Each year, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) hosts one of the largest automotive equipment and car shows in the country. Held in deliciously decadent Sin City (where else, right?), the SEMA Show has become such a big deal that aftermarket suppliers, tuners, hot-rod builders and even mainstream carmakers wrench tirelessly all year to craft the most elaborate machines they can imagine in hopes of showing each other up at the Las Vegas Convention Center. SEMA 2009 featured some of the craziest custom machinery we've seen to date, including a Subaru STI with tank tracks and a midengine Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Here are our picks for the 10 most outlandish from the flashiest city on the planet.
01) Ken Block’s Trax Subaru STI
Subaru has built its reputation on products that are capable on any terrain — including snow and ice. Rally driver Ken Block and DC Shoes took that reputation to extremes by fitting a heavily modified WRX STI with Trax — a tank-tread-like system that gives the car plenty of ground clearance and the ability to conquer everything in its path. Block says the car was built for frolicking around in the backcountry where there are no roads, and we're having a hard time coming up with a car better-suited for that task.
02) 2010 Ford Mustang RTR-C
Drift racer extraordinaire Vaughn Gittin Jr. has embraced the 2010 Ford Mustang like few others out there. The guy brought a slew of modified ponies to SEMA, but few stood out like the RTR-C. In this case, that C stands for carbon fiber, the material that makes up the entirety of the car's outer shell. If that's not crazy enough for you, there's a 550-horsepower, snarling V8 engine under the lightweight hood. Given the weight savings and the additional power, this thing should be able to embarrass more than its share of stoplight contenders. Of course, the price tag of $135,000 may well embarrass some RTR-C owners, too.
03) Jeep Lower Forty Concept
The Jeep Lower Forty Concept has been bumming around for a while now, but that doesn't stop it from being any less impressive in the flesh, er, sheet metal. The name comes from the mammoth 40-inch tires with which this modified Jeep Wrangler is equipped — good for overcoming fallen trees, boulders and most livestock. Mopar Underground fitted this wild creation with hard-core off-roading equipment such as a Dana 44 front axle and Dana 60 rear, a beefy roll cage and a huge 5.7-liter V8 engine. A 6-speed manual transmission puts power to those epic tires.
04) Lingenfelter T/A Concept
Predictably, this year's SEMA faithful were nostalgic for now-defunct Pontiac — a brand that fell under General Motors' bankruptcy ax earlier this year. The super-tuners from Lingenfelter took it upon themselves to keep the Trans Am name alive with a creation that started life as a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro. The car seems to have suffered a bad attack of fiberglass with late '70s-inspired bodywork and geometric wheels. The tribute is more than skin deep, though, as the 455-cubic-inch V8 engine under the hood produces a lofty 655 horsepower — quite a bit more than the dyno figures worked up by post-gas-crisis Pontiac.
05) Toyota Tacoma All-Terrain Gamer
We like video games. We like cars. Sometimes, when the product is the Forza or Gran Turismo series, we like it when the two meet. But with the Tacoma All-Terrain Gamer, Toyota has proved just what can go wrong when the auto and digital worlds tango. Looking like a cross between a middle-schooler's daydream and West Coast Customs' latest creation, the gull-wing-equipped truck packs four Xbox gaming systems, plenty of flat-screen TVs and a Monster Energy drink dispenser. There's even a 60-inch flat-panel screen that mounts in the truck's receiver hitch so spectators can watch the gaming action from behind.
06) Ford EcoBoost Coupe
Old-school hot-rod guys live and die by the mantra "there's no replacement for displacement," meaning where a small engine is good, a larger one is always better. But Ford is out to stand that line of thinking on its head with its new twin-turbocharged V6 engine — a powerplant that sips fuel like a V6 while putting out V8 power. The company wedged the new high-tech EcoBoost engine into a classic '34 Ford Coupe body. With 400 horsepower and plenty of custom tricks, this is one slick sled. Something tells us hot-rodders aren't going to be swapping their big blocks for V6 power any time soon, but the car is still a great way to get the EcoBoost point across. Kudos, Ford.
07) Rhys Millen RM460 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
If you happen to follow the world of drift racing, you know who Rhys Millen is. The guy splits his time between building winning race cars and driving them — sideways. Recently, Millen has taken a liking to the new Hyundai Genesis Coupe, and for this year's SEMA show, he cooked up something really special — a midengine version of the Korean sports car. The creation packs a 500-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 engine mounted behind the front seats. Aside from a nearly completely custom rear section, the car also sports unique bodywork, 20-inch wheels and a sport-oriented interior.
08) Brandon Leung Scion xB
The death of Pontiac means the El Camino is likely dead for good — a fact that probably doesn't hurt most people's feelings. But for the seven of you who miss the weird car/truck mashup, talented tuner/car designer Brandon Leung has just what you need — a Camino-bodied Scion xB. Channeling copious amounts of mid-'50s retro cool, the car's big dish wheels, custom wood-lined bed and 2-tone paint make this Scion the pinnacle of swank. We wouldn't hold our breath for a factory-backed version, but it's still cool to see what a driven car builder can come up with when given the dictum "the sky's the limit."
09) Ford F-150 SVT Raptor XT
How do you make one of the year's toughest off-road racers even meaner? You throw in all the equipment that buyers need to tackle some of the world's most grueling race courses — the Baja 1000 and Baja 500. Like the Super Cobra Jet Mustang, the F-150 SVT Raptor XT is designed to be a factory-built, turn-key racer. That's right — you can buy this truck straight from your local dealer. Aside from having a full complement of safety equipment onboard, the truck has more suspension travel than a standard Raptor and makes 500 horsepower from a 6.2-liter V8 engine. Only 50 will be built, and each one carries a $99,950 price tag.
10) TAC-V Jamma
TAC-V bills the Jamma as the ultimate rapid-deployment vehicle. We think it just got lost on the way to a defense contractor's convention. Looking like the Humvee's gangly, awkward younger brother, the Jamma uses a compartmentalized driving position in order to keep the pilot out of the passengers' lines of fire. If you think that's scary, this beast can be fitted with any number of drivetrains — from internal combustion to hybrid electric. TAC-V says the Jamma can also be built for civilian off-road duty. You know, in the event of a "Red Dawn"-type scenario where our enemies invade the continental U.S. Go Wolverines!
Source: MSN Autos