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2013 SEMA Auto Show: Preview

  • It’s an aftermarket event, but auto manufacturers are here in force.
  • From replacement wheel rims to a complete makeover, there are plenty of ideas.
  • Expect debuts of new vehicles as well as new looks.

Whatever happens at the 2013 SEMA Auto Show in Las Vegas won’t stay in Vegas. Ideas, cars and aftermarket equipment will resonate throughout the car and truck world. And the motoring public will be able to buy most of it.

This annual, trade-only event attracts more than 130,000 industry professionals from around the world, as hundreds of exhibitors show off something like 2,000 new components, tools and parts. There are wheels, tires, aerodynamic parts, suspensions, accessories, concepts, gadgets and demonstrations. SEMA is a kaleidoscope of customization.

In the Real World

Changes made to a vehicle after its original purchase become part of the aftermarket. According to the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, the market was worth around $307 billion in 2012 and employed 4.7 million workers in the United States — that means plenty of customers doing something to personalize their rides.

It’s not always easy, though, to see an array of separate components in a catalog or online and then visualize them all working together. So manufacturers design and build a brace of concepts, cherry-picking various items that complement each other.


For example, Chrysler has its own aftermarket brand called Mopar (a compounding of “motor parts”). This year, the company has a stand of more than 20 modified vehicles, including the 2014 Chrysler 300, 2014 Jeep Cherokee, 2014 RAM pickup and 2014 FIAT 500L. The jewel in Mopar’s crown, though, could be the 2014 Dodge Challenger, aka Mopar ’14. It’s a limited-edition car incorporating more power and a track-tuned suspension.


Ford has the largest exhibition space: 27,000 square feet. That’s room for 57 vehicles. The 2014 Ford Mustang will have a presence in guises dreamed up by whatever tuning partners the Blue Oval has collaborated with this year. Even the workmanlike 2014 Ford Transit Connect will have its moment in the sun as part of this year’s Vandemonium theme. Customized versions of the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, F-150 and Super Duty should also delight show-goers.


The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado is represented by the Black Ops and Z71 Volunteer Firefighter concepts. Although unveiled at the recent Texas state fair, both deserve a second outing. The Z71 fire truck honors the service of grassroots first responders. Based on a Silverado Crew Cab 4×4, the Black Ops has body armor, a solar power pack, a military first aid kit, gas masks, rope and a folding shovel. “Whether it’s a hurricane … or other unforeseen emergency, it’s ready for anything,” said Chevrolet. The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7 is expected to make a strong showing this year. No doubt there will be countless iterations of the face-lifted 2014 Chevrolet Camaro, as well. SEMA and Camaro go together like peanut butter and jelly.


Buyers often use Scion vehicles as a canvas for self-expression because they are so reasonably priced to begin with. The car that has revitalized this marque is the 2014 Scion FR-S. This lively and popular compact coupe will be modeling many variations of exterior and interior treatments as part of the Scion Tuner Challenge, a regular attraction at SEMA shows.

The 2013 SEMA auto show takes place from Nov. 5 to 8. will report the highlights.

What it means to you: For anyone with an aversion to cookie-cutter cars, the 2013 SEMA Show is right up your colorful alley.

Colin Ryan
Colin Ryan specializes in writing about new cars. But he has also covered trucks, vans, 3-wheelers, even the occasional motorbike. That’s the kind of thing that happens while contributing to the Los Angeles Times, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Popular Mechanics, Variety, Mazda and Lexus customer magazines, as well as many enthusiast sites and publications. He was also a staff writer at BBC Top... Read More about Colin Ryan

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