Las Vegas, Nevada
October 30, 2007 -
Words by Ben Hsu, Photos by Dan Hsu
n the tradition of of Detroit, Tokyo or Frankfurt, SEMA has almost become a proper motor show, required attendance for automakers, despite the fact none of the cars on display can be purchased from the factory in their exhibited forms. More often than not, you'll see something like this Chevy Caprice
hi-riser with a slightly inaccurate Rolls Royce nose grafted onto its front. Like it or not, SEMA is a yearly snapshot of automotive trends.
When we heard that Toyota had been awarded Manufacturer of the Show, we palpitated accordingly, especially since the company's was celebrating its 50th anniversary of American sales on October 31, smack dab in the middle of SEMA week. The official schedule showed a Toyota press conference that morning. Could this be the big golden anniversary moment we'd been eagerly waiting for all year? Yes, if you consider a couple of sentences mentioned in passing an appropriate tribute.
Instead, most of the time was spend lauding the features of the 2009 Corolla and Corolla-based Matrix. A collage
of Corollas past did flit by on the big flatscreen for about three seconds though. And in front of the convention center, a street/drag '69 Corolla
and a some AE86s represented old school 'Rollas. Perhaps the coolest heritage cue came on roll hoop
of the Five Axis monoposto Yaris.
To celebrate 40 years of little metal cars that scratch your mother's furniture, Hot Wheels asked actual car manufacturers to design some wild concepts that will make it into the diecast lineup. Honda's H-racer
entry was cool, if not puzzling - a twin podded affair shaped like the company's "H" logo and heavily influenced by the 1966 RA273 F1 machine, complete with red stripe on Championship White paint job and udon-like tangle of exhaust pipes.
SEMA's all about the aftermarket though, and we noticed two distinct phenomena. First, old school rims are back with a vengeance. Several booths had designs patterned after various vintage wheels - Drag
to name a few. SSR
was actually around before old school was old and offers genuine 3-piece wheels, but if you want real classic deep dish, you gotta dish out real cash.
The other trend we noticed is that while JDM brands are thinning out their offerings for vintage cars (or not offering them for sale in the US), American and Australian companies are stepping in to fill the void. Addco
have a wide selections of swaybars and clutches. Whiteline
and Disc Brakes Australia
have incredible catalogs of bushing kits and brake rotors and pads as well. Sadly, many companies we talked to are deleting products for nostalgics from their catalogs because "the demand isn't there." If you want them to continue supporting your cars, pick up the phone.