By Katie Hurst
The five fully customized Jeep Wrangler TJs built by high school students as part of the SEMA High School Vehicle Build Program were up for auction this past week in an event called “SEMA Week of Customs.” The auction event launched Monday, July 15, with one Jeep released for five consecutive days with a seven-day auction life. The final auction closed Friday, July 26, at 11:00 a.m. (PDT).
The finished builds auctioned through program partner Bring a Trailer (BaT)—an online auction marketplace for buying and selling special vehicles—resulted in a total of $127,000 to benefit high school auto-shop programs. Bring a Trailer is also generously donating its auction fee to the program, bringing the grand total to $133,350. Proceeds from the auctions are being reinvested back into the SEMA program to fund another round of builds for the five participating schools and will go toward the program’s expansion to further its reach to five new schools for a total of 10 builds in the 2019–2020 school year.
“We at Bring a Trailer are very excited to partner again with SEMA to auction these special custom Jeeps,” said Randy Nonnenberg, BaT co-founder and CEO. “Young enthusiasts are key to the future of the automotive hobby and we applaud SEMA for furthering their investment in this program and these students. We are very happy to again be donating our entire 5% auction fees on these Jeeps to the same great cause.”
The program partnered with C.D. Hylton High School, Comstock High School, R.L. Turner High School, Santa Fe ECO and Santa Ynez Valley Union High School to complete the semester-long build projects. Thirty-five automotive aftermarket companies sponsored these builds by contributing parts, and when paired with the craftsmanship and vision of the students, these Jeeps are truly one of a kind.
“The industry has really supported this project,” said Zane Clark, SEMA senior director of education. “Their generosity has elevated the build beyond our expectations and created a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience for the students.”
The following are some of the highlights of each build and the names and locations of the participating schools:
Santa Fe ECO, Santa Fe, New Mexico
’05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport
SEMA partnered with Santa Fe ECO in 2018 to pilot the high school vehicle build program in which they built a ’15 Jeep Wrangler that was auctioned off for more than $56,000. The sale of this vehicle allowed the program to expand to five builds in 2019. The students of Santa Fe ECO turned out another awesome build—a ’05 Jeep Wrangler that uniquely features a vented hood, trail doors, a 3.5-in. suspension kit with a 5-in. stretch from Rock Krawler Suspension and has undergone a full body repaint.
Comstock High School, Kalamazoo, Michigan
’04 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
The Comstock High School auto-shop class in Kalamazoo Michigan, made excellent use of local resources and connections for their ’04 Jeep Wrangler build, including a program alumnus that is now a local body shop business owner. This is the program’s only hard-top Jeep that even includes a locally sourced donated roof rack from Just Jeep’N Stuff. Other unique features include LED headlights, full carpet replacement, bumpers, tire carrier and rock sliders from JcrOffroad, a 4-in. Skyjacker suspension kit and a fresh coat of paint.
C.D. Hylton High School, Woodbridge, Virginia
’02 Jeep Wrangler Sport
The students of C.D. Hylton performed a frame-off restoration on their ’02 Jeep Wrangler; they even painted the vehicle’s chassis. Along with the customization, the students did extensive work under the hood to ensure this Jeep runs with no issues. It has received a full body repaint, brand-new windshield from Safelite, front-door weatherstrip from Steele Rubber Products, a new hood from LQK/Keystone and a Rancho Suspension 3.5-in. short arm suspension kit.
Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, Santa Ynez, California
’97 Jeep Wrangler Sport
The ’97 Jeep Wrangler from Santa Ynez sits on 37-in. Atturo Off-Road Tires with Black Rock Wheels and is topped with an American flag-themed bikini top. This build is fully outfitted with Rugged Ridge products and also features a T-REX grille, Superlift Suspension 4-in. lift kit and LLumar window tint.
R.L. Turner High School, Carrollton, Texas
’04 Jeep Wrangler X
The ’04 Jeep Wrangler from the students of R.L. Turner caught the attention of Dennis Collins of Collins Bro’s Jeep, who visited the school and donated the build’s winch and front bumper. The build also features custom seatbelts from Seatbelt Planet, Rolling Big Power wheels and a Painless Performance trail rocker.
Find out more information about the SEMA High School Vehicle Build Program.