 horsepower
  • 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee TrackHawk – 707 horsepower
  • Tesla S P 100D – 588 horsepower
  • 2018 Audi R8 V10 – 610 horsepower
  • 2019 Corvette ZR-1 755 horsepower
    • (We know it’s a 2019 but its available in the 2018 calendar year)

This is just a sampling of ‘obtainable’ cars. The average Joe, if financially equipped, can walk into the dealership and purchase one of these stupid-fast vehicles to and from the track or even to the grocery store if they are so inclined.

If you are one of the lucky few with a larger than normal checkbook and good connections you can perhaps choose from these truly special cars.

  • 2018 Ferrari 488GTB – 661 horsepower
  • 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S Coupe’ – 740 horsepower
  • 2018 Bugatti Chiron – 1,479 horsepower!
  • 2018 McLaren 720S – 710 horsepower
  • 2018 Ford GT – 647 horsepower

When is it going to be enough? How fast does one need to go? Do we need an SUV (Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk) that does 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds? Apparently we do because you can get one. Pretty soon one will need to be a fully trained race car driver just to pilot their Subaru Outback to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk.

Maybe that’s why they are working so diligently on the autonomous vehicles. But that is a topic for another day.

– Drew Nelson

Original vs Resto Mod – Which is Better?

As I sat and watched countless hours of the Mecum Monterey auction over the last few days I saw countless vehicles I would love to have in my own collection despite not having a seven-figure budget for that sort of investment. I also saw some I wouldn’t pay $2,000 for personally even though in the real world they were far more valuable. I even saw one car cross the block sold for half that amount.  A trend constantly growing in popularly is the ‘resto-mod.’ When seeing these heavily modified cars I wonder what might be more valuable. Completely original cars or “resto-mod” vehicles? Most  are sure to prefer one classification over the other. Of course, there are some like me who can appreciate each for their own unique attributes.

The differences between the two are as much as peas and carrots. Sure, they are both cars (peas and carrots are both vegetables as far as this writer knows) but that is about where the similarities stop. An ‘original’ car is exactly that. Original. Sure, it likely has new tires, brakes, exhaust systems and maybe even a new paint job. But for the most part it remains as it was born – with all its original parts.

A ‘resto-mod’ is far from it. They are based on a car of ones choosing but are then rebuilt using modern aftermarket parts. The result is a classic design blended with all the latest technologies, gadgets, safety features horsepower and other creature comforts one has come to expect from today’s higher end automobiles.

The cost to create such a custom vehicle can easily put you into the six-figure $$ range. As an example, when redoing a Blue Oval vehicle one might select a Ford Coyote engine. Released in 2011, the Coyote engine is the most recognized and common power plant for those seeking more horsepower in their resto-mod Ford. The cost for such an engine? $10,000 – $20,000 USD and that’s just for the engine! There is an awful lot of car left to build after one chooses the engine that is going to put power to the rear wheels.

One might think that a classic vehicle becomes the more logical choice from a dollar spent vs. dollar earned standpoint, and it certainly can be. However, keeping a vehicle in ‘original’ condition is not nearly as easy as it sounds. The hardest part? Not. Driving. It. Can you imagine putting a 2017 Dodge Demon in your garage only never to touch it with hopes of selling it in the future for a profit. That is some strong will power. Luckily for collectors, there are those out there who treat these rare beauties as nothing more than the investment potential they hopefully bring. Back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s it was not as common to think of and finding those are getting harder and harder to come by with each passing day. That or the cost is so astronomical that it takes them out of the average buyers price range.

Keeping a car in original condition does not mean one can simply park it and let it be, quite the contrary. They (the cars, not the buyers) must still be started from time to time to time, given a bath, have fluids changed, air put in the tires, parts both mechanical and electronic used to avoid seizure and ideally even be driven the occasional mile adding ticks to the odometer. Failure to do so might very well result in a very large paperweight with dust on it – and little value.

So which is the more fiscally responsible choice? It depends on who’s buying at that time on that day. It has and will likely continue to come down to preference. Some people like a classic look with modern technology, go-fast add ons, larger wheels and tires and of course more horsepower. ‘Resto-mod.’ Others, the purists if you will,  prefer their collector cars  with the same design and function as the day they rolled off the assembly line at the factory. Lucky for us, we can personalize our cars (or not) to our exact liking. For every one car, there are 100’s if not 1000’s of replacement/ upgrade parts available. But when decides to go the resto-mod route, a builder/designer/owner must also hope that there is at least one like-minded individual out there when it comes time to sell the result of their efforts to its next owner. After all, not everyone likes pink flames on the front fenders and hood.

– Drew Nelson