To throw a party of appreciation for its exhibitors, to give them and others a sneak peek at what’s happening the following day, and to shorten the opening-morning awards breakfast, SEMA kicks off its annual auto show in Las Vegas with the Monday Reveal.
The evening outdoors in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center includes live music — this year from Patrick & LVB, as in Emmy Award-winner Patrick Sieben and the Las Vegas Band — food, the SEMA Awards and, in a taste of what awaits when the show opens Tuesday morning, the parading of several cars across an elevated stage.
The annual SEMA Awards are presented to the vehicles in various classes judged “best lend to customization.” This year they were:
Car: Ford Mustang
Truck: Chevrolet Silverado
Sport compact: Audi RS3 (the first SEMA Award for Audi)
4×4 SUV: Jeep Wrangler (for the 10th year in a row)
Powersport: Polaris Razor XP Ultimate
Four customized vehicles took turns on the stage.
The first was “Double Deluxe,” a 1967 Volkswagen Transporter double cab pickup modified by David Kindig. The custom touches include the windows in the roof, a sliding sun roof, air suspension and a fourth door on a vehicle built with only three.
Next up was a new Ford F250 Super Duty pickup displayed by Ford to show off 35-inch wheels, off-road suspension and the new Warn winch that will become a dealer-installed option.
After yet another musical interlude, the Hyundai Velostar Grap Ler took to the stage. “If you lift a sports car for gravel roads it’s still a sports car,” said a Hyundai official. Thus the Velostar R-spec turbo equipped with “ruggedized” accessories and a camping tent.
Last but certainly not last in the parade was a car so unusual in appearance that SEMA is the obvious place for it to be shown. It was a 2019 Dodge Hellcat but with a new 1968 Dodge Charger body produced in carbon fiber. Or at least half of such a body, because while the driver’s side was finished, the passenger’s side was exposed without the bodywork.
The car is a project of Hotchkis Sport Suspension and is being build to support the SEMA PAC, the automotive aftermarket manufacturers political arm.
Chevrolet also took a turn on the stage, displaying its mid-engine C8 Corvette convertible and the C8R Corvette race car that makes its competitive debut in January in the 24 Hours of Daytona. It also showed a 1962 C-10 pickup converted to electric power via an eCrate concept motor.
The 2019 SEMA Show opens Tuesday morning and runs through Friday afternoon. Though a trade show closed to the public, at the show’s conclusion the cars displayed drive away from the convention center and into nearby parking lot for an open-to-the-public afterglow show.