The 2021 SEMA New-Vehicle Awards
Recognizing the Most Customizable New Platforms for 2022
Compiled by SEMA News Staff
The 2021 SEMA Award winners (from left): Toyota Marketing Group Vice President Lisa Materazzo; Ford Future Electric Vehicles, Vehicle Platform Director Dave Pericak; SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting; Ford F-Series Chief Program Manager Jackie DiMarco; Ford Executive Director for Global Programs Phil Collaraeno.
Each year prior to the SEMA Show, exhibitors are polled on the new vehicles that, in their judgment, represent the best opportunities for customization and accessorization via the aftermarket for the coming year. Vehicles are chosen in five distinct classes, and the winners are announced ahead of the start of the Show. This year’s announcement was made on Monday, November 1, before the first day of the 2021 Show. The winners were:
- SEMA Car of the Year: Ford Mustang
- SEMA Fullsize Truck of the Year: Ford F-Series
- SEMA 4x4/SUV of the Year: Ford Bronco
- SEMA Midsize Truck of The Year: Toyota Tacoma
- SEMA Sport Compact of the Year: Toyota Supra
What follows on these pages is a sampling of the winning vehicles that exhibited at the 2021 SEMA Show.
One of the builds that garnered the most buzz at the 2021 Show was “Tacozilla”—a backwoods trail and travel rig that pays homage to the old-school Chinook camper conversions of the ’70s.
The Tacoma relies on the stock 3.5L for power, though a custom dual-battery configuration is plumbed in to provide extra juice for ancillaries. A 2-in. TRD suspension lift with billet control arms clears a set of 285/70R17 General Grabber X3s. The interior, outfitted by Complete Customs, features teak “sauna-style” flooring, a fully operational kitchen with fridge, stove and sink, and a 3-D-printed dining table that folds away to convert to a backlit piece of wall art. The Tacoma’s bodywork, also provided by Complete Customs, utilizes PPG paint, and a fully integrated winch resides within the front bumper.
Also drawing attention at the Toyota booth was this overlander concept built in collaboration with Cruiser Outfitters. The Tacoma SR5 retains the stock V6 and six-speed automatic, though an ARB Safari snorkel intake has been added for deep-water crossings. A 3-in. Old Man Emu suspension lift incorporates old-school Dakar leaf springs in the rear, and a set of 285/70R17 Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs is wrapped around gunmetal Icon Alloy Alpha wheels. Expedition One skidplating and rock sliders provide additional sheetmetal protection. A Warn Zeon 10-S Platinum winch lends pulling power as needed, and Rigid LED light pods illuminate the trail. Onboard tools include a shovel and an axe. An ARB compressor powers a 63-qt. fridge/freezer, and a Yakima rooftop tent opens to allow sleeping for two.
Also of note at the Toyota booth was the ’22 GR86 Premium Supra. Engineered by Gazoo Racing, the Supra utilizes new front crossmembers and a rear full-ring frame for added on-road stability, and a large duckbill spoiler improves aerodynamics. The 2.4L horizontally opposed four-cylinder delivers 18% more horsepower than the previous model, with peak torque at 3,700 rpm translating into a more immediately responsive driving experience. An aluminum roof and front fenders provide weight savings, and the base GR weighs in at just over 2,800 lbs., making it one of the lightest production sports cars on the market. An eight-speaker audio system is standard, and a 200W subwoofer is an available option.
The new Bronco has generated a great deal of aftermarket interest, and the 2021 SEMA Show gave builders the chance to show off their most recent Blue Oval projects. This example at the Scosche booth incorporated an array of the company’s products, including an M8RIX relay switch system, an NEXS HD dash cam, a MagicMount Pro2 clip mount, and a PowerVolt car charger. A Fox coilover suspension that utilizes BDS upper control arms damps a set of 37-in. Mickey Thompsons mounted on Fuel Off-Road wheels. A set of 4 Wheel Parts Factory bumpers and sliders protects against rocks, and a Warn 10-S winch is ready for extraction duties. Baja Designs lighting improves visibility, and a PowerTank provides a source of onboard air.
Bronco specialists Maxlider Brothers brought their latest creation to the Dynamat booth, and it continues their tradition of eye-catching builds. A 4-in. BDS suspension system and Fox shocks provide jounce and rebound for a set of 37x12.50 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/As and Vision wheels. Exterior armor comes courtesy of Addictive Desert Designs and Rock Slide Engineering, and a Warn winch lends a hand if the vehicle is rendered immobile. Under the hood, a Stainless Brothers custom exhaust handles spent gases, and Advanced Fiberglass Concepts provided an air hood to optimize airflow. A custom leather interior was sourced from Maxlider, Dynamat soundproofing helps keep the cab quiet, and lighting from Vision X and Oracle Lighting includes a trick backlit grille treatment. Additional support for the build came from Air Design USA and Limelite Graphics.
Broncos were abundant at the 2021 SEMA Show, but none wore a coat of trail patina better than this Rebelle Rally-tested Badlands model built by 4 Wheel Parts Factory and co-piloted by the company’s own Tori Bundrant and Kathryn Reinhardt at the 2021 rally race. The 35-in. Mickey Thompson Baja Bosses mounted on a set of Method Race wheels were up to the challenge, and a Smittybilt compressor was on hand to keep them properly aired up. Rigid lighting aided visibility regardless of the hour, and an ARB fridge came in handy during the eight-day, 1,700-mi. endurance test. 4 Wheel Parts Factory bumpers provided front and rear protection, and the company’s fender deletes enabled necessary tire clearance.
Ford F-Series trucks have been the best-selling vehicles in America for more than 40 years running, and this Powerboost hybrid model from Hellwig Products provides a fitting platform for an overlanding rig. An Icon Vehicle Dynamics Stage 5 suspension system pairs with a set of Hellwig helper springs and swaybars to assist the 35-in. Falken Wildpeak A/T tires and 17-in. Icon wheels in delivering a more supple on-road ride. An AT Overland Equipment Summit bed-topper includes an integrated rooftop tent, and a Yakima heavy-duty rack allows for storage of large and bulky items. Bumpers from Addictive Desert Designs provide trail armor, and a Warn winch is ready for extraction duties. Under the hood, an Injen cold-air intake and a Ford Performance cat-back exhaust help the engine breathe more freely, and an ARB compressor provides a steady source of onboard air.
Tacomas have long been a popular build platform, and this example combines onboard electronics with overland capabilities. A Fabtech suspension system clears room in the wheelwells for a set of Nitto Recon Grappler tires mounted on Fuel Off-Road wheels, and beefy Fab Fours bumpers provide protection front and rear. A Warn winch resides within the front bumper, and a 23 Zero rooftop tent enables overnight camp stays. A Compustar remote security system keeps would-be thieves at bay, and electronic components from Scosche and iDatalink Maestro enhance functionality and comfort inside. At the rear, a custom rack-mounted panel houses a nine-speaker Sony E-Mobile system.
This Bronco at the DV8 Off-Road booth shows you don’t need a lengthy list of parts sources to build a capable street and trail machine. Start with an Eibach coilover suspension that enables clearance and flex for 37x12.50/17 Falken A/T3 tires mounted on 17-in. DV8 883 wheels, then add an assortment of DV8 performance parts. Modular bumpers and skidplating provide protection on rocky trails, while a 50-in. roof-mounted lightbar houses an array of Elite Series lighting and a pair of dual pod A-pillar mounts bring more illumination. Up front, a 12,000-lb. synthetic winch line adds safety as well as stoutness during extractions, and a set of DV8 tube sliders protects vulnerable rocker panels.
Addictive Desert Designs
Another case of the “less is more” build ethos could be seen with this Bronco at the Addictive Desert Designs booth. The builders started with an already capable Wildtrak Sasquatch model that comes straight from the factory with locking front and rear diffs and clearance for 35-in. tires. The builders went one better, adding a 2-in. BDS suspension system that provided room for 37x12.50/17 Nitto Trail Grapplers on a set of 17-in. Dirty Life Mesa beadlocked wheels. Add a pair of ADD Bomber bumpers, and you’ve got a Bronco that can handle nearly any type of terrain. Oh, and having a custom “Splash” graphic design courtesy of Chip Foose Design will make it stand out on any trail ride.
Body Armor 4x4
The Tacoma overlander at the Body Armor booth was chock-full of the company’s product line, including its HiLine-series winch bumper and Pro-series rear bumper, a 20-in. combo-beam lightbar, Cube LED light floods and an Overland roof rack, which accommodates a Sky Ridge-series three-person tent. Bushwacker fender flares provide clearance for a set of AMP tires on Icon alloy wheels, and Husky Liner protects the bed from abrasions. An Action Trax recovery board is on hand to aid with extraction. Inside, Roadwire seating keeps the occupants comfortable, and an Edge programmer provides throttle boost as needed. Lighting from Rigid Industries and Morimoto improve visibility, and the Toyota’s engine gets an assist from a Gibson performance exhaust under the hood.
Equipped with a color-matched bike and surfboard, this Bronco at the Toyo Treadpass was outfitted as an outdoor lifestyle rig. An Eibach suspension locates the Toyo Open Country A/T tires wrapped around a set of fifteen52 analog HD wheels. Baja Designs lighting lends a trick look and improved front visibility while a Next Base dash cam monitors road conditions elsewhere. The bike out back sits on a Thule rack, and components from Pelican Products and Goose Gear enhance storage and security. A Goal Zero portable power station can aid the Dometic fridge, while Katzkin seats keep the Bronco’s occupants comfortable.