SEMA 2018 Coverage…


I’m gonna be perfectly honest with you, I’m only posting these photos because I need credentials for SEMA in the future, lol. Every year when I apply for a Media Pass, they require me to show them previous work that I’ve done for SEMA and this just makes it easier for me to send them something that I shot. To be fair, these photos aren’t trash by any means, I put effort into them and captured detail shots and all, it’s just not nearly as in-depth as they were when I first started going to SEMA some years ago. Video is much easier and way more fun to capture at an event like this and that is where I spent most of my time in Vegas. Well, other than napping and partying. While I was prepping for Year10 this year, I told myself I’d take it easy the following few weeks after and SEMA was going to be more of a vacation than work. I don’t necessarily get paid to go to SEMA anyways, and it actually costs me money to be there, but it is one of those important annual events that I feel like I almost HAVE to attend. I used to be way more involved with the industry, especially when I was doing more print/magazine work, but these days, I just go to SEMA just to go. I’ll meet up with friends, walk the show, see the more talked-about debuting car builds at the show and the rest is just relaxation time. I did some industry work last year for Hyundai as an “influencer” and that was fun, because they took really good care of me and stuck me in some fancy hotel, but I was on my own this year as just a guy with a media pass…

As far as this being a mini vacation for me goes, well, everything sort of just fell into place for that to happen. If you’re one of those people that believes that things happen for a reason, well, this would definitely be one of those instances. I rented a car for myself since I didn’t want to fly and have to Uber everywhere, and I also figured some of my friends might need a car that week, and come the day for me to pick it up, the rental car company decided to upgrade me for free. So I literally paid compact car prices for a Nissan Rogue CUV. I’ll take that. I packed-up my shit, drove to Vegas, which was about 4 hours away, and arrived at my hotel. In the last few years, I’ve noticed that hotel prices have skyrocketed during SEMA week. This isn’t surprising at all, considering this is one of the busiest times of year for Vegas, so you gotta book early to get a good price. I procrastinate pretty much 110% of the time so of course, I didn’t book anything early. I barely found a room for under $200 bucks a night. Everything else was crazy and I don’t gamble, so I am not a high-roller anywhere and I don’t get comped rooms. Some of my other friends were staying at some pretty nice places but I mean, they’re in Vegas quite often so they have the connect. I also had some friends staying at timeshares far far away from the Las Vegas strip so it worked out that I had a car for them to use. I ended-up at the Palms, which is technically still on the strip but also not. It’s a nice spot and right by the food area I like to eat at with all the good Asian cuisine so it was perfect for me. So I arrive pretty late Monday evening, and my boy John Liwanag is waiting for me because he needed a place to stay for a night since he had a meeting in the morning. I park, grab my suitcase and go check-in. The line is unusually long that night, particularly for the Palms because it isn’t THAT busy ever and in front of me are two “working girls” who probably flew in that week to work the poles during SEMA. What better way to make some money than during one of the biggest sausagefests of the year, right? They got their Juicy Couture-like velour jumpsuit ensembles on, no make-up, big fake butts, and some suitcases that appear to be nice but were probably purchased at Ross. Their arsenal of luggage and clothing tells me that these aren’t high-priced escorts. They are staying at the Palms after all so it was clear that they were strippers. They go to check-in, there isn’t too long of a delay, and they move along. I noticed that the guy who had checked-in previously was complaining about something and held the line-up for some time. Perhaps they didn’t have a room for him or the right type of room, so he was upset about it. The strippers…no problem. They got their rooms and moved right along. I go to check-in and the lady is courteous, doesn’t say much and as she was giving me my room key, she informs me that I’ve been upgraded for free to a suite. I wasn’t sure what she was saying so I just nodded. I had never stayed here before so I had no idea why I was being upgraded, but apparently I had a suite for the week…

John and I meet up and we head up to my room. I scan my key card, open up the door, and was presented with a massive one bedroom suite. There was a huge living room, bar, separate bedroom, a walk-in closet that was larger than most hotel rooms, and a bathroom that didn’t even make sense. Perhaps it was a mistake, or they just didn’t have any rooms left because they had overbooked, so they just gave my this suite because they had no where else to put me. I’m not complaining. I almost feel like they didn’t give the suite to the two strippers in front of me because the lady feared they could be prostitutes or something and would use the suite for “work purposes”. They probably ended-up in a regular room. Safer to give the suite to an Asian dude who looks like he has no money, lol. In any case, SEMA turned-out to be a vacation even if I hadn’t planned on making it one. But I’m not complaining at all. Throughout the week, I went to SEMA every day, but it was just a few hours here and there. It was more of a means to an end to hang out with people and run into other car enthusiasts who were there that week. I’m sure I spent more time at the after-parties than I did at the show this year. It was a lot of fun. There was one point when we all went back to my suite to hang out and I dozed off into a mean ass nap. I woke-up in the bedroom and realized everyone had left. I had so much time to spare before we went to dinner that night that I just decided to go to the living room and nap AGAIN…

I guess I could tell you more about SEMA, but I don’t think I was there long enough to even give you a full report of my experience within the event itself. Everything that you guys saw in the Vlogs is pretty much what happened. I did capture a lot of video though, as did Der, so please make sure to check the YouTube channel to see it. The photos below are just the photos I managed to capture during the times when I felt like shooting. There was some really interesting stuff there and these are just some of the builds that caught my eye…

It’d also be fair to say that I kinda just floated around Las Vegas that week and these are purely for future credentials because I enjoy hanging out in Vegas once or twice a year, lol…

Enjoy…

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Igor from CATuned’s 1987 BMW E30E coupe resto build covered in BMW Daytona Violet paint…

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Taifun square headlights and grille….

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It looks simple enough but as these resto builds go, there is much more involved than meets the eye. You can read more about it here: E30 Grape SEMA 2018 Build

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Black AP2 S2000 wearing what looks like a Pandem front bumper and M&M Honda over fenders. A bit of an odd choice since the front doesn’t line up with the over fenders but I understand the idea…

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Inside the shaved engine bay of the S2000 is a GM-based LSx engine with Corvette engine covers and a custom intake…

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Street Faction rear wing stands paired with a truck duckbill and Carshop Glow taillights. Notice how the S2000 is bagged on Airlift suspension so it sits firmly planted to the ground…

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Evasive Motorsports-built Toyota 86 grip car wearing a full ENEOS livery typically piloted by driver Daijiro Yoshihara…

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JDM Palace’s full RE Amemiya FD RX-7 utilizing a yellow/black colorway sitting on Volk TE37SL…

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One of the cars that I was anticipating to see in person was the new Pandem FC3S RX-7, built by Kenji and the boys from GReddy Performance. There were some build-up photos posted here and there on the GReddy social media accounts but never really a full look at the car. I think this is one of the better-looking Pandem kits for any of the cars, since the FC is so boxy and box flares would work perfect on it, so I was excited to see it completed. Nice to see Kenji kept it traditional and just went with a simple white/gold motif completing the build with gold mesh TRA Kyoto wheels…

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The only area that I wasn’t 100% set on were the four foglights up front, right in the center of the bumper. I thought it looked a little weird in the renderings but after seeing the kit in person, it actually works out quite well. Everything is so squarish and linear on this kit and these fogs help to add a little extra layer of contrast to the overall look…

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A look at the rear shows the rear over fender, rear spats, and rear wing, all which flow so well together and give the FC some more girth…

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GReddy exhaust with burnt turn-down tip on the Pandem FC…

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Straight-on look at the face of the Pandem FC, here you can get a good idea of how much wider the front is…

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One of the first Varis-equipped Toyota Supras (non-Ridox) that I’ve seen here in North America, built by WD Ultimate. Loved this kit when I saw it at Tokyo Auto Salon earlier this year but I have to admit that I liked the Hurtling kit just a little bit more, both the products of Varis…

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A better look at the carbon hood with the huge vent and carbon splitter…

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The new “Live To Offend” aero kit for the BMW E30, created by designer Khyzyl Saleem in a joint venture with Eric Penelow…

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Rotiform BM1 wheels on the car are an homage to the classic BMW M1 wheels paired with an aero kit that follows similar lines to that of an E30 M3 with tweaks and styling by The Kyza…

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One of the best-looking builds of the 2018 SEMA Show was this widebody Grigio Medio Ferrari 328, dubbed the BB328, built by Mitch Button. It sat at one of the best spots within this year’s Toyo Tires Treadpass area and during the right time of day, the light just shined perfectly on the Ferrari, which sat airred down on Rotiform wheels…

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I found myself coming back to it multiple times just to see the car and all of its little details…

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On a list of many of the more interesting builds of the 2018 SEMA Show was this Rauh Welt Begriff 1977 Porsche 930 Backdate. The Ivory White Porsche wasn’t ‘interesting’ because it wore an RWB Backdate kit, but more so because it didn’t have a traditional Porsche air-cooled engine. It didn’t have a combustion engine at all, actually, and sitting under the rear hatch was an EV West Tesla Model S electric motor swap…

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RWB aero installed and signed by the man himself, Akira Nakai of Rauh Welt Begriff…

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dR Design 9ELEVEN LED projector headlights to modernize the 70s-era Porsche 911…

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Custom reupholstered Burberry-themed interior with 356 Speedster seats, RWB Los Angeles chrome-plated roll cage, and Streetfighter LA fiberglass interior panels.

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MOMO Indy Heritage steering wheel and a collection of polished billet interior pieces from Rennline to contrast with the classy reupholstered dashboard…

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Custom-built 17×10/12.5 BBS RS wheels with BBS Design Line center caps and 24k gold hardware….

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The naked rear of the RWB Backdate 911 sans exhaust, because it no longer requires one…

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A glimpse of the front over fender, Toyo Tires, and BBS RS wheels…

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And for those wondering what it looks like under the bonnet, here is the EV West electric motor which makes 563EWHP (Equivalent to about 700 crank horsepower) paired with a Tesla Model S limited-slip differential…

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A build that immediately caught my eye the first day of SEMA 2018 was this custom widebody Mazda R100 hailing from British Columbia, built by Rod Nielsen and Hot Rod’s Restos. It’s one of those cars that will leave you wondering what its exact purpose is due to its completely insane appearance and overall aesthetic. You can’t see it here because of the shadows but the rear is actually a dually, because of how wide the rear over fenders are…

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The custom fuel set-up of the R100 utilizing Radium Technology components and a large fuel cell….

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Check-out the interior of the R100, which screams anything but ‘comfort’ with aluminum seats and even a metal steering wheel. Everything else is just bare bones with a MoTec digital display, switch panel and bare sequential shifter assembly clearly seen mounted to the exposed T56 manual transmission…

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I’m sure the Starbucks cups were placed in the custom-made cup holder for sheer irony. Here you can see how the roll cage is laid-out, even more of how bare the interior is, and the MoTec unit mounted right onto the dashboard…

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Under the front-opening hood is a bridge-ported 20B three-rotor engine paired with a 72mm Borgwarner S400 SX-E turbo. The set-up is good for about 700HP and 560LB-FT of torque…

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Quirky-looking Bogart RR-Wide 5 wheels mounted to Wilwood 6-piston brakes…

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The rear Bogart/Wilwood set-up warped in Falken Tire rubber…

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Through the rear windshield we can see the rest of the roll cage, along with a peek at the Winters 10-inch Quickchange and QA1 dampers….

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Kirkey Racing seats and Cipher safety harnesses in gold to match the transmission housing and other gold accents on the exterior…

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Over at the H&R display area was the debut of Mike Burroughs from Stanceworks’ 1931 Ford Model A sitting on IMSA DPI wheels and Michelin rain slicks…

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Crammed into the Model A’s custom chassis is a VMP supercharged Ford Coyote V8 engine…

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Another angle of the modern Coyote V8 with custom headers fabricated by Robert Chavez…

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The rear end of the Stanceworks Ford Model A truck, here you can see how the custom radiator and fans are mounted to the chassis, as well as the ATL Racing fuel cell and fuel pump layout…

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The menacing front face of the Stanceworks Model A, no need for headlights, with a look at the front suspension, arms and meaty tires. Also very cool how you can see the supercharger up top between the grill and roof line. I hear there’s a full feature on this build coming up and who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll head down to Mike’s shop and shove a GoPro into this thing and let it rip…

That’s all for my SEMA coverage… I really phoned it in this year, lol. Thanks for looking…

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