SEMA eNews Vol. 12, No. 3, January 22, 2009

Most Popular Vehicles to Accessorize Revealed

Besides being among the top-selling vehicles in the United States today, the Ford F-Series pickup, Honda Civic, Chevrolet Impala and Toyota Tacoma are among the most popular vehicles to be accessorized by automotive enthusiasts. Not only do these vehicles have the volume in terms of total units on the roads today, but they are popular among automotive enthusiasts and specialty-equipment companies.

Determining what constitutes a popular platform for vehicle customization is not an easy task. Some makes and models have high unit volumes while others are exclusive and rare. Mainstream vehicles often have a higher gross count due to their availability. Conversely, enthusiast-focused models are commonly limited in sales yet have higher percentages of modifications per unit or vehicles with modifications.

In order to give each characteristic a weighted representation, vehicles from four distinct lists were counted, with each mention counted just once per list. In the end, vehicles with the highest number of mentions for the lists were ranked. This process aimed to remove models that had high unit sales but were uncommon enthusiast vehicles and those that simply are too rare to be considered. Therefore, the final list merges vehicles that meet two criteria—high volume and popularity.

Databases Used

  • Vehicle registrations - Experian Automotive
  • Popular vehicle profiles - CarDomain
  • SEMA Show exhibitor vehicles - SEMA
  • Enthusiast-owned vehicles - SEMA

Although some of the vehicles are no longer in production, they still have high potential for personalization because they remain some of the most numerous models on the road today. More than 1 million vehicles in the list above are currently registered, according to Experian Automotive. Due to their high volume, the likelihood of owners accessorizing them even with minor personalization is higher compared to lower-volume vehicles.

Money spent by owners of each of the listed vehicles varies, according to results from SEMA’s Automotive Lifestyles Survey. Data from the latest edition—which resulted in 3,037 respondents of enthusiast automotive magazine subscribers and automotive forum visitors—showed that Camaro owners spent, on average, $3,500 on specialty equipment within the past 12 months. In contrast, Toyota Camry owners spent, on average, $1,400.

Average dollars spent by these vehicle owners varied significantly. For example, according to survey results, Mustang owners spent $3,000; Wrangler owners spent ($2,500); and Ford F-Series owners spent $2,600.

SEMA Show vehicles represent the latest and greatest offerings by specialty-equipment manufacturers. Therefore, the cars and trucks exhibited present a barometer of what is popular and trendsetting within the industry. Below are recent photos from the 2008 SEMA Show showing several vehicles from the list of most accessorized.


2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid by West Coast Customs


BMW 3 Series Coupe by Eneos Fully Synthetic Motor Oil


1970 Chevrolet Camaro by Meguiar's Inc.


Ford F-150 by Wade Automotive


2006 Jeep Wrangler by Superchips


2006 Volkswagen Jetta TDI by TSW Alloy Wheels


2005 Toyota Tacoma by RCD Suspension


Honda Civic EX by GRIP Tuning


1962 Chevrolet Impala by Mothers Polishes Waxes Cleaners

*The list of vehicles in the table was assembled by comparing vehicles with at least 1 million total registrations with the top 50 vehicles at the 2008 SEMA Show, top 50 vehicles owned by CarDomain.com members and top 50 vehicles owned by enthusiasts polled for the 2008 Automotive Lifestyles survey during August – September of last year.

For more original market research, please visit www.sema.org/research.  

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