SEMA News—October 2019


By Kenalyn Ang

200 High School Students Engaged in Customization Builds

C.D Hylton High SchoolC.D. Hylton High School customized an ’02 Jeep Wrangler Sport.

The SEMA High School Vehicle Build Program aims to introduce high-school students to the automotive customization hobby and lifestyle through real-world, hands-on educational experiences. This year, five high-school auto-shop programs across the United States participated in the program. The schools customized five ’96–’06 model-year Jeep Wrangler TJs during their spring semesters with the help of aftermarket industry companies that sponsored the builds through product donations and scheduled visits. Overall, the Wrangler TJ builds were sponsored by 33 companies that donated more than 220 products.

Upon completion, the finished builds were auctioned off through program partner Bring a Trailer, raising over $133,000 to be reinvested back into SEMA’s program. Proceeds will fund the next round of builds and contribute to the program’s expansion to 10 vehicles.

For student participants, the SEMA program provides the opportunity to learn numerous marketable skills in addition to acquiring a technical education. “The build helped to enforce what is already taught here—problem-solving skills and schedule management,” said Ed Stevens, automotive instructor at C.D. Hylton High School, one of the participating schools. “The experience provided them a real-world build environment where they managed a build schedule, a parts budget, troubleshooting and innovation.”

But the SEMA High School Vehicle Build program does more than working with aftermarket companies to supply parts and products to eager young wrenchers. The program also introduces students to potential employers in the automotive aftermarket, and a number of these companies have formed relationships with local high schools to recruit potential employees.

Santa YnezSanta Fe
Santa Ynez Valley Union High School customized a ’97 Jeep Wrangler Sport.Santa Fe ECO High School customized an ‘05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport.
R.L. Turner High School customized an ‘04 Jeep Wrangler X.Comstock High School customized an ‘04 Jeep Wrangler Sahara.

Eastman Chemical Co., for instance, visited the students at R.L. Turner High School to perform a demonstration on properly installing window tint, and to talk about career opportunities within their company and other segments of the industry. This visit sparked the interest of some students in pursuing a career in window tint.

“The build helped to create new partnerships that will continue with us,” Ed Stevens noted, “and it also helped strengthen the ones we already had. Every year we take another step up and continue making the program and its impact on the community stronger.”

In addition, the students’ experience didn’t necessarily end with the finished build. After working with local restyler Auto Image on designing custom leather for Comstock High School’s build, one student builder is now employed by Auto Image. And students from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School were invited to attend the SEMA Installation Gala this past July, where they had the opportunity to network with industry leaders; their completed Jeep build was on display for attendees to see.

To learn more about the program, visit

Comstock High School in Kalamazoo, Michigan: ’04 Jeep Wrangler Sahara

Photos: Beam Photography

Comstock JeepComstock Jeep
This is the customized and finished ’04 Jeep Wrangler Sahara prior to auction during “SEMA Week of Customs” last July.The clamp-on roof rack was donated by Just Jeep ‘N Stuff.
Comstock JeepComstock Jeep
A 4-in. Skyjacker lift enabled fitment of 35-in. Trailblade Boss tires donated by Atturo Tires. The wheels are Rolling Big Power items donated by Pilot Automotive.The front and back bumpers were donated by local company jcrOffroad.

The students behind this ’04 Jeep Wrangler Sahara custom build made excellent use of local resources and connections, including a Comstock High School auto-shop alumnus who is now a local bodyshop business owner.

The Wrangler was the program’s only hardtop Jeep and included a locally sourced donated roof-rack system from Just Jeep ‘N Stuff. Some of the other products from the 14 donors and sponsors who supported this build included fenders, a winch and a front lightbar from Rugged Ridge, rock sliders from JcrOffroad and a fresh coat of paint from Twisted Automotive. Further donations included a hood-mounted jack from Hi-Lift, LED lights from Diode Dynamics and floor liners from Husky Liners. Under the hood, the Jeep features a new cold-air intake kit donated by Rugged Ridge.

The students worked with local installer Auto Image to design a custom leather interior with product donated from Katzkin. The Atomic wheels donated from Rolling Big Power completed the Jeep’s new look.

The Jeep was auctioned off on July 23 with SEMA partner Bring a Trailer for $20,250. For more information on this build and the program, visit

’04 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Project Sponsors

Atturo TireBloomfield Manufacturing Co. (Hi-Lift)BOLT LockCovercraftDiode Dynamics
Husky LinersJcrOffroad Inc.Just Jeep ‘N StuffKatzkin Automotive LeatherOmix-ADA (Rugged Ridge)
Pilot Automotive (Rolling Big Power)QuietRide SolutionsSkyjacker SuspensionsTwisted Automotive

C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge, Virginia: ’02 Jeep Wrangler Sport

Photos: Chris Cervenka Photography

C.D. HyltonC.D. Hylton
The students did extensive work under the hood and incorporated 19 replacement parts donated from Advance Auto.Red and cream seats refurbished with Katzkin leather pair well with the white body and red frame around the seats.
C.D HyltonC.D. Hylton
This ’02 Jeep Wrangler Sport was constructed by students of C.D. Hylton High School.The Jeep build included a 3.5-in. lift via a short-arm suspension kit donated by Rancho Suspension and Shocks.

The students of C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge, Virginia, performed a frame-off restoration of their ’02 Jeep Wrangler Sport. The vehicle’s entire chassis was repainted, along with a full-body color transformation from green to white using products donated by Finishmaster. Along with that, the students did extensive work under the hood and incorporated a variety of parts from Advance Auto, such as heater hoses, an oil filter and oil, and a radiator.

With the help of a total of 19 sponsors and donors, the vehicle underwent a major customization and restoration. The Wrangler gained a new hood donated by LKQ/Keystone, rubber door seals from Steele Rubber, and an accessory package from Covercraft that includes a sunscreen and car cover. A Safelite technician performed an installation demo for the students with a donated windshield.

Under the hood, the students installed a new cold-air intake kit and throttle spacer from Rugged Ridge. The newly done red and cream leather seats complement the vehicle’s white body. The interior was further enhanced by new Husky Liners floor liners. To top it off, LED taillights and bar lights by Rugged Ridge were added, along with a suspension kit by Rancho Suspension.

Perhaps some of the more visible additions include the T-Rex grille, as well as the new Travelstar Ecopath 35-in. tires donated by Unicorn Tire and the chrome Atomic wheels from Rolling Big Power. Two security items, a padlock and a cable lock, were donated by BOLT Lock. The Jeep was auctioned on July 25 with SEMA partner Bring a Trailer. For more information on this build and the program, visit

’02 Jeep Wrangler Sport Project Sponsors

Advance AutoaFe PowerBloomfield Manufacturing Co. (Hi-Lift)BOLT LockCovercraft
Diode DynamicsFinishmasterHusky LinersKatzkin Automotive LeatherLKQ/Keystone
Omix-ADA (Rugged Ridge)Pilot Automotive (Rolling Big Power)Quality Tire Custom Auto ShoppeQuietRide SolutionsRancho Suspension & Shocks
Safelite Auto GlassSteele Rubber ProductsT-Rex Truck Products Inc.TruckN’ AmericaUnicorn Tire (Travelstar)

R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton, Texas: ’04 Jeep Wrangler X

Photos: Collins Bros Jeep and Made Brand Studio

R.L. TurnerR.L. Turner
The green ’04 Jeep Wrangler X was built by students in Carrollton, Texas.The Black Mountain front bumper and winch were donated by Dennis Collins of Collins Bros, who visited the school prior to his donation.
R.L. TurnerR.L. Turner
The hood mounting system is a Hi-Lift product donated from Bloomfield Manufacturing.Here’s a closeup look at the interior refurbishment installed by Southside Trim and donated by Katzkin Automotive Leather.

This ’04 Jeep Wrangler X custom build—part of the SEMA High School Vehicle Build Program—caught the attention of Dennis Collins of Collins Bros Jeep, who visited the school and donated the winch and front bumper. The students were also visited by Eastman Chemical Co., which performed an installation demo of donated window tint for the build. The build also featured black Atomic Rolling Big Power wheels courtesy of Pilot Automotive, and a Painless Performance trail rocker trim.

Students built the vehicle with parts donated by a total of 17 sponsor companies. The Wrangler benefited from a paint touch-up on the hood by the students using donated PPG products, along with a custom leather interior by Katzkin and Hi-Lift hood mount by Bloomfield Manufacturing Co.

The signal lights as well as LED lights around the license frame were donated by Diode Dynamics, and the Wrangler has been equipped with a hurricane fender-flare kit in textured black, a cold-air intake kit and other key Rugged Ridge accessories donated by Omix-ADA. A total of more than $15,000 worth of products were installed.

Custom seatbelts from Seatbelt Planet are an example of the fine touches on the vehicle, and the Jeep sits on a 3.5-in. complete short-arm lift kit by Rancho Suspension, including shocks. QuietRide Solutions donated acoustic insulation kits for an enjoyable ride.

The Jeep was auctioned off on July 26 with SEMA partner Bring a Trailer during the “SEMA Week of Customs.” For more information on this build and the program, visit

’04 Jeep Wrangler X Project Sponsors

Atturo TiresBloomfield Manufacturing Co. (Hi-Lift)BOLT LockCollins Bros Jeep (Black Mountain)Covercraft
Diode DynamicsEastman Chemical Co. (LLumar)4 Wheel PerformanceHusky LinersKatzkin Automotive Leather
Omix-ADA (Rugged Ridge)Painless Performance ProductsPilot Automotive (Rolling Big Power)PPG/Color ServiceQuietRide Solutions
Rancho Suspension and ShocksSeatbelt Planet   

Santa Fe ECO High School in Santa Fe, New Mexico: ’05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport

Photos: Gerry Ruelas Photography

Santa FeSanta Fe
The fully customized, beige ’05 Jeep Wrangler ECO Crawler was fitted with 37-in. Trail Blade Boss tires donated by Atturo Tires.The Rugged Ridge winch and mounting plate were supplied by Omix-ADA, and the grille was donated by T-Rex Truck Products.
Santa FeSanta Fe
The build featured new trail doors.Rugged Ridge supplied the phone mounting system.

After raising more than $56,000 on the program’s pilot Jeep build last year, Santa Fe ECO High School was proud to customize and build its second Jeep under the program earlier this year.

The Jeep is powered by a 4.0L straight six backed by a five-speed manual transmission, and uniquely features a vented hood, trail doors and a donated Rock Krawler Suspension long arm 3.5-in suspension kit with a 5-in stretch. With 13 donors and sponsors, the build also benefitted from a Covercraft accessory package that includes a car cover and sunscreen; Katzkin interior leather trim; Atturo Tires 37-in. Trail Blade Boss tires; and a J-Mount, 5/8-in. receiver lock, padlock and cable lock by BOLT Lock.

The build has Husky Liners floor liners as well as Rugged Ridge accessories donated by Omix-ADA both under the hood and externally, including a 10,500-lb. winch and mounting plate, a Spartacus heavy-duty tire carrier kit, an all-terrain entry guard kit, and Hurricane fender flares, among other upgrades.

The first car to be released for auction this year, this Jeep was auctioned off on July 22 for $26,000. The students had the experience of working with new components and exploring new methods of mounting and fixing the parts to the build.

For more information on this build and the program, visit

’05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport Project Sponsors

aFe PowerAtturo TiresBloomfield Manufacturing Co. (Hi-Lift)BOLT LockCovercraft
Diode DynamicsHusky LinersKatzkin Automotive LeatherOmix-ADA (Rugged Ridge)Pilot Automotive (Rolling Big Power)
QuietRide SolutionsRock Krawler SuspensionT-Rex Truck Products Inc.  

Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in Santa Ynez, California: ’97 Jeep Wrangler Sport

Santa Ynez ValleySanta Ynez Valley
This is the customized ’97 Jeep Wrangler as it stood upon completion.The exhaust is vented through a Mach Force-Xp 21/2-in. 409 stainless-steel cat-back system donated by aFe Power. 
Santa Ynez ValleySanta Ynez Valley 
The interior was refurbished using leather seats donated by Katzkin and installed by Dealership Services Direct.The 4-in. lift kit from Superlift, combined with fender flares, enabled fitment of 37-in. tires. Superlift also contributed the steering stabilizer. 

Students at Santa Ynez Valley Union High built a ’97 Jeep Wrangler Sport, which retained its original 4.0L six-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. The Jeep now sits on donated 37-in. Atturo tires mounted on 17-in. Black Rock wheels and is topped with an American-flag-themed bikini top. It is also outfitted with a 4-in. Superlift Suspension lift and LLumar window tint by Eastman Chemical Co. has been applied during a product install demo from a company representative.

The students utilized multiple parts donated by a total of 14 sponsor companies. Alongside those listed above, they installed an AcoustiHood and AcoustiShield by QuietRide Solutions as well as an aFe Power stainless-steel cat-back exhaust system. A grille was donated by T-Rex Truck Products and installed to complete the look.

Omix-ADA was another major sponsor, donating no fewer than 15 Rugged Ridge kits and parts, including a windshield lightbar, a fender flare kit, a cold-air intake kit, an all-terrain entry guard kit, and LED kits for the brake lights and taillights.

The vehicle fetched $26,250 during the auction to help continue the program next year.

For more information on this build and the program, visit

’97 Jeep Wrangler Sport X Project Sponsors

aFe PowerAtturo TiresBloomfield Manufacturing Co. (Hi-Lift)BOLT LockThe Carlstar Group (Black Rock Wheels)
CovercraftDiode DynamicsEastman Chemical Co. (LLumar)Husky LinersKatzkin Automotive Leather
Omix-ADA (Rugged Ridge)QuietRide SolutionsSuperlift SuspensionT-Rex Truck Products Inc. 

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