SEMA 2023 CoverageNovember 3, 2023
It’s that time again– SEMA 2023 is officially in the books, and we’re rounding up some of the coolest, craziest, most customized rides to make an appearance. From all-new models to restomodded oldies, here’s our take on this year’s show!
This year’s show sees a strong presence from sibling brands Toyota and Lexus. Some of their special builds include the FJ Bruiser, a 1966 FJ45 turned modern rock-crawler, and the FJ Retro Cruiser, a ‘67 FJ45 Land Cruiser Wagon that has actually been around the block for the last 25 years or so. Toyota is also packing the X-Runner concept, built around the all-new 2024 Tacoma, and the Blue Beetle Tacoma, which serves as a tie-in to the titular Warner Bros. film.
Other Toyota vehicles include a range of new 2024 Tacomas, some of the new Land Cruisers, and a number of GR performance editions– namely, the GR Corolla, GR Supra 45th Anniversary Edition and the GR86 Trueno Edition.
The Lexus lineup is a little more subdued, but still one worth checking out, especially if you’re an overlander at heart. Their side of the show features a 2022 GX 460 Premium AAP build, built in a custom matte yellow with all the off-road accessories you could ask for. It’s joined by a 2022 LX 600 Premium AAP and, more excitingly, a 2024 GX 550 Overtrail+ AAP build.
For those unaware, the GX received a pretty substantial redesign for 2024. Even in its stock form, the GX looks fit for just about any trail. This custom spin takes that to a whole new level, featuring 33-inch Toyo A/T tires on 18-inch wheels, genuine Lexus aftermarket accessories, and a bunch of aftermarket off-road solutions. We’re talking rear window accessory panels, a roof rack and ladder roof access, all from Prinsu.
We already discussed Ford Performance’s FP800S concept package and their upcoming third-gen Whipple supercharger kit for the 2024 Mustang GT, so we won’t spend too much time on that. Just know that this kit will boost horsepower up from 480 to “at least” 800, be it a six-speed manual or 10-speed automatic equipped pony. The Dark Horse will receive its own kit next year.
Not to be outdone in the overlanding realm, the Blue Oval has arrived with ORV (Off-Road Vehicle) packages for the Ranger and Bronco– that is, the 2024 Ranger which, as you may already know, is all-new. The Ranger’s ORV concept package includes an ARB overland suspension kit, new bumpers with recovery points, and a series of available accessories (like an onboard air compressor, SOLIS lights and a 47-quarter fridge/freezer).
The Bronco package is a bit different, starting with a Bilstein 2.0-inch lift, carried by 17-inch wheels wrapped by 35-inch tires. Even more interesting, Ford Performance saw fit to recalibrate the Bronco ORV’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-banger with a unique tune. Options include a Borla cat-back exhaust, an ARB jack and mount, and an underhood compressor.
SEMA is also the place to flex aftermarket accessories, be them functional or aesthetic. There are too many to go over, but just know that Bronco, Bronco Sport, F-150, Mustang and Explorer customers will have great options for special graphics in ‘24.
Hyundai’s presence is a little light, but what they’ve brought is quite interesting. This is the 2024 Kona Jayde Concept. Based on the all-new Kona, it shows off what this urban crossover is capable of becoming with enough meddling.
The headlining feature here is the blue wrap covering the exterior, contrasted by black aero elements across the lower edge of its body. The wheels are custom, 20×9 one-piece designs from HRE, finished in black and covered by 235/40/ZR20 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tires. That’s some serious compound for this crossover!
In a sea of lifted SUVs, the Kona Jayde stands out, lowered 2-inches thanks to Eibach springs. Inside, the interior is predominantly white, with the standout feature being those plaid-covered RECARO sport buckets. Inside, a portable charger and an inverter help juice up any appliances you may have with you.
Honestly, we don’t expect many Kona buyers to venture this far into the world of aftermarket customization. But, it’s interesting to see what could be.
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Z’s return into the sports car spotlight, and we’re sure many of those bought will be modified in some way, shape or form. Though, those will likely all be for the streets. How about for a rally?
Nissan is hitting SEMA with two Z-based rally stars: the Safari Rally Z Tribute and a replica Datsun 240Z Safari rally.
The modern machine is a thorough reimagining of what a modern Z Safari would look like. It features a 2-inch lift, 17×7.5 prototype NISMO Safari wheels and Yokohama GEOLANDAR M/T G003 tires. Underneath, Tommy Pike and his team have outfitted the Z Safari with extra protection; up top, LED lights and a sweet custom livery. The interior features special 4-point harnesses and a roll bar, joined by RECARO seats. Best of all, under the hood is a 400+ horsepower engine backed by NISMO exhaust, a cold air intake and a number of performance dealings.
The old timer is one of legends– or, at least, pays tribute to said legends. It’s a replica of the #11 Datsun 240Z Safari which won the 1971 East African Safari Rally, piloted by Edgar Hermann and navigated by Hans Schüller. They brought their Datsun across 3,800 miles of brutal and varying terrain, and while this isn’t quite the original… dang, it’s cool.
We’ve been mentioning the aftermarket seat manufacturer quite a bit during this round-up, so it’s only fair to point out that RECARO itself is present at SEMA.
Not only that, but RECARO is celebrating 60 years of putting butts in buckets, which we actually covered earlier this year. The big thing to know here is that the brand is in force with a wide range of products, including those made from recycled carbon fiber race shells, heritage seats for Fox Body Mustangs, seats for racing simulations and more.
Custom car builder and parts manufacturer Ringbrothers is back at SEMA with some crazy concoctions. This year, they’re spotlighting a custom 1965 Mustang convertible, “UNCAGED,” and a Hellephant-powered ‘69 Charger, “TUSK,” among other things.
UNCAGED is actually a companion to last year’s “CAGED” build, another convertible Mustang. This year’s build starts with something sinister– a Coyote V8 crate engine from Ford Performance, mated to Ford’s 10R80 10-speed automatic. It’s built atop a Roadster Shop FAST TRACK chassis, joined by Penske Racing coilovers front and back with independent rear suspension. Baer brakes are covered by custom 18-inch wheels and Continental tires. The body has been widened by about an inch, and various garnishes have been redesigned to fit the new vibe. You may note the lowered and extended rockers, as well as the custom front valance. It’s all covered in a “Burgundy Brave” paint scheme, thematically tied to various chrome and stainless steel elements.
More of a “MOPAR or no car” kinda vibe? That’s cool– TUSK is right up your alley. Taking a supposed 5,000 hours of labor, this ‘69 Charger is an insane piece of engineering.
As mentioned, the big draw here is the 1,000 horsepower Hellephant crate engine under the hood. That’s a 7.0-liter supercharged V8, and it also sends up to 950 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. And guess what? It’s sent back through a TREMEC T-56 Magnum six-speed manual transmission. The carbon-fiber driveshaft and 9-inch rear end ensure power makes it to the pavement.
Every piece is said to have been customized by Ringbrothers. The front valance and chin spoiler, for example, are in-house designs, and the front and rear bumpers have been tucked and narrowed for a more imposing design. Fans of the classic Charger may note the removal of the windshield cowl vents, reshaped rear quarter caps, lowered rockers and plenty more. Inside there’s leather, carbon, and a pistol grip shifter. Oh, and a modern HVAC system for good measure.