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One of the biggest draws to the SEMA show are the vehicles that are on display in, out and around the Las Vegas Convention Center. For builders, being invited to display their vehicle at SEMA is a validation. Whether a shop built a knock-down gorgeous vehicle, or a manufacturer has a customer's vehicle that showcases their latest and greatest in parts, or a vehicle with a legendary past is brought in for the SEMA crowds to see and experience, the cars are a major draw. The SEMA show is a monster...there are tons of metal on the ground and all of it is exceptional in one way or another. This is just a sampling of what is parked at the Convention Center this year:
Mike Copeland is a man who doesn't understand the concept of retiring. The CEO of Arrington Performance and Diversified Creations, Copeland has a strong history of killer SEMA builds, including two other vehicles that are at SEMA 2022: "Outrage", his mid-rear engine Dodge Rampage, and his hydrogen LS3-powered 1948 Chevrolet truck known as "Zero", which is competing in the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational with Michigan Machine Worx owner Aaron Oberle on wheelman duty. Those two alone would be enough, but nope...there's more! At the Red Line Oil booth, Copeland took the wraps off of his latest project, a 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint that is powered by a hydrogen-fueled Ford Coyote V8 that is pushing 500 horsepower. Fitted with a Tremec TKX transmission supplied by American Powertrain, Baer brakes, gauges by Classic Instruments and custom machined bits from Michigan Machine Worx, the Falcon is another proof-of-concept build that shows how serious Copeland is about hydrogen fuel technology....and his devotion to frying the tires off of whatever he's building.
Mike Musto grabbed the attention of Mopar fans everywhere when he debuted "Project Angrier", a 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona clone, as a stablemate to his absolutely infamous "Mr. Angry" 1968 Charger. Seeing an Aero Warrior Mopar that is built to be beat on caused plenty of emotions, from cries of heresey to rowdy applause. But how do you improve on a 471ci stroker, a five-speed manual, and tons of suspension and brake tech? In this case, Angrier 2.0's big block was retired in favor of a 6.2L Redeye-spec Gen III Hemi, the nuclear option in the modern horsepower war with the help of the Gen III Hemi swap kit parts that Holley offers for 1968-1970 Mopar B-bodies. The Daytona is more than just an engine swap, however. Wesley Motorsports went through the car, tip to tail, upgrading and checking everything to make sure it was up for what Mike has in mind. We aren't going to spill the beans, but enjoy the car while it is sitting still right now - it won't remain at rest for much longer.
There's no missing the 1971 Chevrolet Caprice that Alex and the crew at Sac Speed Shop built. Hiding behind those rose gold 26-inch Forgiato "Wade" wheels are 16-inch Baer brakes that will let the heavy Chevy stop without fear. Good thing, too, as the hammer under the hood warrants a serious braking system. The 427ci LSX block breathes via Frankenstein cylinder heads and a ProCharger F-1X and is monitored with a Holley Dominator ECU. The vitals are monitored via a Holley EFI 12.3-inch Pro Dash.
Does the van life speak to you? It certainly spoke to Goolsby Customs, who rolled this almost unrealistically smooth Gen III Hemi-powered Dodge A108 van onto the floor. Underpinned by a Roadster Shop "Fast Track" chassis and powered by a 392 Hemi, that alone would make this a knockout build. But take a closer look at the bodywork, including the smoothed trim and the flush-mount glass.
Originally, Tom Bailey was supposed to get a standard Hellcat Durango for a build. But when that vehicle was one of the many that wound up swiped off the lot by some low-life thieves, Dodge made it right by selling him a prototype, the Durango Redeye. Most Mopar freaks would've left that puppy alone, would've bought a regular 5.7-powered Durango for the build, and called it good. Mr. Sick Seconds, on the other hand, went full-out on the prototype and the result is this monster. Nevermind the livery, nevermind the low and purposeful stance. Can you possibly miss the monster Hemi with twin MSD Pro Mags sticking out of where a hood should be? We can't wait to see this beast finished and screaming down a dragstrip!
While SEMA showcases a lot of new, fresh builds, there's plenty of room for legends, and Paul Rossi's 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A wears that title proudly. The original car started life as a real-deal 340 Six Pak T/A Challenger, selected by Chrysler to be Paul Rossi's Direct Connection-sponsored drag car. Having launched in 1974, Direct Connection needed a way to move B- and RB-series big block parts and bits, and racing was the optimal way to do just that after the musclecar scene died off. The Challenger became iconic, representing what could be done with 383 and 440 engines. The original car was sold in 1980 and went to England, but after being approached about a 1:18 scale version of that car, the decision was made to build a recreation. We got to see the car at Holley MoParty 2022, and we're glad to see the car on the floor at SEMA!
Few vehicles in the aftermarket are hotter than 1973-1987 Chevrolet and GMC trucks. This particular Chevy started off as just a truck cab...that's it. A factory frame was fitted with QA1 suspension bits and Baer brakes before the 6.2L LT engine and eight-speed automatic were dropped into place. AMD sheetmetal got the Chevrolet looking more like itself, while Rockford Smith knocked out the retro GM and Ford-inspired paint job. The matching Honda ATC 3-wheeler in the bed was built by Rob Sorger. A Sparc Industries steering wheel helps keep the "stock but custom" feel of the Chevy intact, and Halibrand C10 Sprint wheels in Max7 finish give Boogie Nights that proper muscle truck look. And, of course, the interior is a Cato masterpiece!
At the first look, you wonder what the main goal of this Ford Lightning is...is it a sport truck? Is it an off-roader? Is it an overlanding EV truck? What's the deal? According to Neal Tjin, the answer to pretty much every one of those questions is a resounding "yes"...why not turn Ford's EV pickup truck into a Jack-of-all-trades vehicle that you can use for anything. Feel like heading into the mountains for a weekend? The Army Green-painted truck sits on air suspension installed by Hoppos that gives the Lightning seven inches of travel, with the tank fitted inside the "frunk". A Thule cargo box with built-in solar capability and three lithium batteries (one removable) is fitted, along with an ARB refrigerator, a Greenlight grille, a Soundbox sound system, a Powertank 10-lb. air compressor system, and a Thule bike rack that holds the Super73 e-bike. The rooftop tent is by Thule. The rolling stock is composed of Vosson forged wheels on Nitto Grapplers, and those wheels hide Baer brakes. Lighting is by Rigid, the seats are by Recaro, and the seatbelts are by Seatbelt Planet.