It’s time for the eagerly-awaited SEMA Show 2023. The Fast Car team is in Vegas. And over the next few days, we’ll bring you all the best bits SEMA 2023 has to offer!
SEMA show is the main event when it comes to car modifications and the ultimate in customization and performance. It’s the premier stage for all the biggest and best names in the car (and truck!) world. Therefore, SEMA always produces jaw-dropping builds, groundbreaking products, and exciting innovations the industry has to offer. Stay tuned as we bring you regular updates online and across our social channels throughout the entire event.
Prefer to watch reports rather than read them? Fair enough. Have a gander at our full 2023 SEMA show report over on YouTube!
The SEMA Show, as you’ll already know, is absolutely massive. This is why – after many years of attending this event – we always go in there with a plan… before inevitably it all goes out of the window.
Now, we’ll let you in on a little secret about how all this works. Every year we look at what’s coming up. We scrutinize the listings and map out who we’re going to make a beeline for on day one. What are the top cars we need to check out? Which new products are being launched? Are Gas Monkey Garage ever going to let us see that electric Ferrari? And then off to Las Vegas we go, all happy with our little plan in our proverbial back pocket. But then, no sooner do we step off the Las Vegas Monorail at the Convention Centre, do we get completely side-tracked by all the other awesome stuff going on.
The truth is that you’re never going to see it all on the first day. And if you do, you’re kinda of missing the point. The reason that SEMA is a 4-day event is because it has to be. Any less and there will be too much rushing and not enough appreciating some of the finest automotive offerings on the planet.
But what was first to catch our eye this time around?
Well, it was impossible to ignore the noise (not to mention more than a little smoke) coming from the Hoonigan Burnyard.
Hoonigan were big at SEMA 2022 there’s no doubt about that, but this year their display was even more enormous. A whole outside arena situated pride of place and crammed with some of the craziest cars we’ve seen at any show, ever. These included not just a selection of mad motorsport and street builds finished just in time for this very show. But some seriously famous crowd pleasers, too. Not least Ken Block’s Hoonigan Mustang and Pikes Peak Porsche, along with Travis Pastrana’s skid-tastic Subaru wagon.
Right at the centre of all this modified car royalty though, was the Hoonigan Burnyard. This is exactly what it says on the tin… an area in which to destroy rubber in a selection of weird and wonderful vehicles. The huge crowd says it all here, and we have no doubt we’ll be bringing you plenty more of these rather hardcore shenanigans as the week goes on.
There is of course, one place that we always head to on day one regardless, and that’s the Toyo Tires Treadpass. It’s right here where you’re guaranteed to see a selection of the very best builds and, as always, they didn’t disappoint. There’s a whole lot to love here, they always draft in some of the most amazing cars of the whole show.
The variety too, is immense. This year there’s everything from a full Kevlar bodied Porsche 356 (oh yeah, and this one also had a Honda K20 engine in the back), to Liberty Walk’s brand new Super Silhouette Mazda RX-7. It’s quite literally a story of modded Sierras and customized supercars.
That said, one of our absolute favorites has to be this BMW Z4 GT3, a genuine space-framed racecar that’s had the original V8 junked and replaced with a whopping 1500bhp Mercedes V12. Oh, and just for good measure, they’ve strapped on a massive supercharger, too. You’ll be seeing more of this one on our YouTube channel over the next few days.
Air Lift Performance
One of the other places you’re always guaranteed to see the sauciest cars is the Air Lift Performance stand. This year the iconic brand celebrates 75 years in the air ride business with a slick display of some of the most talked-about cars and trucks of the show. It’s not every day you see a wide-arched DMC 12 for starters, right? This one may be a little on the Marmite side, but yes, we can’t help but absolutely love ‘Bagged To The Future’.
More to come…
And of course, that’s by no means everything we saw today. Check out the gallery of just a few of our favorites at the bottom of this page. And rest assured that we’ll be bringing you plenty more over the next three days as we root out the best cars from all around this huge event. Just keep checking back here to see much more over the course of the week.
In the meantime we’ll take advantage of perhaps SEMA’s biggest asset – when the show’s over at 5pm you’re still right in the middle of Las Vegas! So, we’re off for a beer, and we’ll catch you for tomorrow’s update.
Day Two – Return of the Burnyard
We promised you more Hoonigan Burnyard shenanigans, so guess what we started day two with…
It says a lot about the sort of folks that Hoonigan are that this picture is just here to give you an idea of the warm-up acts! On any other day, at any other car event, a beautifully executed drift while sticking one hand out the window would be enough to top the headlines. But just wait ’til you see what happened next…
This E36 drift machine started the morning off looking rather pristine, but someone must’ve put magnets in these concrete blockades with the amount of drift tapping that was going on. The beemer’s bumpers weren’t too happy about this in the end, and it wouldn’t be the only car to leave the ring needing some TLC…
Speaking of which, check out the rear end of this white Foxbody. As the show host said, “if your car leaves the Burnyard 5 inches shorter, you know you’ve done something right!”
Sometimes one set of screaming tires just isn’t enough though, and these two pick-ups put on an epic tandem display to show exactly how much havoc you can create as a double act. Again, a trip to the body shop is on the cards though.
If you thought pickup trucks were a slightly left-field choice of for a drift tandem, how about taking a donk into the ring? Yep, trust me, it is in that cloud of smoke somewhere, though I am mildly concerned that my lungs might now have a tread pattern.
Truth be told, there’s far too much going on at the Hoonigan Burnyard for me to cover it all here, but I’ll end on this – one of the absolute showstopper performances out there today from an obscure Chevy truck. Look closely and you can see our videographer Joe on the receiving end of a cloud of rubber debris. What you can’t see, however, is the fact that poor old Jules was directly in front of this maniac and ended up with the rubber-stricken forehead to prove it. Keep an eye out on Fast Car socials for some epic video content from the ringside.
Tools, Equipment & Paint Halls
A slight change of pace next as we checked out a big part of what SEMA is all about – automotive products. But don’t worry, instead of boring you with a list of new buffer pads, I’ve picked out some of the coolest stand designs that I came across in the far end of the convention center.
Ever seen a live demonstration of automated buffing/panel repair? Nope, neither had I, but the folks at Pro Spot rolled out this cool rig to demonstrate their automotive metalwork services.
Despite sounding like an evil sci-fi corporation, The Quantum Machinery Group doesn’t make deadly robots like this fella. Instead, they make metalworking machinery and welding tables. Not quite as exciting as the whole robot thing, but hopefully less damning for the fate of humanity.
One sure-fire way to grab people’s attention is by using cool modified cars (or in this case, pickups) as demonstrators. Zendex certainly got the message, so if you’re in the market for a new heavy-duty air jack, you know who to call.
Right then, that’s day two wrapped up. But fret not, we’ll be back tomorrow, and this time, we’re re-focusing our attention back on the main stars of SEMA – the show cars. And I tell you what, there’s more than a few newsworthy motors here…
Day Three – Racing & Performance Hall
On the third day of SEMA, I wanted to soak in as much of the Racing and Performance exhibits as possible, and let me tell you, there’s a lot to see. I won’t include all of it here because frankly this article would go on forever, but here are some of the highlights that stood out to me.
As far as brand reputations go, HKS is as big as it gets in the aftermarket tuning scene, so where better to start than with them? This year, the HKS oil splash backdrop towered over a selection of the company’s latest demonstrator cars, including a Nissan Z and Toyota GR Corolla.
On the other end of the genre scale, next door to HKS is where you would find Ruffian Motors – masters of rowdy muscle car builds like this Ford Galaxie.
Seibon and Anderson Composites are both great sources of carbon body panels for all sorts of models. What do you prefer – the more restrained approach of this Seibon FL5 Civic, or the full-on, full-body style of the Anderson C8 Corvette?
High-end aftermarket wheel manufacturer, Vorsteiner, had a quartet of classy demonstrators on show. This E46 M3 stood above the others in my eyes.
If you think you haven’t seen this car before, you’re wrong. Underneath that Valvoline livery is the yellow P1 that we all saw float away in a flood on social media. Thankfully, Tavarish has saved it from an untimely death, reincarnating it as something entirely new and documenting the whole process for us all to see on YouTube.
It’s not just YouTubers and aftermarket brands that roll up to SEMA though. We’ve got some proper OEM action here too. Stellantis were meant to show up with the Dodge/MOPAR brand but that idea was sadly binned. Thankfully, Toyota and Lexus have made up for it with a whole floor of show space taken up by cool cars and trucks – some stock, some very much not. Take the Tundra X-Runner pictured above, for example. This thing’s running on a 3-inch wider track and lowered air suspension, and has the TRD spec, 421hp V6. The FJ Bruiser concept is arguably the most notable car on the Toyota display though, so read about it in full here. To see what their compatriots are up to, check out Nissan’s full roster of SEMA cars as well.
A final thought for today: RC cars are just cool, it’s a simple as that. I mean, check out the drift form on that GR Yaris!
Anyway, we’ll have yet more content coming your way tomorrow, so we’ll see you again shortly. In the meantime, scroll down to look through the freshly-updated picture gallery!
The end is nigh! With just one day left of SEMA 2023, there was still plenty for the Fast Car team to explore. But in keeping with the end of school vibes, I’m gonna keep structure to a minimum in this final chapter. After all, you’re just here to look at cool cars, right? Here are some of the best that we stumbled across today:
This green modified Ferrari F40 was one of the prettiest cars of the whole show. But its beauty is more than just skin deep. If you want to know more, have a read of this link.
If you prefer your supercars to have more of a modern flavor, you might enjoy reading about Alex Choi’s McLaren 720S instead.
As far as crazy ideas go, it’s pretty hard to beat a car with two engines. This tubular-frame 350Z has got a K24 engine at either end of its chassis, but only one gear shifter. Get your head around that…
Sticking with the slightly wacky theme, it’s easy to see why this Nash Metropolitan won last year’s Hot Wheels Legends Tour.
Two very different ways of building a Camaro. Which style of concept do you prefer?
Hold up… is underglow making a comeback?!
One of the best-looking FC RX-7s I’ve seen in a while.
A Midnight Purple Nissan Skyline R34. That’s all that needs to be said.
Something for the Euro fans. When was the last time you saw an E30 that looked this mean?
Baby blue Porsche Carrera GT? Yes please.
Ah yes, the Jeep Wrangler RubiCondo. The folks at Quake LED clearly have a sense of humor.
Was nice of Chris Forsberg to drop by, even though he stood dead still and wasn’t very chatty. Racing drivers, eh.
Oh, and if you still want more SEMA content check out our compilation of the best cars from the entire show!
Anyway, with the four days done and dusted, it does beg the question: what happens when it’s time for all these motors to go home? Well, the answer is something called the Roll Out, and it’s quite a spectacle. Keep your eyes glued to Fast Car social channels to get a glimpse from the front line…
Words by Midge Burr & James Bowers.