SEMA 2016: THE BIG FIVE-0

Just a few days before SEMA 2016, as I prepared to make the short road trip from Slam’d HQ in Southern California, I made an appointment to have a rock chip in my windshield repaired. I chatted with the tech while he filled the rock chip and thanked him for the peace of mind he was providing for a long drive. After telling him the drive would be to the world famous SEMA Show, his eyes lit up a bit and he began asking quite a few questions. Even those uninterested in our automotive lifestyle have often heard of SEMA Show’s prowess. For anyone who has not yet attended the show in person, it remains somewhat clouded, as if it were an occasion out of mythology or fairytale. However, as I experienced my first ever SEMA Show in person just days ago, I can attest with first hand confidence that it is a very real experience, one even larger than could have been expected.

Photos & Words: Michael Phillips & Mike Alexander

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SEMA Show 2016 marks the historic 50th iteration and there was sort of a magical feel as such throughout the entire week. The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) was founded in 1963 in order to protect and elevate the industry of custom cars. As it has continued to evolve these many decades, SEMA helps to protect the rights of enthusiasts, manufacturers, industry professionals, etc. in regards to building and using all manor of cars, trucks, and motorcycles, as well as to help standardize the quality and availability of aftermarket parts and services.

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The SEMA Show itself, having been held since 1967, exists not only as the world’s largest “car show” per say, but it’s sole purpose is an industry-only trade show where manufacturers, retailers, builders, drivers, buyers, and media outlets gather from all over the world to celebrate and display the absolute best that the industry has to offer along with presenting their new products and innovations for the coming year. Though the emphasis of SEMA is for the aftermarket industry, some of the prime contributors to the show exhibition are the leading auto-manufacturers, such as Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Honda, and others. This year Ford had a massive center stage in the main hall of SEMA Show a well as the entire front section of the Show’s outdoor portion.

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One of the most interesting factors of the SEMA Show is the ultra diverse mixture of build histories amongst the vehicles on display. Many of the the exhibitions were constructed by professional shops and teams with decades of experience, others are the work of industry up-and-comers. Quite a few are builds that have been commissioned by major vehicle and parts manufacturers to display their catalogs and inventory, still others were essentially built in individuals’ home garages. This panoramic view of SEMA Vehicle origin stories, makes for an experience that encourages excellence yet celebrates originality. This is one of the primary keys in making the SEMA Show the most interesting automotive event around the globe.

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With builds from every corner of the country, and a few venturing from over seas, the dramatic display of genres can be a lot to take in. Everything from slammed minitrucks and fullsizes, race cars to street cars, classics, resto-mods, concepts, one-offs, and everything in between can be found throughout the show. Consistent themes and trends can be found to transcend the genres, including historic automotive styling, like that of a custom air bagged suspension set up. One of the most enjoyable elements of this year’s show was seeing just how many varied forms of vehicle did their best to cling to the ground beneath them.

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For the past fifty years SEMA Show has remained the pinnacle of the automotive industry celebration. To countless members of the Slam’d family the SEMA Show provides the year’s absolute best and more from around the globe. This year was certainly no exception as it offered opportunity to meet new fellow enthusiasts, connect with hard working professionals, and see the best damn Slam’d rides around – till next year SEMA Show!


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