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SEMA feature cars, 2017: The show within a show

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Rob Ida has carried on his father Bob’s passion for modifying and crafting hot rods, race cars, and other wheeled projects, and gained notoriety some years back for creating replicas of the famous Tucker 48. This one featured a twin-turbocharged Cadillac Northstar V-8. Photos by author.

Though it’s been held annually since 1967, the SEMA Convention was not always a haven for specially designed and built show cars. Even after coming to Las Vegas in 1977, custom display cars were sparse. But the last decade or so has seen an explosion of show cars, particularly since the areas outside the convention center were opened up for displays. Also during that time, the SEMA show has gained a much higher profile, thanks in no small part to the ever-evolving state of the digital world we live in. That means people from all over the world can now see in real time what was once reserved for industry insiders, and that’s made this event a hot spot for unveilings and debuts.

2018 Camaro COPO

General Motors always has a large booth with varied displays, and among the vehicles it brought was an example of the 2018 COPO Camaro, this one trimmed out with the Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary package. The metallic orange paint and the Hot Wheels package will both be offered to buyers of ’18 COPOs.

This year’s event, held last week, is said to have hosted something like 2,400 exhibiting companies and 170,000 people, and we can say, from being on the ground there for the entire week, that the crowds were as large as they’d ever been. Between the number of people attending and the vast array of new products on display, the automotive aftermarket and the enthusiast groups it serves would seem to be thriving.

1967 Porsche 911

The “outlaw” movement in the Porsche world involves building modified versions of the vaunted 356 and 911, often with cues harking to period racing models. One of the figures to emerge from this movement is Magnus Walker, who displayed this example of his work, the 67 SRT.

The show also provided the backdrop for around 1,500 show vehicles, between those in various booths, those arranged in display areas in the multiple halls, and those arranged in the outdoor areas outside of the halls. We managed to gather a number of images of the ones that caught our eyes during the week, and we’ve assembled some of them in a gallery for your perusal. If you have an interest in some sect of the car hobby, there was likely something at the event to get your attention. Take a look over the vehicles we captured in our travels last week.

1930 Ford Model A Tudor 1932 Ford Fordor 1932 Ford Roadster 1936 Ford Roadster custom 1939 Ford convertible 1954 DIVCO delivery truck 1955 Buick Special convertible 1957 Ford Ranch Wagon-Thumper 1962 Chrysler 300-Viper V-10 1962 Chrysler 300-Viper V-10 (rear) 1963 Corvette Grand Sport 6 1963 Porsche 356 1963 Rambler American 440 wagon 1964 Chevrolet Impala 1965 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza 1968 Chevrolet Camaro RS 1968 Chevrolet Camaro 1969 Chevrolet Camaro-Mark Stielow 1969 Dodge Charger 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle convertible 1970 Dodge Challenger Gen III Hemi 1970 Dodge pickup twin Cummins diesels 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle wagon 1972 Chevrolet Corvette-Menace 1979 Ford Mustang 1987 Chevorlet Monte Carlo SS Aero Coupe