SEMA News - July 2009
By Drew Hardin
Courtesy Source Interlink Media Archives
Forty-two years ago, the SEMA Show was born in the dark, cold aisles beneath Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. A year later, the Show enjoyed its first growth spurt as it moved south to the spacious Anaheim Convention Center. The change of venue and industry momentum caused the number of displaying manufacturers to nearly double, from a little more than 100 in 1967 to 192 in 1968. This photo, from Petersen Publishing Co. photographer Pat Brollier, gives you an idea of what the Show floor looked like that week in January.
John Thawley covered the SEMA Show in the March 1968 issue of Hot Rod magazine and offered some interesting statistics, tallied by sister publication Hot Rod Industry News: The automotive specialty-equipment industry recorded more than half a billion dollars in retail sales in 1966, which represented an increase of 330% from comparable sales figures recorded just five years prior. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that the 18-to-24-year-old demographic (still called an “age group” in 1968) accounted for more than 50% of all automotive specialty-equipment sales. But in a measure of how much things have changed, Thawley noted, “The speed shops which serve as the vital link between consumer and manufacturer reported that more than 80% of all sales were cash, which is indicative of the financial stability of the industry sales base.”