SEMA Roundup: Our Take on the Week’s Custom Cars
Four days. One hundred thousand visitors. Two thousand vendors. The Specialty Equipment Market Association converges upon the Las Vegas Convention Center once a year to show off the future aftermarket equipment bound to be bolted on to tomorrow’s cars. In more recent years, automakers have jumped on the bandwagon to showcase their factory-supported extras you can pick up at dealerships and car shops for a nominal cost. Some manufacturers also use SEMA to gauge reactions on upcoming products and, if the reception proves positive, can actually lead to regular production.We’ve mulled through the automakers’ custom cars for the 2011 SEMA show to get the nitty gritty and see whether any of this year’s crop of cars has a shot at seeing the light of day. Here are some of the highlights:Corvette Carlisle Blue Grand Sport Concept The 2012 model year is the Corvette’s last year of production before receiving a major overhaul. Chevrolet is pulling out all the stops with this special edition Corvette concept that features neato Carlisle blue paint, a new Bose audio system, gray-painted brake calipers, and the top-level 4LT package on a car that commemorates the Corvettes at Carlisle gathering, the biggest annual Corvette event in the nation, held every year in Carlisle, Penn. Coolest feature: Who would have thought baby blue would look so good on a Corvette?Making it to production? Even if Chevy doesn’t call it a special edition, expect the color and other improvements to make it to showrooms in the sixth-generation Corvette’s last hurrah.Fiat 500 Titanium Fiat quits acting cute and instead makes a Fiat 500 that comes across as a little more sinister. Draped in black with the chrome bits tinted black, it’s subdued, and yet it makes the vehicle come across as so much more mature. All of the other touches are subtle from the cold-air intake and strut brace for better handling to the 500’s lowering springs. Coolest feature: All of the parts on this car will be available from Chrysler’s Mopar parts unit.Making it to production? No, but we’re holding out for other versions of the 500, including the Abarth.Focus by COBB Tuning Anyone who follows in the Subaru enthusiast community knows what COBB Tuning is. A longtime performance booster for that brand, now COBB is branching out to the Ford community with a turbocharged version of the Ford Focus. With a host of hop-up goodies, including a revised suspension, exhaust system, and an engine with pistons sourced from performance tuner Cosworth, the COBB Tuning Focus has us absolutely salivating for a high-performance Focus. Coolest feature: That engine makes a whole lot more than the stock Focus’ 160 horsepower.Making it to production? Not likely, but Ford will be bringing its go-fast Focus ST to the market shortly.Making it to production? Although it isn’t, we bet the grass planter wouldn’t fly in any state but California anyway.Turbo2 Imagine taking the ultra-punchy turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine from the Mazdaspeed3 and dropping it into the significantly smaller Mazda2. Well, with the Turbo2, Mazda did just that. With 260 horsepower going to the front wheels, it somehow reminds of us the muscle car era when companies would lodge their biggest engines into their smallest cars to gain an advantage. Coolest feature: It weighs 600 pounds less than a MazdaSpeed3 with the same engine.Making it to production? We wish.Camry Daytona 500 Pace Car Mentioning special NASCAR edition cars like the Plymouth Superbird, Buick Grand National, and Dale Earnhardt edition Chevrolet Monte Carlo, we’re pretty sure a special edition NASCAR Toyota Camry for the Daytona 500 was likely the next thing on your mind. Based on the redesigned 2012 Toyota Camry SE, the Daytona 500 pace car seen here packs the same 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine available in cars on the showroom floor. Where it differs is the 19-inch BBS wheels, the upgraded brakes, lowered Tein suspension, and, of course, a racing roll cage. Coolest feature: Having to unlatch off four-point racing harnesses instead of traditional seat belt buckle to get out.Making it to production? A special edition for the Daytona 500 may come out, but most of the parts won’t make it onto a production car, if any.Making it to production? No way, dude.Making it to production? Yeah, 25 years ago. If that’s too old for you, Subaru will soon sell you a BRZ instead.
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