SEMA 2016: 50th Anniversary of the (almost) greatest car show on Earth



Lifted, lowered, electric and eclectic, the SEMA show has something for everyone. 50 years ago, in the basement at Dodger Stadium, the first-ever Specialty Equipment Market Association was held. From five displays in 1967, to over a million square feet of cars, booths, and events today, the SEMA show has become a giant extravaganza not to be missed.

SEMA was originally intended for those with aftermarket parts, but has morphed over the past 20 years to include a lot of OEMs showing off unique performance and appearance parts and packages for their vehicles. Giant displays by Ford and GM highlight everything from compact racers to over-the-top trucks, plus myriad Mustangs and copious Camaros. Kia, Hyundai, and Honda were out in force as well, introducing unique concepts for their various models.

Celebrities, racers, and builders signed everything, took tons of photos, and received and presented numerous awards. If we fully covered the week-long event that fills the Las Vegas Convention Center, we’d be at maximum bandwidth for the site. So we’ll just hit some of the highlights. While the SEMA show is closed to the public, you can still check out the hundreds of cars at the outside display areas. Find a way to be here next year, it’s a bucket list item for the true car enthusiast.

In case you were wondering what’s hot this year, SEMA started the show by selecting five of the hottest vehicles in the market for customization. The Ford Mustang won for Hottest Coupe, the Dodge Charger took the Hottest Sedan title, the compact Ford Focus won Hottest Hatch, Jeep’s venerable Wrangler was awarded Hottest SUV, and Ford completed its trifecta with the Ford F-Series as the Hottest Truck.



Kia Motors America brought four fun concepts to the SEMA show, all following a theme of autonomous vehicles. What we could do if we didn’t have to drive.

Niro Triathlon

Niro Triathlon is designed for those who are actively active with their activities.

Niro Triathalon

Although the Niro isn’t on sale yet, this hybrid becomes the ultimate crossover lifestyle ride, designed with customer bike rack, tablet computer, and tollbox. It’s a true go anywhere vehicle, and it offers this versatility because the roof from the D-pillars back was removed, making it more of a sorta kinda pickup with a small bed. The B-pillar also was removed, to make room for a zero gravity ergonomic reclining chair so you can recuperate from your hard ride as the vehicle drives you back home.

School of Rock Sedona

School of Rock Sedona isn’t your mother’s soccer van. A rolling recording studio is the dream of every up-and-coming musician.

School of Rock Sedona

As you know, we are partial to the Kia Sedona MPV, and love that this may have been the only modified minivan at the show. This Sedona has been transformed into a rolling recording studio, with a digital mixing board, a giant speaker stack, and an illuminated recording light that warns those outside that a live studio is in session. Kia’s been associated with the School of Rock for some time now, and we love that this concept proves that given enough space, a van can do anything. See the inspiration for the development of this special Sedona in this video.

Sorento Ski Gondola makes its own tracks. Roads are optional.

Sorento Ski Gondola makes its own tracks. Roads are optional.

Sorento Ski Gondola

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!” That famous line from Back to the Future can be applied here with the Sorento Ski Gondola. Dominator Rubber Tracks replace tires, which means no chains, no problem. Pull out the B-pillar, drop in some suicide doors, add a storage rack on top and custom door panels to hold boots and other ski accoutrements, and head up to the slopes, no matter how deep the snowfall.

Soul First Class is all about going the distance in style.

Soul First Class is all about going the distance in style.

Soul First Class

While the Soul already has a legion of faithful followers, this inter-city ride is the ultimate commuter car. Built by LUX Motorwerks, it’s a get in and go ride, with rear-facing seats, 40-inch Samsung LED TV, gray wood floor, and all the luxury you’d expect in a much more expensive ride.

  • johnrider

    I need to go to SEMA.