SEMA 2012 Recap

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What could be more interesting than Halloween in Las Vegas? For a week at the beginning of November (and in the case of this year end of October), the Las Vegas Convention Center is home to the biggest convention in the car world. SEMA is where all of the aftermarket parts companies and vehicle manufacturers meet to show off all of their new products for next year. SEMA is like the mullet of our community. Strictly business all day – and a little too much partying all night. It’s where everything you’ve worked for all year long culminates, and it’s where you go to blow off steam for all of that hard work. It’s where top notch car designers and builders will debut that one project they’ve been working on all year. But it’s also where internet sensation car designers will debut 5 cars they built over the course of 3 months that include all of the same bolt-ons as last year’s cars. SEMA is exactly what Las Vegas is – a place that walks that thin line between amazing and corny.Yet as car builders and car enthusiasts, it’s all we think about for months leading up to the event.

For us it’s all about seeing friends that we don’t normally get the chance to see. And it’s about walking into The Hundreds store and having them ask about the LowLifes hat that one of the homies is wearing. Sure we take on a meeting or two. But for the most part we just wanna spend some time with our friends from different parts of the country – and meet interesting people from all over the world that help shake up the automotive scene. It’s cool to hear their stories of how their projects came together or what inspired them to do the things they did. And in the end, it’s funny to see that we’re all not really that different as we share our similar stories with them. This year we had the opportunity to meet up with Matt Squeaky Clean Makarucha, a friend of ours from the great state of Canada! (haha). After inviting him down to the States for our Carlisle Performance & Style Dirty Stancing event, we kept in touch and even teamed up in some form on an epic car build. We had left the east coast in a frenzy thanks to Hurricane Sandy, without some essential items for a trip to SEMA – like a good camera. So we kindly asked Matt if he would shoot the show and share his pictures with our readers. Thanks Matt!

Each year at SEMA, there is one big car that dominates the showfloors, hallways, and front parking lot. This year that car was the Scion FR-S. We saw this coming, as we had heard from Scion’s marketing people early on that they intended on flooding this year’s SEMA show with their newest sports car. There were at least 40-50 FR-S’s on display, including 8 in Scion’s booth alone. In addition, Scion invited 50 FR-S drivers to roadtrip it up from SoCal to Vegas on Wednesday to catch the press event in their booth. SEMA named the FR-S Hottest Sport Compact of the year.

All of this in addition to the annual Scion Tuner Challenge competition, which is normally enough to make the Scion booth a main attraction of the show on its own.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that you were hoping to see some other cars at SEMA, aside from the Scion FR-S. No worries, there was plenty of other cool stuff on display. Some of these SEMA cars spoke to our tastes.

We were super excited to see this clean MK3 on display out front.

The Ford booth always has some excitement to offer – especially since they partner with a lot of the top drift and rally cross drivers.

But our favorite Ford this year wasn’t designed by a race car driver at all. It was designed by another friend of ours, Aaron Vaccar. His Focus sported a huge turbo that most of the SEMA show-goers didn’t get to see because the hood was closed for most of the week. Congrats to Aaron on another successful year.

Hyundai has been coming strong the past few years. Yes, you read that right. We think the Fuel Culture Genesis Coupe was insane! But we were pretty sure that climbing up the big display to actually get a good look at the car might get us escorted out of the show.

Speaking of displays that had nothing to do with a Scion FR-S, SEMA was all about shock and awe for Chris Rado, RADO Designs, and the WORLD Motorsports crew- who’ve unveiled a completely new direction for 2013. I think you’d call this moving up in the world. They were sporting their signature black on black Darth Vader look, but this time with some AMG Benzo’s and a BMW. This AMG SLS features an insane prototype bi-turbo set-up that they’ve been developing over the past few months.

Between the DUB display and all the giant chrome wheel manufacturers, there are always a lot of exotic cars on display at SEMA. Occasionally some of them are cool. Most we would rather just have in stock form, though.

Another favorite attraction of SEMA… Booth girls! And the creepers who swarm around them to snap photos are often just as entertaining.

Year after year however, the big picture becomes clear to us. A good bit of our generation is moving in the right direction, stepping up the level of detail and expertise in their builds. But there is still much ground to cover. Take one look at some of these classics and you’ll see that the bolt-on, vinyl wrapped, race car look of the current import fan boys is just not up to par with some of the car scene’s veteran builders.

You could walk the show all day long for all four of it’s scheduled days and still not see every car and every booth, so we didn’t even try. Thankfully Matt did! Check out the rest of his photos. Until next year’s SEMA event, keep on Livin’ the LowLife… and keep it Squeaky Clean!