EVERY year, Las Vegas hosts a trade show with a difference. The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) event is the world’s biggest and wildest modified car show, and 2016’s gathering opened its doors last week. While the aim is for aftemarket specialists and tuners to buy and sell their latest products, the diversity of vehicles on display is unlike anything you’ll see at traditional motor shows such as Paris, Geneva or even Los Angeles.
As always, there was a strong presence from US makers, but this year Hyundai, Kia and Toyota (among others) had a big impact on the show floors.
That meant the usual huge pick-ups and tuned muscle cars were joined by modified and not-for-production concept versions of cars sold over here. There was a number of extreme Fords at SEMA, with performance specialist Roush grabbing headlines with a 493bhp version of the new focus RS.
The Fiesta ST also had its engine output doubled by Tucci Hot Rods. Other hardcore versions of familiar models included a Kia Sorento with caterpillar trades (below), a Lexus LC 500 featuring custom bodywork and yellow paint, and a bonkers 1,025bhp Hyundai Santa Fe. Here’s our round -up of the most important manufacturer debuts at the show.
NSX GT3 – HONDA’S luxury US sub-brand Acura used the S E MA show to reveal its GT3 racing version of the new NSX. It uses the regular 4WD car’s 3.5-litre V6 hybrid, but has a six-speed sequential transmission and rear-wheel drive. It was displayed on a custom trailer pulled by the 2017 version of the not-for- Britain MDX SUV.
HYUNDAI SANTA FE – JAPANESE tuner Bismoto took the humble Santa Fe family SUV and gave it a monstrous 1,025bhp from a heavily modified twin-turbo 3.8-litreV6. This is fed through the rear wheels only, and with race-inspired livery and lowered suspension, the car is dubbed the ‘Santa East’.
TOYOTA PRIUS G – Produced in conjunction with designer Gordon Ting, it has race-inspired bodywork and chassis tweaks that ensure it’s capable of nearly 1G on a s kid pan – about the same as a Nissan GT- R.
TESLA MODEL X – TESLA’S Model X electric SUV hasn’t been around for long, but Californian tuner Unplugged Performance has already given it a makeover. An aerodynamic body kit, 2 2-inch alloy wheels and six-piston carbon-ceramic brakes all feature, although Tesla’s own Ludicrous drive mode remains intact.
LEXUS LC 500 – DESIGNER Gordon Ting also had a hand in this modified Lexus LC 500 – the world’s first. We don’t drive the regular car until December, but Ting’s version gets custom bodywork, hydraulic suspension and a race-spec roll cage. The 4.7-litre V8 has also been bored out to 5.6 litres, for 525bhp.
FORD FIESTA ST – A PLETHORA of fast Fords was on display at SEMA, but these super-hot hatches were the most interesting. The four-wheel-drive Focus RS has been worked on by Roush Performance to up power from 345bhp to 493bhp. A feistier Fiesta ST, created by Dorn Tucci design, featured bespoke bodywork and a host of performance upgrades
MAZDA SPEEDSTER EVOLUTION – MAZDA revived and upgraded its MX-5 Speedster concept from last year’s SEMA show for 2016. As well as a fresh coat of matt white paint, the roofless roadster benefits from another 45leg weight saving, to bring it down to just over 900kg; that’s around 113kg less than the standard production model. Smaller brakes (as the car weighs less), a carved-out dashboard with digital instruments and a new centre-exit exhaust are the key factors in the Speedster Evolution’s weight loss.