Auto makers, aftermarket parts and components suppliers, warehouse distributors, automobile customizers, hot rod builders and just about every auto-based media outlet you can imagine descends on Las Vegas every year for the Specialty Automotive Market Association (SEMA) trade show to see what’s new and hot.
This is the 51st year of the SEMA Show. As the organization explains, “It all began in 1963 when a group of small manufacturers of performance equipment for early hot rods organized their fledgling industry and called it ‘Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association’ (SEMA). The mission was practical and straightforward: develop uniform standards for certain products used in motorsports competition; promote the industry as a supplier to consumers involved in constructive activities of recreational and hobbyist value; develop programs to encourage improved business practices among member companies; and hold regular meetings to achieve unity as a business organization. In those days, all of the members were founders of companies that produced speed equipment exclusively (hence, the organization’s title). SEMA eventually became the Specialty Equipment Market Association, embracing within its ranks all businesses in the distribution chain: manufacturers, warehouse distributors, jobbers, independent retailers, volume retailers, specialty stores (speed shops), sales agents, subcontractors and publishing companies. The membership categories even include racing teams, car clubs and special service organizations. The SEMA membership roster has steadily grown and continues its upward climb. Today there are more than 6,382 corporate members. Products supplied by the industry are in demand not only in the United States, but also throughout the world.”
In other words, what started out as a small group of performance parts makers has turned into what SEMA reports as a $29.9 billion per year industry.
Ford Social asked me to visit the show and give my input into the most significant Ford vehicles here, in my opinion at least, and bring them to you. That’s a harder task than it sounds because the amount of space this show covers is enormous—it not only consumes the expansive Las Vegas Convention Center, but also the outside parking lots and several other venues around the city!
I found eight Ford vehicles that stood out among the crowd, but there are many more to see so this is just a taste of what the SEMA Show offers for fans of the Blue Oval. My personal favorites of the show range from factory concept vehicles to one-off custom builds, and one of the most impressive to me was the 1965 Galaxie built by Kindig Designs. This classic Ford family sedan features incredible custom workmanship with some modern touches and won a Ford Design Award at the show. Also of big interest was the new Ford Transit Connect designed in conjunction with Hot Wheels® and built by Ice Nine Group. This is a fully custom Transit Connect that will be made into a Hot Wheels® car for sale in the future so that younger fans can get to know the vehicle long before they can even get a driver’s license! There were also some great examples of how the aftermarket industry has embraced Ford products both new and old with parts and supplies, and even completely new, all-steel reproduction bodies that are licensed through Ford.
Click here to see more Ford action from the 2013 SEMA Show on Ford Social.
Rob Kinnan is the former editor of HOT ROD magazine and has extensive experience in writing about performance and custom vehicles.