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Auto Show:  2011 Sema Auto Show

Basketball-Themed Kia Optima, Optima Pace Car - SEMA Auto Show

author photo by Jeffrey Archer November 2011

At this year's SEMA show, Kia's theme was sports - and no model in its lineup showed that off more clearly than its basketball-themed Optima. Joining a hockey-themed Forte, a surfer's Rio5 and a Soul with a golfing motif, the extravagant Optima Hybrid stood out primarily due to its flashy exterior, which was designed to resemble the surface of a basketball.

Created by prominent aftermarket shop West Coast Customs, the basketball-themed Optima is designed to remind onlookers about the brand's relationship with L.A. Clippers forward Blake Griffin. Griffin, an NBA all-star, achieved considerable public renown by dunking over an Optima at this year's NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest, and has since signed on as a spokesman for the brand.

To boost awareness of Kia's tie-in with the star, the automaker installed Griffin's personal logo on the unique Optima's hood. Other exterior modifications include the exciting exterior finish, which distinctly resembles the dimples on a basketball, and 20-inch aftermarket matte black alloy wheels. Inside, the Optima includes basketball court flooring, custom leather seats that feature Griffin's embroidered signature, two flat screen TVs mounted behind the front headrests and a "Pop-A-Shot" basketball hoop fitted to the sedan's trunk.

"Our involvement in the world of sports has dramatically increased awareness and perception of the Kia brand, and together with some high-profile partners we have created a lineup of fun and eye-catching vehicles with unique backstories and plenty of personality," said Michael Sprague, Kia Motors America's vice president of marketing and communications.

But Kia's SEMA lineup wasn't all about sports. The automaker also unveiled a 2012 Optima Hybrid with eye-grabbing black and light green exterior trim that will replace the Soul as a pace car for the United States Touring Car Championship. Set to debut at the series' first race in March, the Optima pace car features a large rear wing, and an aero kit with a front splitter, traditional pace car light bars and a 2400-watt Infinity audio system, in addition to its unique color scheme.

See more coverage of the 2011 SEMA Auto Show.

JEFFREY ARCHER is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on
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Basketball-Themed Kia Optima, Optima Pace Car - SEMA Auto Show - Autotrader