The 2018 Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Association, more commonly known as SEMA holds an annual trade show in Las Vegas the first week of November. It is the largest automotive convention in the world, and it just keeps getting bigger. The caveat is that this show is not open to the public, so it is often shrouded in mystery, which is why you will see tons of show coverage during and after the event for the folks who can’t get in.
While it is not a car show, it’s a car show. One that just happens to have the largest manufacturer midway on the planet. While not every manufacturer has a booth on the floor, it seems like they do. From hard core race parts to cheap knock-offs, it can be found at the SEMA Show. The four-day event runs from Tuesday through Friday, and it is pure sensory overload. The booths are filled with wild cars and crazy displays, along with each company’s newest products. Step out of the main hall, and your vision is consumed by hundreds of custom builds. Everything from classic Cadillacs to Lamborghinis and every truck imaginable.
Trying to see everything at the 2018 SEMA Show is quite impossible, even for seasoned pros. Over the years, the SEMA Show has become an elite car show, so much so that builders spend months trying to get their high-end builds featured at the event. There are now even a few SEMA-Show awards, including the Mothers Shine award, Battle of the Builders, and the Masters of Motors award, which was new for 2018.
Between the booths and the cars, the new products can often get lost, but when it is a big item, the buzz is sure to be huge. Such was the case with the newest crate engine released from Chrysler, the Helliphant. This beast is a 426 ci HEMI crate engine which generates 1,000 horsepower and 960 ft lbs of torque through its supercharged design. This marks the first time a 1,000 hp engine has been made available by a OEM manufacturer as a crate engine.
The SEMA Show is the largest non-car show car show on the planet. While the main event is not open to the public, the afterparty known as SEMA Ignited, is. Held after the close of the show on Friday, you can line up to watch the cars parade from the convention hall to the Ignited grounds and check out all the cars from the SEMA Show and quite a few vendors too. It is a good time, so check the schedule for next year’s show and make arrangements. Besides, you know you want a weekend in Las Vegas anyway.
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A life-long gearhead, Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 4 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced.