The annual SEMA Show kicked off on Tuesday in Las Vegas. For a few days, the auto industry's focus drifts away from reality and into a fantasy world of big, wild, extreme builds of all shapes and colors. Some interesting themes flow through this year's show, including unlikely off-road vehicles, re-engined classics and potential world record breakers.
Off-Road & Off-Grid
While there were plenty of burly trucks and 4x4s to be found at SEMA 2014, this year's show has kicked it up a notch. Major manufacturers like Kia, Toyota and Hyundai have turned unassuming commuter vehicles into full-blown earth-roaming machines, and the show is hosting one of the world's biggest, nastiest expedition vehicles in the KiraVan (pictured below).
That beastly, high-tech Unimog command center isn't something that many a driver would want to pilot over the gnarly stuff, but an everyday minivan with a little muscle? That's a potential vehicle for the everyman adventurer. As we previewed back in June, Toyota has taken the minivan to the extreme, sliding a Tacoma 4x4 truck frame below the Sienna's family-hauling body and calling it the Ultimate Utility Vehicle.
The UUV was designed to serve as command center for the 16,500-mile (26,550-km) North American leg of Toyota's Ever-Better Expedition, allowing Toyota engineers to monitor and analyze the other vehicles on the expedition and send data back to HQ. It therefore includes a serious electronics kit with 60-in Sony LED TV, mobile satellite TV receiver, mobile Internet and integrated Wi-Fi, a 2,500-watt JBL audio system, and a Flir night vision camera with HD recording. We plan to look at the UUV in a little more detail within the next few days, but we had to mention it here as one of the coolest off-road designs of the show.
While the UUV brings a roadgoing vehicle off-road, the Tundrasine pulls a rugged truck back onto the asphalt. Toyota has stretched the 1794 Edition 4x4 CrewMax 5.7L V8 Tundra pickup by just over 90 inches (229 cm), painted it in the very limousine-like shade of Midnight Black Metallic and kept the pickup bed in back for good measure. The brown-leather interior is inspired by private luxury jets.
Another eyebrow-raising truck debut, the Nissan Titan XD "Triple Nickel" is being developed for a land speed record. Named for the 555 lb-ft of available torque
provided by its Cummins 5.0L turbo diesel V8, the truck includes purpose-built modifications like lowered suspension, salt-flat-style wheel covers, Mickey Thompson tires, a Stroud Safety parachute and custom-fabricated front air dam. Nissan and Cummins are working on the truck together and hope to break the 191-mph (307 km/h) record in the D/DT class and the 115-mph (185-km/h) FIA class A-III-9 record.
Road & Track
The Nissan Triple Nickel isn't the only world record machine on display at SEMA. The Hennessey Venom GT already has an unofficial world speed record, and Hennessey is hoping that it can make it official (or at least drive the unofficial record higher). Making its debut at SEMA, the updated Venom GT has a 1,451-hp 7.0-liter twin-turbo V8, making it over 200 hp more powerful than its unofficial world record-holding predecessor. Hennessey estimates a top speed in the neighborhood of 280 mph (451 km/h), a 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) of 2.4 seconds and a 0-200 mph (322 km/h) of 12.8 seconds.
SEMA has a lot of brand-new open-top hardware on show, including very nice efforts from
Mazda and Kia. Rezvani adds another in this bright-red version of its super-quick
Beast roadster. Rumor has it that Rezvani is working on a 700-hp Beast X, but with its 500 hp on tap, and an estimated 0-60 mph time of just 2.7 seconds, the regular Beast should leave customers perfectly content. When it's not out slingshotting to highway speed in under three ticks, the carbon fiber-skinned Ariel Atom is sure to look awfully nice reflecting sunshine in the driveway.
Not all the cool cars at SEMA are as brand-new as the Beast or Venom GT update. Possibly the coolest car on Chevy's stand is the old-but-new 1970 Camaro RS. Chevy has updated the Hyper Blue Metallic-brushed vintage muscle car with the all-new 650-hp supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V8 from the Corvette Z06. A T-56 Super Magnum six-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension, four-link rear suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, and Z06-based front and rear disc brakes help the driver put the potent engine to use.
SEMA hosts one of the year's most eclectic collections of vehicles, so don't miss the full tour inside our photo gallery.