Spread out over one million square feet within the Las Vegas Convention Center, the SEMA Show, is an overwhelming display of everything automotive. The hot rod and custom halls were brimming with activity–not to mention some unbelievable cars and cool new products. With an estimated 130,000+ people on hand, photographing any of the cars wasn’t easy, but we did manage to click off a few shots and wanted to share them with you here.
After spending the entire week checking out the latest and greatest our industry has to offer, we walked away pretty excited by the products we saw, the cars being built, and the general level of enthusiasm and activity within this hobby. It’s hard to believe what began as a small group of hot rodders over 50 years ago has grown into the thriving aftermarket it is today. But when you stop and talk with the vendors, you quickly realize this is still a grass roots hobby filled with individuals and companies who share a genuine passion for the sport.
Smitty Smith is the Technical Sales Coordinator for Edelbrock and a hot rodder to the core. After considering a number of different cars for their booth, Edelbrock decided Smitty’s ’37 Ford pickup said all there was to say. It’s a simple, clean little hot rod with a perfectly lowered stance and a stout 383-inch smallblock Chevy loaded, of course, with all sorts of Edelbrock equipment.
Racer, hot rodder, and collector Bruce Canepa teamed up with Steve Moal for his latest project, a chopped Deuce Fordor that was featured in the Dynamat booth. In addition to the chop, the sheet metal was extensively–but subtly–modified from end to end, and a Gurney Weslake V8 and trick suspension lie beneath.
James Hetfield and Rick Dore’s Black Pearl has been making its rounds all year, and following an appearance at The Rodder’s Journal Revival it was on the show floor at SEMA. This was the first year for SEMA’s “Battle of the Builders” competition, and Rick earned a spot in the top 10 out of over 125 entrants. The Pearl is a stunning example of modern coachbuilding and looks fantastic in any setting.
On display in the DEI booth was Jerry Magnuson’s latest project, the TrackMaster T. Combining his rodding and Indy racing background, Jerry and his team have designed a track nose hot rod that wraps racecar performance in a traditionally inspired package. And with a 525hp LS3 tucked into a 1,600-pound car, it’s sure to be a lot of fun on the road–or the track. We enjoyed checking out the hand-formed body in baremetal, though Jerry also has also completed a painted, upholstered, and fully operational model as well.
We always enjoy catching up with Kenny Gollahon and the crew at Brookville Roadster. They had a great collection of full fendered roadster pickups, highboy roadsters, and competition cars on display to show off their extensive line of reproduction sheet metal and complete bodies.
OPGI has long been known for their extensive line of muscle car restoration parts, but they’ve also been expanding their offerings for ’50s and ’60s GMs, which should interest many in the custom camp. On display in their booth was this impeccably restored ’63 Cadillac Coupe de Ville which was one of a very small number that came from the factory with Eldorado trim specifications.
Axalta Coating Systems had an eye-popping display showing off their full line of automotive paints. It seemed like every time we walked by there was something going on, including a pinstriping panel jam at one point. We liked the wildly panel painted Impala against the more subtle (but equally impressive) Deuce Fordor owned by Don Smith from Mansfield, Texas. The Sedan won the Mothers Polishes Shine award.
Although we didn’t catch up with Ford’s Jim Farley at the show, his Dave Simard-built Deuce highboy looked great in the NSRA booth. As always, Ford Motor Company had an impressive display of their own where we got our first look at the 2015 Mustangs, among other new offerings.
One of the latest projects rolling through So-Cal Speed Shop is this wild ’34 Ford three-window being built for consummate hot rodder, Billy F. Gibbons. The coupe sports a number of unique features, like the retractable headlight poking through the hood and the aggressively wedge-chopped top.
We kicked off our week at SEMA with the Tuesday morning unveiling of United Pacific’s recently completed chopped Deuce five-window. The car was built for company president Major Lin from one of their new reproduction ’32 five-window bodies. Roy Brizio Street Rods handled the build, which features an Edelbrock crate smallblock Ford. We photographed the coupe in baremetal for a full feature in the upcoming TRJ #65.
While visiting our friends at ARP Fasteners, we ran into hot rod and motorcycle builder Bryan Fuller who took us next door to check out his latest endeavor in the Jet-Hot booth. The four-wheel-drive super car features two quickchanges, a Jon Kaase-built Boss 429, and an incredible tubular framework that is built to withstand any competition scenario the Jet-Hot team decides to throw it into.
We’re familiar with Baileigh Industrial’s line of professional and hobbyist metal shop equipment, but this was the first opportunity we had to check out their new, monstrous power hammer (seen looming in the background behind the English Wheel). Designer Chris Rusch talked with us for quite a while about the company’s history and his own scratch-built cars. We’ll have more extensive coverage on this impressive machine in the near future.
Although this isn’t typical Rodder’s Journal material, we were really impressed with Steve Strope’s latest, the “Black Ops” ’67 Ford Fairlane. The car was designed as if Ford’s R&D team was allowed to pull out all the stops for the ’67 racing season, and what resulted was this Cammer-powered hauler. Steve also earned a Battle of the Builders Top10 for his efforts.