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SEMA Seen: Hot-rodders amping up

Electrification appears to be the next big thing in vehicle customization


The SEMA Show is the place to see emerging automotive trends. At the 2021 edition of the automotive aftermarket showcase, the trend to see was electrification. 

Not only did Ford and Chevrolet use vintage vehicles to display their ideas for eCrate powertrains — Ford’s already on sale, Chevy’s to come — but a variety of independent companies also had electric conversions and specially constructed vehicles to show.

SEMA Show organizers even devoted a special area of floorspace to what it labeled “SEMA Electrified.” 

Following are some of the vehicles and conversions seen at the show:

Lanark DS

This one-off build is a collaboration between Drew Scott of HGTV’s Property Brothers and Ant Anstead, mechanic and builder partner in the revival of the Radford. Powered by a Tesla motor, the car has a one-piece composite body on a tubular space-frame chassis and weighs only 2,600 pounds.  The cockpit is a little tight (batteries are positioned down the middle of the car), but the car reportedly hits 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and has a range of more than 300 miles, which means it could be driven from LA to the Vegas Strip before needing a recharge. The car will be featured in December on Discovery+ as part of the Drew Scott’s Dream Car series.

Electrified 1966 Buick Electra 225

SEMA Seen: Hot-rodders amping up
SEMA, SEMA Seen: Hot-rodders amping up, ClassicCars.com Journal

Another Discovery+ show is Celebrity IOU: Joyride, which in one episode featured actor James Marsden, whose longtime friend (and former brother-in-law) Will Linde had to sell his grandmother’s dilapidated Buick. Marsden and the IOU crew not only restored the Buick, with features such as a carbon-fiber hood, but with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. 

Switch Electric Vehicle Kit

SEMA Seen: Hot-rodders amping up

Switch Vehicles manufactures 3-wheel electric vehicles as built-it-yourself kits for schools to use. The company also stages workshops so teachers in auto shop, engineering, physics, robotics and maker classes can learn what they need to then teach their students as they assemble the school’s EV. Switch says the kits are designed to be built and driven, but then disassembled for use by a new class the following semester. The company provides a curriculum designed for a 17-week semester, an 8-week after-school activity, or a 2-week “intensive summer course.”

Solo Crassodon

SEMA Seen: Hot-rodders amping up

ElectraMeccanica displayed two of its 3-wheel, single-seater EVs at SEMA — the Solo O2 and the Solo Crassodon. The company has sales outlets in five Western states and offers its basic Solo model for $18,500. The company notes that “80 percent of drives are done alone. Solo has everything you need. Nothing you don’t.”

Team Vesco’s ‘Little Giant’

SEMA Seen: Hot-rodders amping up

Famed Bonneville racers Team Vesco has been running this streamliner since 1957, using various internal-combustion engines until earlier this year, when it became an electro-mod using a Tesla-based electric powertrain installed by Revolt Systems. So equipped, the car set a national speed record for EVs, hitting 353.870 mph on the Salt Flats.

EV West 

SEMA, SEMA Seen: Hot-rodders amping up, ClassicCars.com Journal

Seeking an on-land experience that compared favorably with ocean surfing, Michael Bream graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in computer engineering and founded Gravity Skateboards in 1994. Some 16 years later, he started electrifying vintage automobiles and launched EV West, and two years after that set an EV record at Pikes Peak. EV West has emerged as a major supplier of electro-mod powertrains. At SEMA, EV West showed its electric-powered Salt Flats racer and an electric-powered Volkswagen Thing, and Kincer Chassis displayed a vintage Ford Bronco equipped with an EV West powertrain.

Wyld motorcycle

SEMA, SEMA Seen: Hot-rodders amping up, ClassicCars.com Journal

Legacy EV displayed a couple of its 4-wheeled electro-mods, but the vehicle on that stand that caught our attention had only a pair of wheels, an electric-powered Wyld motorcycle by Australian company Barletta

Electric GT Porsche eGT 913

SEMA, SEMA Seen: Hot-rodders amping up, ClassicCars.com Journal

Electric GT has developed electric powertrain systems for plug-and-play installation in a variety of cars, replacing 4-, 6- and 8-cylinder liquid-fueled engines with eCrate systems rated from 170 to 400 horsepower. Among its show cars at SEMA was this Porsche, which it calls the eGT 913.

Webb Motorworks crate motor

Webb Motorworks also does electric conversions, but it disguises its electric motors to look like good old-fashioned, factory-installed V8 or V12, even flatheads. “Add your own stock valve covers, spark plugs, distributor wires, water pump or headers,” the company says on its website. “You can even install your stock exhaust manifold and hollowed-out carburetor.”

Hypercraft off-road racer

SEMA, SEMA Seen: Hot-rodders amping up, ClassicCars.com Journal

Hypercraft teamed with the veteran Gesier Brothers racing team to create “the world’s first unlimited EV desert race truck.” The vehicle’s electric powertrain, scheduled for release early in 2022, reportedly will provide 1,600 horsepower.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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