To be plain, the SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada is huge. Much, much larger than you can imagine, if you’ve never had the experience of attending. The Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Association covers nearly the entire scope of the 4-wheeled industry in the US and beyond.
Every November, everything from Domestics to Imports, Track to Street, Concept to Custom descends on Las Vegas for a weeklong show that is literally…epic. The several massive buildings of the Las Vegas Convention Center and acres of outdoor parking contained more builds of all types than you could possibly take in.
This personally being my first time to the show was definitely an exercise in patience. You can compare it to walking through 15 Costcos, with three massive main indoor floors and a second floor, not to mention the multiple outdoor lots packed with demonstrations and show cars. Seemingly every end to each building corridor led to another packed with another diamond build to search for.
Making SEMA show an important milestone for me, was also being fortunate enough to be a part of the show. As part of the Vortech Supercharger booth, I helped a friend with building a Scion FR-S for his company, ERA-1. With a Rocket Bunny widebody kit covered in lime green paint, super deep Rotiforms and air-ride to tuck things into place, it had a look that stood out in the massive field of FR-S in attendance.
Luckily for us, 2013 was a year that included a powerful presence from some of Japan’s best. Liberty Walk, TRA Kyoto and Rauh-Welt had some of the most revered cars of the show. Also of note was the Scion FR-S easily taking the SEMA Award for hottest Sport Compact model of the show.
Liberty Walk, or LB Performance had a diverse team, with monsters from several different makes spread all over the show. Early examples of LB cars were not that dope to me, built around the slightly gaudy-JDM style that many never want to see imported to the US. The car that started to change my mind about LB was the E92 M3 they built last year, athletic lines, no gaudy accents and a stance that was torn between street and full-blown GT car.
Leading up to the show, I was drooling over pics of the latest LB creation: The 458 Italia. This car was incredibly beautiful, something you must see in person to truly appreciate.
Having to share the spotlight with the supermodel LB Works Italia as an all-business R35 GT-R, beautifully coated in a similar metallic grey paint.
Second to LB Works’ crowd drawing skills, was Akira Nakai and his RWB team. Two examples I was lucky to see in person were Mr. Nakai’s duck tail 930 and my personal favorite of the show, RWB “Catalina”. A 993 wide-body that has the look of a masterpiece in metallic wine-red and carbon accents. Can’t wait to see this car again in person.
Virtually killing the FR-S market is TRA Kyoto, with two versions of it’s Rocket Bunny kit for the hot FR coupe. These widebody FR-S’ were definitely a star of SEMA, with one hiding around every corner at the show, even our ERA-1 FR-S had one! I stopped counting them after seeing 20.
The beauty of SEMA is that it is a trade show, with businesses looking to impress new potential partners with what they’ve built. A gem in the back of the show was the new product showcase, with new technology like roller barrel throttle bodies and sequential-shifting transmissions for your GT-R, that area alone took up half of one of my days. SEMA 2013 was a year with a huge Japanese car presence and 2014 will no doubt be a year to look forward to with even more amazing builds from Japan.
More photos here: FootWork Magazine