Vegas show, SEMA, assaults the senses

Eight hours of bells, whistles, beeps and flashing LED lights is enough for anybody to stand.

And I’m not talking about a marathon in the hotel casino but a day at the massive SEMA Show that has just wrapped up here in the desert. For those not in the ‘auto know’, SEMA stands for Specialty Equipment Market Association. It’s a fancy title for an organization representing the auto aftermarket business. It includes the manufacturers of those wonderful accessories with which we love to adorn our cars and trucks in order to customize and make them that little bit more about us.

It’s a feast for the eyes and ears of any auto buff and even those mildly interested in four, two and even three-wheel steeds – for a time. I’ve never encountered so many enthusiastic sales people in one spot waxing lyrical about how their cleaner will make your car gleam.

And clearly they had each done a great selling job on custom car exhibitors, whose restored and recreated classics shone blindingly. I did notice a correlation between the quality of the crazy designs on the cars and the elaborate tattoos on the artists responsible for such bodywork. Don’t know what to say about the red paint job on the 1963 Chevy Impala – judge for yourself. Didn’t see a pic of the ‘painter’ to test my theory. Thank goodness.

Fancied owning the three-wheel Campagna V13R Roadster, though a more conservative colour would suit me better.

A ‘convertibilized’ Scion FR-S was certainly eye catching and would be fine in California where going topless the year round is de rigueur. I didn’t see any roof tucked away.

A personal favourite was the Toyota Tundra Fishing Team truck. For me, fishing and golfing is for those with nothing left to do in life. But this beauty would tempt me to stand waist deep in freezing water and stick out my rod. OK, maybe not if I put it that way.

One of the problems with SEMA is there is no media preview day, allowing you to shoot unobstructed views of what’s on show. There is a mass of humanity in the way of every pic you choose to snap. The worst spoilers are often revealingly clad young women who won’t move out of the way. A case in point was the buxom lass who prowled around the Foose-stylized 1953 Ford F-100 truck. In the end, I had to climb some stairs and shoot down to get a decent view.

KIA commanded huge attention with its display of five cars inspired by DC Comics Super Heroes. Perhaps the most garish was the Rio hatchback chosen for Aquaman. They are the handiwork of comic artist Jim Lee, who collaborated with world-renowned builders West Coast Customs.

By now you may have gathered that quirky appeals to yours truly. At SEMA, you can buy a matching collar and leash for your pooch emblazoned with your favourite marque’s badge. I thought the pink set emblazoned with the Chevy bow tie log was particular fetching for a hound of the female variety.

As I fingered the goods, a woman sidled up to me and asked if I would be wearing the collar and leash that night and if so could she join me at the party. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, as they say. Interestingly, the stand selling pet accessories and matching belts for humans used a pair of crash test dummies to model the attire.

I’m not an Elvis fan though I would never admit that in this town, Nevertheless, I was particularly taken with the glass shelf mounted on the rear end of a mini pink Cadillac, bearing an Elvis Presley licence plate.

I gave up searching for the man who will sell you an urn for your ashes with a spot for your grieving loved ones to place the badge from your Last Car. It was time to leave and that’s when I saw my favourite car of the show. It was the Hyundai Elantra Coupe Zombie Survival Machine, which was draped with various body parts. Yes, the hit TV show Walking Dead has much to answer for.

As I staggered, Zombie-like, to hail a cab, I spotted the perfect gift for my daughter Rachel’s 30th birthday. It was a shocking pink VW mini bus kit – check out that interior treatment! Sorry honey, it wouldn’t fit in my case.

Kirkham 427 Cobra at the 2012 SEMA trade show.
Photograph by: Keith Morgan, PNG