As one organizer described it, the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas is like 'a big boy's toy store.' This year's event, sponsored by the Specialty Equipment Market Association, was bigger than ever.
This year, two trends were evident. Automakers continue to blur the boundaries between cars and trucks. If the Plymouth Prowler can have a pickup bed, then any car can have a pickup bed.
The other trend is taking place inside the vehicle. Automakers and aftermarket suppliers are jamming onboard PCs, navigators, VCRs and anything else they can think of into the once-humble dashboard.
This concept Ford Mustang FR500 and its 415-hp engine is a showcase for Ford's Performance Racing Parts program. The stock Mustange Cobra 4.6-liter multivalve V-8 is bored out to 5.0-liters. The car also features a composite driveshaft connected to 18-inch rear wheels. The unique front double-A arm suspension incorporates parts from the Lincoln LS.
Onboard e-mail is not just for executives. Carpenters and other tradesmen who buy GMC Sierras like this might find it useful. This concept truck comes equipped with an Internet link, plus a generator capable of producing 5,000 watts of electricity at 120 or 240 volts.
A Prowler pickup? Why not - anything goes at SEMA. DaimlerChrysler dropped a 4.7-liter V-8 from a Jeep Grand Cherokee and an engine-mounted 5-speed manual transmission into a Plymouth Prowler to create the Howler concept. The engine swap freed up room behind the seats, which normally houses the stock Prowler's tranny. The extra room was converted to a pickup-style cargo bed.
DaimlerChrysler turned a Las Vegas Hilton ballroom into a vintage drive-in theater, complete with historic Chrysler products from the '40s, '50s and '60s. Journalists sat on lawn chairs and munched hamburgers and corn dogs while DaimlerChrysler chief designer Tom Gale showed off the GT Cruiser and Plymouth Howler concept.