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Unhinged: Why SEMA Special Build Cars Are The Ultimate Tease

Unhinged: Why SEMA Special Build Cars Are The Ultimate Tease

The last time I was at the SEMA show, in 2012, I was more enjoying myself than I was working. I was taking in the sights and sounds, and had made my way to the Mopar booth. Sitting among Jeff Dunham’s Challenger and the Little Red Ram concept sat one specific 2012 Charger that looked fairly nondescript, except when you looked inside you saw the one item that has been missing since the Charger came back to life in 2006: three pedals and one stick coming up from the floor. It looked perfect and production ready, yet I knew without a doubt that I’d have to stifle yet another case of automotive blue balls and come to the understanding that I wasn’t going to see a six-speed Charger anytime soon at a dealer.


Dodge Challenger T/A teaser (Photo: FCA)

And therein lies the issue with SEMA: Most everything in there is beyond the average scope of the everyday gear head and serves more as eye-candy and dream materialthan anything else. Sure, there are some great rides but the amount of brutally high-dollar rides versus the more attainable stuff is high, and the factory show stuff is just that: for show. Admittedly some stuff makes it, like Ford’s EcoBoost showcases and some of the parts and pieces available through the factory performance groups but when they are set up next to a car that will never see the light of day, what’s the point?


Chevrolet Impala Blackout (Photo: GM)

The point is to create a dream ride, something that inspires people to get to work on their own ride. Will you sink a quarter of a million dollars into your build? Of course not. But will you do something that was influenced by the car you have been drooling over? Absolutely, and that’s the best reason for the show entirely. In a couple of weeks BangShift will be bringing you all sorts of footage from the big show, and there’s already teasers coming out from GM and FCA, including the Challenger T/A and Viper ACR, Impala Blackout, “Poison” Dart R/T and others. And you better believe Ford is going to have several 2015 Mustangs that have been more than a little tweaked on. But remember, most of these cars have the “concept” tag associated with them. So as much as I’d love to see a 2015 Dodge Challenger T/A for sale at my local dealership, the likelihood is that it isn’t going to happen. But maybe the stripe package will be sold through Mopar Performance for those who want it, along with the hood, spoiler and whatever else the show car shows up with. So as we bring you all the information from the show, start writing your list to the fat man in the red pimp suit and make sure you have the part numbers handy.

2014 has been a year of staggering horsepower numbers and performance like never before, and here’s hoping that SEMA proves that 2015 will keep the crazy train rolling along.


As-yet-unnamed Special Edition Camaro SS (Photo: GM)

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8 thoughts on “Unhinged: Why SEMA Special Build Cars Are The Ultimate Tease

  1. Sumgai

    I think the car companies do care, and try to make cool stuff to sell, but a lot of times it is hard to make the halo cars/unicorns profitable. All those cool parts and the development costs end up making the vehicle too expensive for most of the “automotive enthusiasts” to afford. Look at the F-150 Tremor packaged trucks for example… Ford really did want to give enthusiasts a performance F-150 at a low price, but they just couldn’t afford to sell it as cheap as they hoped, so the package was quietly cancelled. I have seen a few Tremor badged trucks on lots but mostly the stripes ended up on FX2/FX4 trucks without any additional badging.

    1. Cyclone03

      Tremors problem is the same problem my FX2 ecoboast has, all that off idle power is great,but it goes flat at 3500rpm and then BLAAAAAHHHH.

      I would give up the tire crirp/spin across the intersection for 1000 more RPM up top. Dont get me started on the LACK of eco(nomy) in ecoboast .

      I went to SEMA in ’89 , seeing the concepts (and wanting near everyone) I wondered why these pieces couldn’t be sold over the counter.

      1. Sumgai

        Have you tried getting a tune? I find that late model Ford PCM tuning leaves a LOT on the table to protect the dumber drivers out there.

      2. Patrick U

        A tune makes a world of difference on the Ecoboost engines. I put one in my girls 2013 2.0L Explorer and it woke it up an immense amount. I’ve been shopping for a new half ton and so far the Ecoboost F-150 has my vote by a long shot.

        1. cyclone03

          Waiting for warranty to expire before I tune mine. Don’t get me wrong though ,I love my truck. Except the mileage SUX!

  2. Scott Liggett

    GM and the other companies have been building gee whiz prototypes for decades. They used to be much farther into the dream landscape than they are now, the famous Harley Earle Buick LeSabre concept car for example. In the last 20 years, these concepts are far closer to show room reality cars. GM built a 1996 Impala SS with a 502 and six speed, etc. They take them on the show circuit to gauge public’s interest in them. The bean counters try to come up with numbers that the company make a profit to build and sell such a car. Often times cost, emissions requirements, and lack of real public interest kill such dreams.

  3. catchmeblue70

    I still want the hot pink chrome painted Mustang from 2010 and the blue single cab Silverado SS from 2010 or 2012. Damn Ford and Chevy for giving me more “when I win the lottery” vehicles for my list.

  4. Sean

    Chev will have a Chevrolet SS Sport Concept, which combines a special red exterior finish with black stripes and gloss-black 20-inch wheels. The car is also fitted with a special grille kit, covering the fog lamp, fender air vents and rear-spoiler, while in a nod to the SS’ Australian heritage, Chevy has fitted Holden badges on the rims.

    Inside, the concept’s floor mats and cargo tray have also been given Holden-badging, while the standard car’s pedals have been replaced with a sports kit from the Chevy accessory kit.

    Power is provided by the stock car’s 415 hp (310 kW) LS3 V8, which is now available with a six-speed manual gearbox to sit alongside the six-speed automatic in the lineup. Rear Brembo brakes join the front Brembos that were standard on the 2014 car, along with magnetic ride control which is standard on the 2015 SS.

    Meanwhile on Australia.
    Holden will build 233 examples of the Craig Lowndes Commodore,
    Craig Lowndes SS-V Special Edition adds a range of features to Holden’s flagship V8-powered SS-V Redline sedan including paddle shifters for the optional six-speed automatic transmission, Brembo brake calipers at the front and rear, 20-inch wheels and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
    All Red with black accents.

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