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SEMA: 2 million square feet of stuff for car enthusiast’s who can’t leave well enough alone.

Las Vegas November 3, 2003
By Bob Gordon, Co-publisher

SEMA is an acronym for Specialty Equipment Market Association…a trade organization that represents the $27 billion dollar 5,222 member specialty automotive industry.

The 114,000 or so pre registered SEMA attendees are comprised of the men and women who populate the commercial supply chain that provides this car stuff to the millions of folks around the world who: build, Race, Install, Design, Fix, Educate, and just can’t seem to leave well enough alone.

To the Hot Rodders, Street Rodders, Rice Boys. Gear Heads, Pocket Rocketers, Customizers, Restylers, Restorers, Off Roaders, Modifiers, Light Truck aficionados; Cars as Fashion'ers and those who just can’t stand that their car looks like everyone else’s…the 900,000 sq feet of exhibit space is filled to the brim with products that can stir a car nut’s soul.

During a quick pre-opening walk around, I was dazzled by the number and sophistication of the 1800 or so exhibits…everything from a draped 10x10 with a clutch sitting on a table to Ford’s massive display which includes not only the current offerings from the Dearborn car maker but a number of concept and historic cars that strike a pleasant note in a car guy’s heart.

Each year a different featured manufacturer pays for the privilege of getting their name on the Las Vegas Convention center and the prime’est exhibit space with which to show off what in the eye of the average SEMA attendee is just the raw material that talent, imagination, and no small amount of money can help change from a showroom model into a work of art or a rocket ship… or both.

Jan Valentic VP of global marketing for Ford said it best…“ for us the SEMA show is the ultimate expression of human creativity and invention certainly a trait that has been passed down from our founder Henry Ford.”

But Ford is not the only car maker at the 2003 SEMA show, others showing their raw material include Daimler-Chrysler; GM (Pontiac, Saturn, Honda; Hummer, Buick (Buick?), GMC; Hyundai; Kia; Mazda; Mitusbishi; Nissan; Panoz; Subaru; and Toyota.

Unbelievable cars are everywhere…not only in show-off exhibits but in every nook and cranny of this marvelous facility. Attendees will literally run into more than more than 1500 project cars that have been transformed from already wonderful cars into even more wonderfuller (sic) cars. Pictures of these amazing cars and trucks will begin to appear here on The Auto Channel tomorrow…. So stay tuned.

SEMA has always been a ripe field that reflects future trends for the world’s showroom vehicles…over the years the vanguard of non corporate designers have led the way for the suits to follow. Design elements that first show up in a SEMA show-off car may some day be incorporated into an "edgy" showroom model. In fact some the manufacturers here are actually encouraging these brash designers to use production cars as a blank canvas by providing vehicles to be customized in ways most cannot even imagine.

What was once a strictly domestic industry has become a global affair with companies from virtually every industrial country exhibiting their specialty automotive products.

New Products, Fashion and Personalized Cars and Trucks...too bad you can't be here to enjoy it with me...but you can stay tuned for exciting descriptions and photography from SEMA