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Highlights of the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas

SEMA is the United Nations conference of all things aftermarket, and here’s some of the best stuff we spotted there.

1.Quintin Brothers Dodge Challenger

This 1000-hp Dodge Challenger went on a wild adventure after it arrived in Las Vegas. Vermont-based Quintin Brothers Auto & Performance had their truck and trailer stolen days before the show. Their custom Challenger was inside. Video surveillance helped track down the perp, but when Nevada state trooper Adam Whitmarsh tried to block the stolen Challenger into a parking space, the suspect rammed the Trooper’s Ford Explorer and escaped. After exiting the parking structure, the suspect smashed through a fence and drove the stolen Challenger across a nearby karting track—during a karting event. He eventually ditched the car and was later arrested. The Quintin Brothers and their Dodge Challenger arrived at the SEMA show wearing battle wounds from the wild chase.

2. Chevrolet E-10 Concept

It’s not an engine, it’s a motor. The Chevrolet E-10 concept is a 450-hp electrified C-10 pickup. Typically the only time a 1970s Chevy pickup is plugged into anything, it’s connected to a trickle charger. The E-10 has its batteries in the bed. The two electric motors seen here are called eCrate motors, a nod to the popular Chevy crate engines that can be found swapped into just about anything. GM claims the E-10 can complete a zero-to-60-mph run in about five seconds with a quarter-mile time in the high 13s. A Tesla P100D might be quicker, but it doesn’t look as cool.

3. Vibrant Performance Titanium Chair

Had Game of Thrones producers used Nissan Skylines or Toyota Supras instead of dragons as source material, this might be the Iron Throne. Vibrant Performance didn’t have to vanquish their enemies to build the thing, but they did use more than 50 pieces from their lineup of titanium exhaust products to construct what’s likely the most uncomfortable Adirondack chair on the porch. But it’s fun. Feeling exhausted? Have a seat.


4. Hyundai Veloster Grappler Concept

You’re unlikely to see a Hyundai Veloster on an off-road trail, let alone a dirt road, but this overland concept is out to change that. The Veloster Grappler concept is equipped with typical in-car camping accessories like a rear-hatch tent, solar panels, LED light bars, big all-terrain tires, and a roof basket to carry a spare. It’s still pretty low to the ground, and the tire clearance isn’t ideal for crawling, but it’s a concept. We’d pitch a tent with this thing.

5. Toyota Supra Wasabi Concept

Toyota’s Genuine Accessory Team cooked up a color for this concept that we hope will soon find its way onto a Camry. This Supra’s paint mimics wasabi paste and features white accents on the brake calipers, mirrors, stripes, and spoiler. The forged-aluminum wheels were designed at Toyota and have center caps with the original Toyota emblem. Ohlins coil-overs drop the Supra concept two inches. This was one of many Toyota Supras at the show.

6. AEV Jeep Gladiator

This Jeep Gladiator is equipped with all the proper get-dirty-quick gear. It has tough Bilstein dampers, a lifted suspension, and 37-inch tires. American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) is known for swapping big engines into off-road vehicles and then adding lift kits and other off-road accessories. They’re also responsible for the coolest parts of the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison. This year AEV brought three green machines to show off their latest accessories.

7. 1999 Honda Civic Si Super Street Build

Was this the car that sparked the movie The Fast and the Furious in 2001? It sure looks like it. Honda brought a handful of concepts to the show in celebration of its 60th year in North America, and what better way to do it by showcasing the Civic Si Super Street magazine modified for the Civic Si Challenge in 2000. If you collected buckets of Mattel die-cast cars as a kid (or shamelessly as adults, like us), this car might look familiar.

8. Nissan Frontier Desert Runner

The current-gen Nissan Frontier might be 16 years old, but this concept proves that Nissan knows what people at SEMA want in a truck: tons of suspension, awesome off-road tires, some type of light bar, and a 600-hp 5.8-liter V-8. In the meantime, we can only hope one of these ingredients get put to use on the upcoming Frontier refresh.

9. RTR Rambler Ford Ranger Concept

The RTR Rambler Ford Ranger does everything right without going too far. Ford chose 33-inch Nitto Ridge Grappler tires with custom RTR Tech 6 wheels, because they know anything bigger than that will be unnecessary in most cases. Three LED light bars are tastefully tucked into a custom front grille to complete an almost Ranger Raptor–like appearance. A two-inch suspension lift is installed as well as heavy-duty rock sliders, which act as both a step and as extra protection against rocky terrain. It’s a simple package done well, saving the flashy stuff like wild paint for the Insta-campers.

10. 1972 Honda N600

If it looks like this 1972 Honda N600 has a motorcycle engine under the hood, it’s because it does. This oddball is powered by a Honda VFR 800-cc V-4 motorcycle engine that puts power to the rear wheels. Although the car itself predates the era of high-revving VTECs, with the bike motor installed, this is likely the only N600 with a 12,000-rpm redline. This was one of several cars Honda showcased at the SEMA show.

11. Honda Civic Si Drift Car

This is a peek under the hood of a 926-hp Honda Civic Si. The engine is turned longitudinally and transforms a front-wheel-drive coupe into a rear-wheel-drive drift-spec machine. The work was done with help from Jeanneret Racing and Olson Kustom Works.

12. Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Prototype

We saw this Chevrolet Silverado Desert race truck back in early October, when it competed in the Laughlin Desert Classic, a 17-mile race event in Nevada near the Arizona border. It was there for “engineering development,” but we still think it’s a preview of an upcoming Silverado Z

13. Honda Rally Passport

Honda R&D in Ohio built this rally-ready Honda Passport in their spare time. It has already survived a handful of rally competitions, finishing second in its class at the Southern Ohio Forest Rally. It has had typical safety additions like a roll cage, but other than that it’s unchanged except for tires, brake pads, wheels, and skid plates. Oh, there’s also the addition of a hand-operated hydraulic brake, for epic drift action.

14. 1968 Ford Bronco

There’s been plenty of buzz lately about the upcoming Ford Bronco, which is expected to debut in early 2020. A collaboration between Jay Leno and Ford, this Bronco has a supercharged 5.2-liter V-8 from the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 and a five-speed manual transmission. The restoration maintained the simple beauty of original Bronco. The 18-inch steel wheels by Detroit Steel Wheels are a great combination of old style and modern needs. The Bronco’s Tonight Blue color would look great on a Mustang or F-150 Raptor.

15. Hyundai Veloster N Performance Concept

The Veloster N is quick, but this Veloster N Performance concept is quicker. Hyundai modified its hot hatch with carbon fiber for the front splitter, side skirts, rear diffuser, and spoiler while adding carbon fiber to each wheel’s center caps. The suspension is made up of Extreme Racing coil-overs and H&R coil springs with aluminum chassis bracing to add rigidity. Orange-accented interior bits stand out among more carbon-fiber pieces and an Alcantara dashboard.

16. SpeedKore Dodge Charger

Routed through the front fender of a 2019 Dodge Charger Pursuit is the exhaust from a 1525-hp Dodge Demon V-8. This project, put together by SpeedKore Performance Group and MagnaFlow, began as a police car. After fitting a carbon-fiber widebody kit, they turned it into something that would outrun police cars. The stock supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 was transformed into a twin-turbo engine and received an upgraded upper intake manifold designed to withstand the 26 psi of boost.

Written by: Austin Irwin, Car&Driver


2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Review: Say Goodbye to the Bad Guy

Early-build C8 Corvettes are hard at work, ginning up enthusiasm for the biggest sea change in America’s sports car since the C2 dropped the stick axle. The 2020 Corvette is an extraordinary car that makes extraordinary numbers at an extraordinary price—and we would expect nothing less. But before we rush headlong into the mid-engine era, can we stop and appreciate the outgoing C7 one last time?

Because it seems unfair, really, that the 2019 Corvette ZR1 has already become a thing of history, just another Vette in the model’s long and storied line. This is the culmination of not just the most recent generation of Corvette, but also the entire 66 years of the front-engine paradigm. Certainly, it is the costliest Corvette ever (and the highest-priced vehicle GM currently sells), with our test car ringing the bell at $142,075.

You spend that money for more power than in a regular Stingray—300 horses more. This is not unlike having an extra V-6 Camaro engine bolted to the top of your Corvette’s 6.2-liter V-8. Except the ZR1 actually employs a supercharger, with which the big, bad LT5 can blow even the brick house down, making 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque. Chevrolet says all that power comes from using both direct injection and good, old-fashioned port injection, a trick that also helps the Silverado return better gas mileage.

At idle the ZR1 rumbles like a seismic event and its rips and crackles at full snort are the sounds of a natural disaster. Hang on and hope that you don’t do anything stupid, like keep your foot in it for too long or try to outsmart its eight-speed automatic. (A seven-speed manual is also available.) Things happen quickly in the ZR1 and there is no chance of running out of car before you run out of road. It may not produce the acceleration numbers of an all-wheel-drive Tesla Model S Performance, but the violence of internal combustion in the Corvette augments its own sensation of speed to produce a far more visceral drive.

Indeed, the ZR1 must rank among the baddest sports cars to ever roll on four tires. In this case, those are sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s that owners should probably think about buying in bulk. Yet before the ZR1 was even launched, it was guaranteed to be overshadowed by the C8, just as it would be doomed to share most of its interior bits with the not-aging-so-well C7. Was it really only six years ago that this cabin seemed modern? But Chevy can’t really be blamed for spending money on interior upgrades for the new car rather than throwing good money after bad on this one-and-done special.

Behind the wheel, the view out over the vast hood of the ZR1 is like nothing likely to come again. The tops of its sharp fender creases still call to mind the outrageous C3, but they no longer seem like peaks compared to the mountain range in the center of the hood. The protruding carbon-fiber engine cover stands proud of the hood and is good for at least couple taps up on the power-seat adjuster. If the optional Competition Sport seats are too tight and the Track Performance package too stiff for the comfort of your average Corvette owner, well, those are items you add to your ZR1 when the pursuit of lap times render money no object.

Like its Z06 and Grand Sport siblings, the extra-wide ZR1 makes any road feel narrow, and makes narrow roads seem like goat paths. Thankfully its steering is prescient and immediate, giving the car an astounding athleticism. Talking about things like handling and grip after driving a ZR1 on the street is akin to holding forth on surgical techniques after binge watching Grey’s Anatomy. If the Cessna wing blocking access to the trunk isn’t a strong enough hint that exploring the limits of a ZR1 anywhere that doesn’t require a balaclava and helmet is a bad idea, maybe you’ve just sniffed too much of the ZR1’s resinous off-gassing. That cologne is yet another reminder that even at 218 percent of the price of a base Stingray, the ZR1 is still 100 percent C7.

With first tests of the C8 showing that it’s quicker to 60 miles per hour than the ZR1, the King of Corvettes has already abdicated its throne. It seems sea changes occasionally happen in the blink of an eye.

Originally written by Jeff Sabatini; Automobile