By Katie Hurst
The SEMA High School Vehicle Build Program is entering its third round of custom vehicle builds. Earlier this year, SEMA partnered with five high-school auto-shop classes across the country to accessorize five Jeep Wrangler TJs. Using aftermarket products donated by 33 sponsoring companies, students customized the Jeeps concentrating on wheels/tires, suspension, and interior and exterior accessories. In doing so, about 200 students were introduced to automotive customization as a hobby, learned new skills and concepts, and gained insight for a career path in the aftermarket.
SEMA will partner with high-school auto shops to complete 10 customization builds in the 2019–2020 school year. The five high school partners from the spring 2019 builds will return to the program for a second build. Applications are now open for five new schools to partner with SEMA in this hand-on educational experience.
Selected high schools will receive:
- One vehicle purchased and provided by SEMA.
- Aftermarket products donated by sponsoring manufacturers.
- Allocation of SEMA parts budget for additional products and labor as approved by SEMA.
- Connections to local and nationally based manufacturers and service providers.
- Introductions to and visits from aftermarket industry professionals.
- SEMA staff support and guidance throughout the build.
- SEMA build guidelines.
- Pending approval from SEMA, option to participate in build program the following year.
All high-school auto shops are invited to apply until the September 25 deadline. If you work with or know of a high-school auto shop in your local area, SEMA encourages you to send them a link to the application.
The following are some of the highlights of this year’s build and the names and locations of the participating schools:
Santa Fe ECO, Santa Fe, New Mexico
’05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport
SEMA partnered with Santa Fe ECO in 2018 to pilot the high school vehicle build program in which they built a ’15 Jeep Wrangler that was auctioned off for more than $56,000. The sale of this vehicle allowed the program to expand to five builds in 2019. The students of Santa Fe ECO turned out another awesome build—a ’05 Jeep Wrangler that uniquely features a vented hood, trail doors, a 3.5-in. suspension kit with a 5-in. stretch from Rock Krawler Suspension and has undergone a full body repaint.
Comstock High School, Kalamazoo, Michigan
’04 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
The Comstock High School auto-shop class in Kalamazoo Michigan, made excellent use of local resources and connections for their ’04 Jeep Wrangler build, including a program alumnus that is now a local body shop business owner. This is the program’s only hard-top Jeep that even includes a locally sourced donated roof rack from Just Jeep’N Stuff. Other unique features include LED headlights, full carpet replacement, bumpers, tire carrier and rock sliders from JcrOffroad, a 4-in. Skyjacker suspension kit and a fresh coat of paint.
C.D. Hylton High School, Woodbridge, Virginia
’02 Jeep Wrangler Sport
The students of C.D. Hylton performed a frame-off restoration on their ’02 Jeep Wrangler; they even painted the vehicle’s chassis. Along with the customization, the students did extensive work under the hood to ensure this Jeep runs with no issues. It has received a full body repaint, a brand-new windshield from Safelite, a front-door weatherstrip from Steele Rubber Products, a new hood from LQK/Keystone and a Rancho Suspension 3.5-in. short arm suspension kit.
Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, Santa Ynez, California
’97 Jeep Wrangler Sport
The ’97 Jeep Wrangler from Santa Ynez sits on 37-in. Atturo Off-Road Tires with Black Rock Wheels and is topped with an American flag-themed bikini top. This build is fully outfitted with Rugged Ridge products and also features a T-REX grille, Superlift Suspension 4-in. lift kit and LLumar window tint.
R.L. Turner High School, Carrollton, Texas
’04 Jeep Wrangler X
The ’04 Jeep Wrangler from the students of R.L. Turner caught the attention of Dennis Collins of Collins Bros. Jeep, who visited the school and donated the build’s winch and front bumper. The build also features custom seatbelts from Seatbelt Planet, Rolling Big Power wheels and a Painless Performance trail rocker.