BY Drew Hardin
Elsewhere in this issue the guys will show you the latest and greatest parts from the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas, an extravaganza of new automotive products. My job at SEMA was to dig up the best — and worst — vehicle displays at the show.
BITCHIN: WRANGLER SAND TROOPER
Wrangler was acknowledged by SEMA as the “Hottest 4x4/SUV” at this year’s show, and one of the best — if not the best — Wrangler projects was on display in the Mopar booth. The Sand Trooper was built to showcase Mopar’s new Jeep Performance Parts line. Though the company is a little hazy right now as to what those parts will be exactly, we can hope they include the good stuff on the Sand Trooper: 5.7L Hemi conversion, portal axles, 42-inch Super Swamper Bogger tires on beadlock Power Wagon wheels, Fox shocks, lots of body armor, and a Warn winch. Mopar calls the Sand Trooper’s color Dune-in-Matte, which looks great on the four-door JK.
BOGUS: JEEP GRILLE SWAP
Jeep has fought long and hard to keep imposters from stealing or copying the iconic seven-slot grille. Why mess with success?
BITCHIN: OMIX-ADA SUCCESS CENTER
A gathering point for seminars and meetings during the show, the Success Center was ringed with an incredible display of Jeeps, including the CJ-7 that Mark Smith drove on the 1978 Expedicion de las Americas and Editor Pewe’s ’43 GPW jeep, which he drove to the show
BOGUS: FJ CRUISER TRD EDITION
When we heard TRD was building a Bajathemed FJ Cruiser for SEMA we hoped it would have the same impact as the Baja Tacoma. Imagine our surprise when we got to the Toyota booth and found this, looking tamer than most of the FJs we see in our neighborhood. Yes, there’s a supercharger underhood and Bilstein shocks at the corners, but, well, yawn.
BITCHIN: ALEXIS DEJORIA’S TUNDRA PRERUNNER
NHRA drag racer Alexis DeJoria, working with Racer Engineering, built a kick-ass Tundra prerunner as part of Toyota’s Dream Challenge competition (which she should have won, but didn’t). The custom-fabbed front suspension travels 20 inches (there’s 24 inches of travel in the rear), while a supercharged 5.7L V-8 underhood and 6.20 gears — with a spool in back — will get her down the arroyo in a hurry. If only it was four-wheel drive.
BITCHIN: ZIBAR MK2
What looks like a stripped-down Hummer is actually an Israeli import, built on a tube frame with a Dana 60 up front and a Dana 70 in back, rolling on 40-inch Maxxis tires, and powered by either an LS3 small-block or an LSX 454 crate motor. Production will soon begin in the U.S., though for now they are not legal to drive on the street. Not bitchin is the price, which starts at $120,000 for the LS3 version. Too rich for our budget, but the Zibar folks sold six of their paramilitary runabouts on the first day of the show.
Are these supposed to be vampire’s teeth? Bullets? Arrowheads? Whatever. Your 4x4 shouldn’t look like it wants to eat you.
BITCHIN/BOGUS: BIGFOOT 20
Odyssey Battery has been a longtime sponsor of the Bigfoot racing team, but that’s not the only reason the latest version of the original monster truck was in the Odyssey booth. Bigfoot 20 is driven by a custom-built electric motor powered by a whole bunch of Odyssey batteries — 36 to be exact. We’re torn about this one. While we like the idea of the ever-innovative Bob Chandler shaking up the monster truck scene with something completely different, we’re going to miss the distinctive crackling roar of a big-cube engine gulping methanol. Will Bigfoot 20 be as fun to watch if it sounds like a giant R/C model?
BOGUS: CHEVY DISPLAY
Sure, plenty of hot cars were wearing the Bow Tie at SEMA this year, but the only truck in the whole Chevrolet booth was this lame “concept” Avalanche with some graphics and skis on the roof. We’re losing Avalanche this year, and it deserved a better sendoff. Plus, since GM is just months away from unveiling an all-new half-ton pickup truck, SEMA would have been the perfect place to show off a disguised teaser version. Epic fail, Chevy.
BITCHIN: CUMMINS-POWERED VINTAGE POWER WAGONS
Icon and Legacy Conversions seem to be kick-starting a trend with their Power Wagon projects. The Icon truck (left) is a modern Ram 3500-series pickup under the ’65 sheetmetal, powered by a 5.9 Cummins hopped up with Banks speed parts. The Legacy truck was built by grafting two cabs together, then taking the truck through a complete rotisserie restoration and fitting it with a 3.9L Cummins. We couldn’t find a price for the Icon, but a Legacy crew-cab conversion will set you back about $170,000. Not bitchin.