Every year companies do their best to grab attention at the SEMA Show. With 100,000 people and seemingly almost as many vehicles, getting attention at the annual show held in Las Vegas can be difficult. The attention-seeking can take the form of chromed-out show trucks, hot rods, concept vehicles, exotic cars, import cars, and scantily clad women. Occasionally there are even well-built off-road vehicles. It was these that we were searching for as we worked our way through trucks with air horns and massive wheels. Thankfully, we found them. Here are our ten favorite vehicles from the show, in no particular order.
Roadster Shop’s 1969 Ford Bronco
Ford Broncos were a hot commodity at the SEMA Show this year in anticipation of Ford releasing their new version of the classic 4×4. The most insane one we saw was this 1969 Bronco from the Roadster Shop. It has their chassis under it, which uses independent front suspension and trailing arms with Fox coilovers and bypass shocks. Under the hood, a stroked EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 engine makes a whole lot of power. We can only imagine what a handful this thing is with the 90-inch wheelbase. And it is a total sleeper with patina blue paint and a white top.
Larry McRae’s Jeep LJ
Larry McRae’s sweet Jeep LJ was in the Optima Batteries booth. This is everything we like in a rock crawler. It’s low slung, has huge 42-inch BFGoodrich Krawlers, and uses one-ton Currie Enterprises Rock Jock axles. The Jeep has a host of Poison Spyder Customs armor on it from the BFH front bumper, DeFender high line fenders, Rocker Knockers, and BFH rear bumper. Perhaps the best part is that it proudly wore scratches from running many of the most challenging trails in the country.
Jesse James’ 1957 Chevy Cameo
There are a lot of celebrity cars at SEMA. But most are just owned by celebrities, not built by them. Jesse James built this 1957 Chevy Cameo into a retro desert racer. It has a rowdy LS7 engine with Holley fuel management, center-mounted A-arms in the front, trailing arms in the back with King shocks, and Toyo Open Country M/T tires. A sPod switch panel controls the Baja Designs LED lights, fluid coolers, and more. Our favorite feature was the pie cut and TIG welded exhaust that was a complete work of art and must have taken hours to build.
Fab Fours’ Gladiator
The new Jeep Gladiator was by far the most popular vehicle at the show, so we weren’t surprised to see one in the Fab Fours‘ booth. Usually, Fab Fours has over-the-top vehicles like the Legend 2.WOAH with 46-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claws or the Cummins-powered Kymera. Fab Fours’ Jeep truck had their production bumpers, tube doors, and high clearance fenders with 40-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Boss tires. On the bed of the truck was Fab Fours’ new Overland Rack. It held Decked drawers, topped with a CargoGlide slider, Smittybilt freezer fridge, air compressor, and a generator under a Smittybilt rooftop tent.
Diesel Brothers’ Ford F-550
The Diesel Brothers are known for building completely over-the-top trucks. They didn’t disappoint with this massive Ford F-550 in the Smittybilt booth. On it were tracks from SMCO in place of the normal 6×6, 40-inch tires. The Ford has a custom bed that holds two Polaris quads, that also came with tracks. And out back? A scooter fitted with tracks! The front of the truck had a color-matched Smittybilt bumper showcasing their new Gen3 XRC winch.
MaxBilt Off-Road 1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer
MaxBilt Off-Road built this clean 1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer for Crown Automotive and topped it with a wooden canoe to match the graphics on the side. The full-size Jeep still retains the original 360 engine, TorqueFlight transmission, and Quadratrac transfer case. A 4-inch Skyjacker suspension lift makes room for 33-inch tires on the factory Jeep wheels. And, the interior was just as clean as the exterior. At a show filled with over-the-top show trucks, this clean Grand Wagoneer was a clear fan favorite.
Vice Unlimited Trophy T
Rat rods have given way to rat trucks and rat buggies. This one, dubbed the Trophy T by Tim Odell of Vice Unlimited, has racecar underpinnings with classic sheet metal from a 1946 Diamond T 404. There is a turbocharged GM LQ4 engine in the back that feeds power to a 4L80E automatic transmission and an NP 205 transfer case. Hummer portal boxes increase ground clearance in the front and reverse the direction of rotation to account for the rear engine. In the back, the 14 Bolt axle was flipped and Odell added a custom oiling system to account for this. These are just a few of the tricks on this totally custom rig that can haul or crawl.
Kingston Part Supply Chevy
Square body Chevy trucks are gaining popularity. Unfortunately, most of them at the SEMA Show were slammed to the ground. This tastefully built truck from Kingston Part Supply has a custom frame. It is fitted with coilovers and radius arms up front on a Currie Enterprises high-pinion Dana 44. Out back, cantilever coilovers allow full use of the bed and provide 18 inches of wheel travel with a Currie 9-inch axle. The truck needs a lot of suspension since the LS3 engine under the hood uses twin turbos to get it moving in a hurry.
Peter Verboom’s 1955 Chevy 3100
Peter Verboom first built his 1955 Chevy 3100 nearly 20 years ago using Baja Designs’ Soltek HID lights. Now, it is showcasing the company’s latest LP4, LP6, and LP9 LED lights. Under the hood, a 454 big block feeds power through a TH400 transmission to Dana 60 axles. The front uses push-pull steering with the steering box mounted on the same plane as the front suspension to eliminate bump steer. The classic truck looks so good it is hard to believe that it spends nearly every weekend in the dunes getting airborne.
ARB Ford Ranger
There weren’t as many Ford Rangers at Gladiators at the SEMA Show, but the truck was still well represented. ARB is one company that is going all-in on the Ranger platform. They are banking that many of the parts will cross over to the new Bronco when it is released. Their Ranger features ARB’s Summit front bumper, side steps, and rear bumper. Other Ranger-specific products include the ARB Air Locker in the rear and the Old Man Emu suspension. ARB also outfitted the Ford with their drawers, awning, Elements freezer fridge, and LINX electronic accessory controller.