By Steve Campbell
The 2014 SEMA Award
The Hottest Vehicles of the 2014 SEMA Show
SEMA annually recognizes four vehicle models that specialty-equipment manufacturers believe are the best platforms for accessorization and that showcase the year’s coolest products.
The awards are presented on the first day of the SEMA Show based on the total number of vehicles chosen for display in exhibitor booths at the annual event. Each booth vehicle represents a vote by the exhibitor. The SEMA Award honors are presented in the categories of Hottest Car, Hottest Sport Compact, Hottest Truck and Hottest SUV.
“The SEMA Show has always been the premier event where the newest and most innovative automotive aftermarket products and trends are seen first,” said Chris Kersting, SEMA president and CEO.
“With the SEMA Award, SEMA exhibitors recognize the vehicles they consider the top enthusiast prospects for the coming year.”
The 2014 SEMA Award was presented to the Ford Mustang as Hottest Car; the Honda Fit as Hottest Sport Compact; the Chevrolet Silverado as Hottest Truck; and the Jeep Wrangler as Hottest SUV.
The accompanying brief photo album includes commentaries from some of the exhibitors and the builders whose vehicles were chosen to be displayed in the SEMA Show booths to provide a greater understanding of why the selections were made.
2015 Honda Fit, 2014 SEMA Show Sport Compact
Bisimoto Engineering had two Fits in the Honda booth at the 2014 SEMA Show and built the vehicles because of their basic configurations.
“In the past, Honda typically used single-overhead-cam engines in their economy vehicles,” said Bisimoto Engineering founder and chief engineer Bisi Ezerioha. “The ’15 Fit features a twin-camshaft powerplant with roots in racing that provides opportunities for unique and tuner-friendly modifications, and the aesthetics of the modern body lines also lend themselves well to customization.”
Bisimoto offers more than two dozen products for the ’15+ Honda Fit, including an exhaust pulse chamber, an exhaust extractor, custom camshafts, connecting rods, forged pistons, an aluminum intake manifold, a big brake kit, a coil-over system, sway bars, a clutch kit and much more. The two Bisimoto Fits featured in the Honda booth were also equipped with dozens of products from other specialty-equipment manufacturers.
“It is an honor to be affiliated with the new Fit and to explore the opportunity to create new products,” Ezerioha said. “The Fit (also known as the Jazz) is a global chassis and has a huge following. Honda has made this chassis tuner-friendly and allowed my team and me the opportunity to prove what it could do at 480hp on one of the projects. Honda should be very proud of this award. Kudos to them for providing us SEMA members with the unique opportunity to kick start U.S.-based aftermarket support.”
Kontrabrands is a marketing company that specializes in vehicle builds, fabrication and motorsports. The company loves the styling of the new Fit and the myriad features that are bundled into Honda’s affordable package.
“The interior is spacious, and Honda included a lot of features from the previous-generation Fit while adding new ones,” said Philip Chase, vehicle builder for Kontrabrands LLC. “My team and I felt that we could further improve upon the Fit with stylish and purposeful modifications. There were definitely challenges as far as obtaining parts, and our Fit was the first one that many of the manufacturers we used could test products on, which also meant that we could provide input on the products.”
Some of those suppliers included R-M paint, DTM Autobody, Mugen body parts, SSR wheels, Falken tires, Tein coil-over suspension, Greddy Performance Products exhaust, Sparco seats and Clarion audio components.
“We are grateful to have been a part of the Honda Fit builds for the SEMA Show,” Chase said. “It’s wonderful that the Fit was recognized with the SEMA Award. It’s a great car that both consumers and parts manufacturers will embrace.”
The Tjin Edition Fit in the Honda booth was actually the third that the Tjin team had built for SEMA Shows.
“When we saw the ’15 version, we instantly fell in love with the body lines,” said Neil Tjin, president at Tjin Edition and marketing director at Vortech Engineering. “We worked with more than 15 companies to fabricate, test fit and make their parts work on the new Fit. We work with partners, and we have already worked a deal with a company in Japan to produce new LED taillights for the ’15 Fit.”
The range of components on the Tjin Edition Fit included Coplus LED headlights and foglights, a Webasto sunroof, Axalta paint, iForged wheels, Baer brakes, Falken tires, AirRex suspension, Katzkin interior, Sony audio, Scosche Audio wiring, LEDGlow lighting, GlowShift gauges, a Bisimoto pulse chamber and tow hook, SoCal Elite 94Fifty basketballs and authentic Honda emblems.
“We are thankful to have won the Fan Favorite Fit award from Honda with our Tjin Edition build,” Tjin said, “and it was super cool being able to do this build with my kids, Collin and Kylie.”
Spoon Sports USA manufactures a wide range of parts for all Honda models, including the Fit. The line includes everything from small accessories such as wide-angle mirrors to performance items such as coil-overs and exhaust systems.
“Spoon Sports and Honda have a rich history of exclusively tuned and developed parts for Honda sports cars since 1988,” said Aaron Wang, the company’s team principal. “Spoon is one of the world’s most well-known Honda tuners, so it was only natural that we wanted to build a ’15 Honda Fit for Honda’s SEMA booth. Being a compact and sporty car, the Fit goes well with Spoon’s philosophy of building fun-to-drive and efficient sports cars.”
Many of Spoon’s parts for the ’15 Fit are still in prototype form but will be released into production in the near future. In addition to the company’s own products, the Spoon Fit was equipped with Rays Wheels and Yokohama Tires racing slicks.
“The Fit makes for a perfect chassis for Spoon Sports to build an endurance race car,” Wang said. “Because it is lightweight and efficient, it reduces fuel and tire consumption over the lengthy period of an endurance race.”
2014/2015 Jeep Wrangler, 2014 SEMA Show Hottest SUV
For Lund International, the overall design of the Wrangler lends itself to many different products and product categories that the company can highlight. The utilitarian aspect of the Jeep allows Lund to creatively design and develop functional products to meet the needs and demands of the multifaceted customer base.
“This is an iconic vehicle for our industry, and we are steadily gaining momentum with new products particular to it,” said Billy Bibb, Lund International’s new product development manager. “This is an awesome vehicle that has evolved with the industry, and the award goes without saying: most accessorized vehicle at the 2014 SEMA Show.
Lund International’s wide range of products for the Jeep Wrangler include vent visors, vent shades, hood protection, fender flares, floor liners, hood scoops, grilles, Rhino Lining panel guards, headlight/taillight covers, rock rails, nerf bars, cargo management and tool chests. The Wrangler in the Lund Show booth was also outfitted with wheels, tires and lift supplied by Georgia dealership Akins as well as a Rampage top, lighting accessories and bumpers.
Bulldog LED Lighting supplies a wide selection of off-road products for the Jeep Wrangler, including double- and single-row LED light bars and new 500-lumen Claw lights as well as mounting brackets made exclusively for the Jeep Wrangler and Bulldog Lighting LED light bars.
“This Wrangler was built by LGE*CTS Motorsports out of San Dimas, California,” said Dylan Sievers, president and founder of Bulldog.
“We have a great working relationship with this team of builders and trusted them to not only display their talents in manufacturing their own U.S.-made bumpers and steps but also our U.S.-made LED light bars. The way they incorporated our lights into the bumpers and mounts was eye-catching, but the paint was definitely right there with it. Custom styling is something that LGE is known for.”
In addition to Bulldog’s own products, the Jeep was equipped with a lift kit from Icon Vehicle Dynamics, Toyo tires, Factor 55 safety components and many other top products. “Jeep offers one of the highest content of parts that are made in the U.S.A.,” Sievers said, “and that is something to be proud of.”
Superlift Suspension offers a variety of lift kits and steering-correction components for the Jeep Wrangler, and the company introduced its new Reflex Suspension components at the 2014 SEMA Show.
“We wanted to display a vehicle that exemplified us as a company,” said Joey Arbogast, Superlift’s director of marketing. “Jeep and Superlift Suspension are both off-road originals, so the Wrangler was a perfect choice. As long as Jeep Wranglers are on the road, we’ll keep designing new products for them.”
The Wrangler was fitted with Interco tires, BMF wheels, a Volant COI system, Drake Off-Road upgrades, JCR Off-Road bumpers and sliders, Wet Okole seat covers, a Warn winch, MBRP exhaust, a Kicker sound system, Rigid Industry lighting, an Optima battery and Knipex tools.
“It’s pretty cool that the Wrangler took home the prize as the top SUV at the SEMA Show,” Arbogast said. “I wasn’t long ago that Jeeps were afterthoughts when it came to building SEMA rigs. The JK Wrangler has made people look at Jeeps in a whole new light, and they are now the show-stopper for any SEMA booth.”
Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels supplies a wide range of products for the Jeep Wrangler, including tires, wheels, front bumpers, grille guards, rear bumpers, rear tire carriers, high-lift jack mounts and third brake light extenders.
“The Jeep Wrangler has become an iconic brand of the American outdoor lifestyle,” said Ken Warner, the company’s vice president of marketing.
“As another iconic brand, Mickey Thompson was a perfect match. We also saw continued growth in the Jeep accessory market, and we expect this trend to continue. We are working on the development of other metal accessories to be added to the line.”
More than 30 SEMA-member companies participated in the Jeep project for the Mickey Thompson booth, which was spearheaded by owner and builder Mike Duval of X-Treme Toyz. An abbreviated list includes Fabtech suspension, Synergy Suspension steering components and axle reinforcements, Lazer Star lighting and light bars, Katzkin leather interior and M/T Metal Series bumpers and tire carriers.
“Mickey Thompson is proud to be offering high-quality accessories for the most accessory-friendly vehicle around,” Warner said. “The Jeep was a hands-down favorite for the SEMA Award.”
Most of Omix-ADA’s business is built around ’41–’15 Jeeps, and the company has focused on developing unique accessories for the ’07–’15 Jeep Wrangler, which continues to bring enthusiasts into the fold.
“The Wrangler is one of the most customized vehicles currently in the market,” said Henk van Dongen, Omix-ADA director of marketing. “We currently cover wheels, suspension, interior accessories, soft tops, bumpers, hood, lights and exterior accessories. We offer more than 10,000 total SKUs, more than 2,500 of which are accessories, and most of those are for the Wrangler. The market seems to continuously ask for more products and new innovative ideas, whether they are completely new products such as our Exo-Top or another type of bumper, such as stamped steel bumpers.”
“We are very excited to see the number of Wranglers that Chrysler is producing,” von Dongen said. “They continue to be strong, which in itself continues to support a growing aftermarket.”
TeraFlex manufactures premium suspensions, body protection equipment, heavy-duty axles and unique accessories that are designed specifically to enhance a Jeep owner’s experience.
“Living and promoting the Jeep lifestyle has been our mantra since 1959,” said Vinson Pratt, the company’s marketing manager. “TeraFlex is a Jeep Wrangler company focused on the performance and function of this unique vehicle. Every product is meticulously designed, engineered, tested and developed with the user experience in mind.”
Pratt pointed out that the Jeep Wrangler posted best-ever October sales just before the SEMA Show with a 52% increase, and it set sales records in each month of 2014.
“A large part of the reason that the Jeep Wrangler is a perennial favorite with industry manufacturers and customers alike is because it is so aftermarket-friendly, allowing all enthusiasts to build Jeeps their way,” he said. “It is no surprise that the Jeep Wrangler won the SEMA
The TerraFlex Wrangler was also outfitted with BFG KO2 All Terrain tires, Raceline Wheels, ARB locking differentials and fridge freezer, Star Fabricating leather seating and an Action Truck conversion kit from Thaler Design.
2014/2015 Chevrolet Silverado, 2014 SEMA Show Hottest Truck
MaxTrac Suspension supplies everything from 5–6-in. lift kits to 2–3-in. leveling kits and even 2–7-in. lowering kits for the ’15 Chevrolet Silverado. The company is also developing more lift kits up to 7.5 in. tall, along with new products that will enhance its existing kits.
“The Chevy Silverado has the most potential when it comes to the aftermarket industry because Chevrolet releases information so that we can build our products in a timely manner,” said Bob Sager, national sales manager for Maxtrac. “We were able to see the truck at the SEMA Garage and were able to test fit several different products on the vehicle in just one day. The parts were simple to build and install, and our most complete lineup of kits are off of this platform.”
The Maxtrac booth Silverado was also fitted with Falken tires; Versante wheels; N-Fab bumpers and nerf bars; a Rigid Industries grille, light bar and lighting; an Undercover pre-painted bed cover, bed rug and swing cases; Magnaflow exhaust; and an Airaid intake.
“Having great companies such as Chevrolet and SEMA working with us makes our job and making great products much easier,” Sager said.
Performance Accessories/Or-Fab’s Chevy Silverado 1500 kits are the most popular systems in the company’s line. In fact, Performance Accessories says that it sells more 1500 Chevy body lifts than any other brand. It also offers lift systems, leveling kits and gap guards for the truck.
“The Silverado has a very loyal group of customers with lots of aftermarket support,” said Steve Rezek, president of Performance Accessories/Or-Fab. “It has great body lines, good engine performance and a very capable factory suspension that complements our body lift kits to allow for larger wheels and tires, enhancing the truck’s overall performance affordably. Silverado customers really enjoy personalizing their trucks, which makes it a very successful product line for us.”
The Silverado in the company’s booth, with help from Lamb Chevrolet, was also equipped with Fox Racing shocks, Fuel Off-Road wheels, Toyo tires, Bushwacker fender flares, AnzoUSA lights, a T-Rex grille with light bars, an RKSport hood, Go Rhino side steps, Beal’s Auto Body paint, Katzkin leather seats, Gibson exhaust and a GM Performance cold-air intake.
Westin has designed products for the Silverado in virtually every category the company produces, including 12 different nerf/step bars and running boards, 10 different grille guards, bull bars and light bars with winch mounting options, toolboxes, bed mats, headache racks, overhead and ladder racks, acrylic wind deflectors and bug shields as well as floor mats, receiver hitches, electrical connectors and accessories.
“Silverado accessories have been a large part of Westin’s product offerings for more than 30 years, so when Chevrolet releases a new body style, it provides us with a tremendous opportunity to showcase new and innovative products designed specifically to enhance the appearance of this vehicle,” said Bob West, Westin executive vice president.
“The Silverado is very deserving of the SEMA Award, and Westin congratulates Chevrolet,” West said. “Chevrolet builds trucks that look great and provide a platform for us to show off our products. What could be better?”
Aeroklas offers products for the Silverado that includes tonneau covers, a three-way toolbox and AeroHook cargo tiedowns.
Aeroklas Co.Ltd. is a member of Eastern Polymer Group (EPG) which has been producing finished rubber and plastic products for over 35 years. In 1996 EPG started Aeroklas to produce truck bed liners under the Aero liner and Hero liner brands. Since that time Aeroklas has expanded internationally including a presence in Australia and the UK. In the process Aeroklas has obtained international certifications for their products. Including the ABS Double Shell Canopies, which Aeroklas was the first in the world to produce and sell. We at Aeroklas USA take this history of dedication to quality and innovation seriously. We inspect our product thoroughly to ensure that what we sell is of the utmost quality and that our customers are completely satisfied.
“The new Silverado gave us a fresh platform for the release our new covers, which were styled specifically for the new body,” said Tom Capps, Aeroklas USA director of sales and marketing.
“We especially like the ease of access to the rear of the truck bed with the new built-in step platforms. We maximized the viewing of our booth Silverado with the Aeroklas Aggressor Series manual-tilt hard cover. We would like to congratulate the Chevrolet team on a job well done.”
A.R.E. Accessories offers its entire line of fiberglass and aluminum truck caps and tonneau covers to fit the Chevrolet Silverado. The company also offers a wide variety of complementary accessories that go with its caps and covers. The prototype of A.R.E.’s new LZR Series was designed to be on the company’s booth Silverado at the SEMA Show.
“The Chevrolet Silverado continues to be a popular truck for both our dealer partners and end users,” said Andy Clutter, A.R.E.’s marketing manager. “We wanted to show a truck that the visitors to our booth wanted to see, so it made sense to include a Silverado this year. The Silverado’s versatility is impressive. You can build an amazing show vehicle with all the bells and whistles or build an everyday work truck, and it won’t skip a beat.”
In addition to its A.R.E. Accessories products, the truck was outfitted with Plain an Simple lights, American Force wheels, Toyo tires, a Wicked Customs lift kit, a grille from All Wired Grilles, a Hypertech programmer, MBRP exhaust, Fusion bumpers and Rigid LED lighting.
The AnzoUSA offerings for the Chevrolet Silverado include its patented U-Bar projector headlights along with LED taillights and third brake lights. The company also produces a five-function OE replacement spoiler and an LED five-function corner step as well as an LED light bar roof mounting kit and LED light bar.
“The ’14 Chevy Silverado was the first model this year to show significant changes in design,” said Suzie Kirby, AnzoUSA director of sales and marketing. “The innovative style of this model allowed us to develop unique LED aftermarket performance lighting products that are in a category of their own. With our sleek designs, AnzoUSA products give the truck a completely unique look.”
The AnzoUSA booth truck was also fitted with N-fab front and rear bumpers, Amp Research Powersteps, Nitto tires, KMC wheels, a Bully Dog monitoring system, RoadWire leather interior, an RBP grille, Firestone Ride-Rite airbag suspension, Fabtech lift kit, Surf City Garage car-care products, Bushwacker fender flares, AVS window deflectors, a Monster recovery tow hook, a Magnaflow exhaust system, an RK Sport fiberglass hood and Line-X spray-on protective coatings.
GM vehicles have been at the core of ReadyLIFT Suspension’s product development and marketing strategy since the company started in 2006. Every year, the company’s top-selling suspension products are those for GM trucks, and ReadyLIFT now offers nearly 125 different kits and individual products just for Silverados.
“We display a GM 1500 truck in our booth at nearly every SEMA Show to visually illustrate to our customers and dealers the progression of suspension systems that we have developed for that platform,” said Brian McCormick, media & marketing director for ReadyLIFT. “The suspension designs have always lent themselves to efficient product development and ease of installation for consumers—and Silverados look great lifted with larger wheels
Many of the industry’s top companies partnered with ReadyLIFT and Extreme Offroad & Performance for the build of the booth Silverado, including Fiberwerx, Magnuson Superchargers, Comp Cams, aFe Power, Corsa Performance Exhaust, Edge Products, Method Wheels, Toyo Tires, Deaver Springs, Fox Shox, UnderCover, Rigid Industries LED Lighting, T-Rex Grilles, Alea Leather, Kicker, ADD Offroad, Monster Hooks, Plain An Simple and ARH.
2015 Ford Mustang, 2014 SEMA Show Hottest Car
Defenderworx manufactures officially licensed Mustang products, such as billet fuel doors with carbon-fiber accents, billet emblems, billet license plate frames, window louvers, upper roof spoilers and street flares, with other interior and vinyl products in development.
“As a licensed supplier with both Ford and General Motors, we have seen the success of our products for previous-generation Mustangs and Camaros,” said Joe Maynard, general manager for Defenderworx. “With the ’15 Mustang arriving at dealers literally days before the SEMA Show, we knew that it was going to be an attention grabber with attendees. The Mustang enjoys a very loyal fan base, and we knew that having products ready at launch was key to a successful 2015. The fact that this is now a world car helps build a business case for tooling parts that will be sold in additional countries where we are already successful in selling other products.”
“We are excited to see how Mustang sales grow in 2015,” Maynard said. “We are looking forward to a great year.”
Whiteline Suspension said that the best attribute of the new Ford Mustang is its performance handling and cornering abilities, which will attract buyers who have historically gravitated toward other, more nimble vehicles. Whiteline is developing a full line of alignment-correction bushings, chassis components and adjustable sway bars to help enthusiasts maximize the Mustang’s suspension handling capabilities.
“Besides being a great vehicle for the enthusiast market, the Ford Mustang for the first time in its history will be sold worldwide, taking full advantage of Whiteline’s global presence and distribution,” said Tom Phan, the company’s marketing manager. “We anticipate enthusiasts modifying their vehicles for drag, drift, grip and aesthetics and are therefore working on a range of products to correct the suspension geometry as the factory intended or manipulate the suspension to allow more spirited performance driving
HRE FlowForm supplies a variety of products for the Mustang, including the FF01 wheel in 20x9.5 and 20x10.5, the FF15 in 18x10, 19x10, 19x11, 20x10 and 20x11, and two 20-in. forged HRE offerings in the RTR line exclusively for Mustang—the Tech Mesh and Tech 7.
“Everything about the new S550 Mustang is significant,” said Greg Lenac, HRE FlowForm business development manager. “Being a Mustang fan, I knew early how important this new platform was going to be. When you factor in that it’s a global vehicle and we are a global company, the importance of having the Mustang as the only vehicle in the FlowForm booth became quickly apparent. CorteX Racing did all of the work, and we could not be more pleased with the outcome.”
The CorteX Racing Mustang also featured a Vortech supercharger, Borla exhaust, CorteX coil-overs with JRi dampers and Hypercoil springs, Brembo brakes, Michelin and Pirelli tires, a Tiger Racing hood, a Classic Design Concepts spoiler, Sabelt seats and harnesses and a CorteX Racing rollbar.
Gibson Performance Exhaust’s current offerings for the ’15 Ford Mustang include a 3-in., stainless-steel, cat-back exhaust that comes with an X-pipe, dual mufflers and 4.5-in. intercooled exhaust tips. These products are available in raw stainless with polished tips or a black ceramic coating. The company is also developing long-tube headers as well as an axle-back system that caters to the European and international markets.
“We wanted to take advantage of the new vehicle platform as an opportunity to highlight that we also make performance exhaust for modern musclecars in addition to our American-made truck and SUV exhaust and header systems,” said Rory Connell executive sales associate for Gibson. “We are excited that the new Mustang is a global platform and caters to so many different demographics with its several drivetrain options.”
Gibson’s booth Mustang was also equipped with a JLT cold-air intake, a 3D Carbon front splitter, HRE FlowForm wheels, Toyo tires, Roadwire interior, Eibach suspension, Brembo brakes and a Daley Visual wrap.
Vortech Engineering said that the ’15 Ford Mustang was new, hot, and everyone wanted one for their SEMA Show booth.
Vortech currently offers a supercharger kit with a front-mount charger cooler for the ’15 Mustang GT and is working its magic on the ’15 Ecoboost Mustang.
“The Ford Mustang kits are some of the best-selling kits we have at Vortech,” said Neil Tjin, Vortech’s marketing director. “As soon as we saw the ’15 Mustang GT, we knew that we had to make a supercharger kit for it. We see the potential for terrific performance gains that we can make with our Vortech supercharger.”
Classic Design Concepts (CDC) carries numerous exterior styling components for Fox-body cars through the ’15 Mustang. CDC is known for its Lightbar, which it manufactures for Roush and Shelby as well as its own brand. The company created its new Outlaw package specifically for the ’15 Mustang and showcased it at the SEMA Show for the new-product exposure the event provides.
“The new Mustang is a total redesign, which gave us a fresh canvas to work from,” said Craig Edwards, the company’s sales manager. “Also new for 2015 are our Outlaw wheels. We designed them as part of the overall Outlaw package, but they’ll also fit ’05–’14 Mustangs, Gen 5 Camaros and ’08–’15 Challengers. Some of the optional items buyers can add to the Outlaw package were supplied by Ford Racing, Wilwood, Steeda, Alea Leather and Kicker Audio.”
CDC felt that the Mustang was the perfect choice for the Hottest Car award.
“It’s a brand-new car from the ground up,” Edwards said. “As you saw from the number of very creative examples at the SEMA Show, the Mustang will continue to be one of the most popular cars for owners to personalize and make their own.”
SCT Performance was the first to market with a ’15 Mustang GT and EcoBoost tune. The company said that it increased horsepower by 27.5 and torque by 25.41 lb.-ft. at the rear wheels of the Mustang GT and can add 12.65 hp and 8.11 lb.-ft. of torque at max power with the addition of a JLT cold-air intake.
“We are able to safely enhance the Mustang’s performance either right out of the box with a pre-loaded calibration or through custom tuning capabilities,” said Marissa Muller, vice president of marketing for Derive Systems. “Derive Systems combines the market-leading technologies and resources of the SCT and Bully Dog brands to offer customers an unparalleled calibration solution. We partner with dealers and offer our Derive Advantage software with value files to allow greater customization for maximum performance.”
“With the EcoBoost Mustang coming out as a global vehicle, SCT will be offering international coverage as well,” Muller said.