Horror Shows From SEMA

Car Culture

The highlights of the lowlights of SEMA.

For those of you that have somehow missed the sudden torrent of material that pours out of websites and social media every year, SEMA stands for Specialty Equipment Market Association. SEMA is a big deal because it represents and serves companies worldwide and deals with everything from professional development and education to legislative and regulatory advocacy and business development.

The group hosts trade shows all the time, but the biggest SEMA event each year is the trade show that takes place in Las Vegas. It's also one of the biggest conventions that takes place each year in Vegas. It actually started at the Dodger Stadium in California before moving to Anaheim Stadium, but by 1977 it had gotten so big it needed to go to the Vegas Convention Center.

Although it is a trade show for the automotive aftermarket, it has become a large cultural touchstone and seen some incredible cars built by aftermarket companies to show off their skills and merchandise. However, as the main SEMA show has gotten bigger and bigger, there are now often some complete horror shows of cars that end up on display. Whether it's because people just have awful taste or because they've had a great idea and ended up having the build rushed and it just didn't come out as intended, the result is often the same. These are some of the highlights of the lowlights of the SEMA show.

La Mona Lisa

Unfortunately, this one is hard to top. What you're looking at, we believe anyway, is a slammed RAM truck with a digital puke paint job topped off with an airbrushed picture of the Mona Lisa. Except, the Mona Lisa has Megan Fox's face. Anything we know about the concept of this is pure speculation, but we suspect some acid trips while repeat watching Fast and Furious and Transformers movies are likely a contributing factor. This wasn't from the early 2000s though. This horror show was at SEMA in 2014.

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Engraved Subaru WRX STI

Kuhl Racing presented this beauty at SEMA in 2016. The engraving could have been kind of cool, but any degree of class it could have had has been destroyed by the spray and pray approach to a body kit. That can be put down to bad taste, but the random addition of those blue wheels is simply baffling. The effort they brought the previous year, well, that's a different story.

Nissan Kicks Sound Machine

Nothing says you're down with the kids like turning a car into a mobile DJ booth, right? That's what Nissan thought when they partnered with the Hollywood-based company Vehicle Effects. The specs on the sound system are actually pretty wild. However, the concept is a lazy and outdated cliche that really needs to go away now. Which is a shame, because the Kicks is a great modern car.

Superman Chrysler 300

If a child did this, then it's awesome. However, your average pre-teen isn't going to have the money or the fabrication skills to do this. They probably would have gotten bored and realized it just wasn't looking very good and left it before it was finished and wandered off to go play Pokemon. Someone persevered and saw it through to the end though, and it's hard to understand why.

Preval Range Rover

All we can gather about this is that Preval is, or most likely was, a Chicago company that turned this Range Rover into a fake woody. It's fake because the paneling is made of 3D hand sculpted epoxy. The weirdness doesn't stop there though. Inside, the floor is wood underfoot rather than being carpeted. There's more detail, but all you really need to know to get the picture is that the company that did the entertainment system is called Soundz Good. That's right, Soundz with a Z and this was at SEMA in 2013.

Trust us here, there are way better things you can do with a classic Range Rover.

Lurid Rolls Royce

Feast your eyes on this horrific Rolls Royce also from SEMA 2013. Except it's not a Rolls Royce. Not even close. It is, of course, a Chrysler 300. Why? We're asking the same question, and we can only hope it was intended as satire digging at the idea of the Chrysler 300 being a poor person's Rolls Royce. Unfortunately, we suspect the poor man's Roller is devoid of irony and just a very sad waste of effort.

Peak Chrysler 300

When it comes to gaudy and tasteless custom cars, you can always rely on people doing their worst to a Chrysler 300. This one was at SEMA in 2013, and we couldn't find much about it except a for sale advert in 2014. Chances are, like many SEMA cars, it was hammered together in a hurry for the show then taken to a few more before being sold.

Bedazzled Engines

This is what led us down the internet rabbit hole that ended in this article being put together in the first place. Proform has turned their engine bedazzling into a SEMA ritual, and it represents what the SEMA show has turned into perfectly. They are showy, gaudy, and ultimately pointless. The Ford crate engine is decorated with over 13,000 Swarovski crystals, and absolutely nobody is better off for knowing that fact.

Patriot Truck

Are you American? Do you consider yourself a patriot? Maybe even served, or are currently serving in the military? If so, don't worry if you throw up a little in your mouth after seeing this, you are still a patriot and nobody should doubt your allegiance to the flag. You can still be a patriot and understand that the builder's heart is in the right place while acknowledging it's also a cartoonish, ham-fisted, attempt at honoring the men and women in uniform that sacrifice for their country. The icing on the cake here is the holographic display that projects 3D images to float in the air several feet behind the truck.

Squid Scion xB

This list could easily have been made up of one-third Chrysler 300 and two-thirds Scion xB. This xB showed up in 2010 and was built by The Salty Dogs. While it was probably supposed to evoke Japanese Anime, it comes off more Sponge Bob than anything. It also goes down the road marked cliche by using plenty of gold paint and a Christmas tree's worth of red and green LEDs and a couple of thousand watts worth of sound system.

Corvette Menace

Some people are going to argue against this one, but the reality is that it looks like a cheap toy version of a C3 Corvette that hasn't been officially licensed by Chevrolet. It has all the cliches a 14 year old boy could throw at it as well, including unnecessary vents, 'futuristic' headlights, and tacky piece of aero stuck on the trunk.

Takeda San Infiniti Q45

From what we gather, this car is a big deal in Japan and has featured on the cover of a big time VIP magazine. This build is definitely on the extreme side of the extreme niche, and while it's impossible to deny the amount of work that has gone into it, it's just one big hot mess of a car built by someone that didn't know when to stop.

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