SEMA auto news

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Official: Ford cranks up '32 Ford body production

01/15/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, SEMA, Time Warp, Coupes, Ford

1932 Ford Five-Window Coupe body

If you're going to build your own hot rod, you'll want to start with a '32 Ford 5-Window Coupe. Favored by American servicemen returning from World War II, the '32 Ford remains the very icon of the hot rod to this day. The trouble is there were only so many of them made in the first place, and finding one today can be a challenge. That's where reproduction models come in.

The aftermarket is replete with companies that will sell you a fiberglass body in the form of a '32 Ford coupe, but quality can be hit or miss. So to help meet demand among hot rod builders and enthusiasts, Ford has teamed up with United Pacific Industries to offer officially licensed body shells.

Announced at the SEMA show in November, the '32 Ford 5-Window Coupe body is made from stamped steel according to original specifications from original machinery where possible or reproduced machinery built to the same original specifications where necessary. The bodies are ready to accept vintage powertrains or crate motors from the Ford Racing catalog, and join the 9,000 other parts offered in the Ford Component Sales catalog - including similar reproduction bodies available for the 1965-70 Mustang and 1940 Ford Coupe. From there, the proverbial sky's the limit.

Continue reading Ford cranks up '32 Ford body production

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Quick Spin: Chevy Camaros fitted with factory Performance Parts

11/23/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, SEMA, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Chevrolet, Quick Spin, Racing

Chevy Camaro SS

Chevy Camaro Performance PartsThe SEMA Show in Las Vegas is almost universally more show than go. The monster performance cars and unholy super-modified rides that line the show halls are undoubtedly impressive, but we journalists rarely have the chance to do much more than look at them while we're in town. So, it was a real breath of fresh air to hang out with Chevy at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and drive a set of Camaros that had been freshly shod with go-fast bits from the company's newly refreshed performance parts catalog.

The Bowtie brand is redoubling its efforts to offer racing-inspired and "track-hardened" componentry for the Gen 5 Camaro. And while this isn't a space in the aftermarket that is devoid of third-party entries, Chevy's sales pitch is a strong one: its parts do not void the manufacturer's warranty and they're designed and engineered by the same teams that design and engineer the cars themselves.

As you might expect, the performance parts in question are drawn in large measure from two of Camaro's turnkey variants, the 1LE and the mighty ZL1. Perhaps most compelling of the whole group is the 1LE Track Pack ($1,500) that includes larger front and rear stabilizer bars, retuned front struts and monotube rear shocks that transform the handling of the pony car. The package works with the stock chassis control and antilock braking software, and can be fitted to both V6 and V8 models. The ZL1 offers up a huge number of its parts to the catalog, including front and rear brake kits ($4,150/$2,500 front/rear for a V8 car, $7,200 for all four wheels for the V6), a short-throw shifter kit and a fuel pump ($350 and $420, respectively).

I drove a selection of V6 and V8 Camaros at the infield track of the speedway with some cone challenge sections, and also got my feet wet at the nearby drag strip, with a couple of drag-prepped, six-speed manual Camaro SS'.

Driving Notes

  • The Camaro that I was most taken with on the road course in Las Vegas, and the one that I hopped back into for extra lapping, was actually a 2013 Camaro V6. The Silver pony car (inset) had been fitted with the SS brake package, 1LE suspension package, strut tower brace and the performance exhaust.
  • The 1LE suspension components give the Camaro remarkably more lateral stiffness while running through a short section of slalom cones that Chevy had set up. I drove a standard '13 V6 immediately before the 1LE-prepped car, and the transformation was pretty incredible. The car was absolutely flat through rapid changes of direction, making far better use of the available grip, as well. Chevy engineers pointed out that they had left the same wheel/tire package on both the modified and unmodified car, to better show off how transformational the underpinnings could be.
  • There's no question that the more powerful SS cars were faster around the tight track, but I actually enjoyed flinging the newly stiff V6 more. With the 1LE's suspension, the lighter nose of the V6 Camaro was thrown in pretty dramatic relief. The car felt faster on turn-in and seemed to take a set and move forward more quickly, too.
  • Both the stock and modified V6 cars I drove were equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. The infield was tight enough that a manual car could lap it quickly in second gear, but the autobox wanted to shift up too soon in a few spots. The manual-mode shifting is kind of slow to react, too. This isn't a racing transmission, to be sure, but it was mildly disappointing on the track, nevertheless.
  • The SS braking kit proved to offer a clear advantage over the stock set of stoppers. The initial bite from the brake pedal was firmer, and I was able to stop quite a bit farther back in the emergency stopping box that had been laid out on the course. That said, the heavier V8 Camaros equipped with the 14.6-inch rotors and 6-piston calipers from the front brakes of the ZL1 were decidedly quicker at retarding speed.
  • As I mentioned, there were two drag-prepped SS cars with which we could take quarter-mile runs (above); not quite up to the level of the COPO Camaros, but in that same spirit. The big modification here included a complete ZL1 rear axle system: 9.9-inch ring gear, heavy-duty limited slip differential in a cast iron housing, and a beefed up driveshaft and half-shafts. The engineers on hand were all pretty cocky that this rear end was all but unbreakable, which was good to hear as this was my first time drag racing.
  • Now, most guys who drag race their Camaros opt for automatic transmissions for more perfect launches and upshifts, but Chevy had built our two cars with the newly available short-throw six-speed. I actually found the manual trans to be pretty easy to use, though I know I shifted up a hair too late, twice, on my second run.
  • The Camaros at the strip also came correct with the LS3 heads and LS7 camshaft package that adds around 40 horsepower to the SS V8. Between the added weight of the HD rear axle system and the excitement of the competitive environment, it's hard to say that the extra grunt was obvious. I'm sure back-to-back runs in modified and unmodified cars would have eventually told the tale, both by the seat of my pants and on the clock. In any case, there was more than enough power to launch incredibly hard and throw me back in my seat with great force.
  • How'd I do? Well, I ran like the rookie that I was. I recorded a 13.826-second time at 105.86 miles per hour my first time out. That's clearly not indicative of the true performance potential of the vehicle; a few of the guys that followed me were just a fraction over 13 seconds, and everyone seemed sure that ranges in the 12s were totally doable.
  • In all it was an enlightening day of track-oriented fun, and one that foretold a lot of great Camaro customization to come in the future. There's just not much to dislike about making a fast car faster.
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SEMA: Ford picks Fiesta ST, Transit Connect as this year's SEMA darlings

02/03/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, SEMA, Minivans/MPVs, Sports/GTs, Wagons/Estates, Marketing/Advertising, Commercial Trucks, Hatchbacks, Ford

SEMA is more than nine months away, but the reveille bugle for the show has just sounded with Ford's call to aftermarket companies for its project-vehicle program. The 2014 Ford Fiesta ST and 2014 Transit Connect van and wagon are the cars The Blue Oval wants to feature, but applicants can submit project vehicles for any product except the GT500, the Raptor, or anything from Lincoln.

Submissions must be completed in two parts, the first being an email to Ford with an overview of the project, like vehicle theme, promotional plan and location display. The second part must be mailed in on company letterhead and gets down to the nuts and bolts of the vision and the provision of company bona fides. The complete proposal is due on March 1, winners will be notified by May 1. Click the link below to get all the details, and for show attendees, get ready to see some funky Fiestas and wild shaggin' wagons in Las Vegas come November.

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Video: Ken Block won't let a little in-cabin fire slow him down

11/09/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, SEMA, Sports/GTs, Safety, Videos, Hatchbacks, Ford, Racing

Say you're driving along, minding your own business and smoke starts rising from the hood of your car - you're going to pull over, right? Well if you are the master of Gymkhana, Ken Block, it's never that simple.

The drift-happy racer was competing at a Global RallyCross event at SEMA when things got a little hazy in the cockpit of the heavily modified Ford Fiesta rally car. Block was in the lead, and as one might do when leading a race, he ignored the smoke billowing from beneath the shifter. Three laps into the race, and the smoke persisted, but hey there was driving to be done! Finally, flames erupted, but Block was still not phased. This from the Hoonigan YouTube page:

"After qualifying first, winning each of his heats and leading the first 5 laps at Global Rally Cross SEMA, Ken Block was forced to DNF due to a FIRE in his cockpit. But before retiring Block drove the piss out of his Ford Fiesta HFHV despite the smoke, and flames. Why you ask... Cause, like any good Hoonigan, dude AIN'T CARE!!!"

Our takeaway from this mishap is that Block remains unsettlingly cool, and only after stuff starts melting and falling over does it appear that Block becomes alarmed at all. They say racers need ice water pumping through their veins, but that doesn't make you fireproof, so we're glad Block is alright. To see all the vehicular carnage, check out the video below.

Continue reading Ken Block won't let a little in-cabin fire slow him down

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Report: Gran Turismo Awards crowns Best of Show from SEMA, will include in game

11/06/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: SEMA, Volkswagen, Design/Style

Part of the blinged-out pomp and circumstance that surrounds SEMA is the presentation of the Gran Turismo Awards, which recognizes best car design and innovations in six categories, as well as an overall Best in Show. This year's winner was David Eckert and his 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 40, which also won the award for Best Hot Rod.

Other winners included the Toyota DragQuoia for Best Truck/SUV, the 2013 Ford Mustang RTR for Best Domestic Car, the Scion Evasive FR-S for Best Asian Import and the 500-horsepower VWVortex Super Beetle won for best European Import.

But it was the Mach 40 that apparently captured the interest of judges, which included Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi. David Eckert's team created a clever combination of Mustang Mach 1 styling and massive power, using the powertrain from the Ford GT. That means this 'Stang was fitted with a mid-mounted supercharged 5.4-liter V8, producing 600 to 850 horsepower, modulated using an "adjustable horsepower dial." Interestingly, the custom project rides on a C6 Corvette suspension.

The notoriety of the Mach 40 will last well after this year's show, as the car is being included in the Gran Turismo franchise, and will be seen by the millions that play the popular driving simulator. You may never get to drive the Mach 40, but now you may know what driving this car feels like in virtual reality, which for the David Eckert's team, must feel pretty darn cool.

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Report: Gran Turismo Awards crowns Best of Show from SEMA to include in game

11/06/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: SEMA, Volkswagen, Design/Style

Part of the blinged-out pomp and circumstance that surrounds SEMA is the presentation of the Gran Turismo Awards, which recognizes best car design and innovations in six categories, as well as an overall Best in Show. This year's winner was David Eckert and his 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 40, which also won the award for Best Hot Rod.

Other winners included the Toyota DragQuoia for Best Truck/SUV, the 2013 Ford Mustang RTR for Best Domestic Car, the Scion Evasive FR-S for Best Asian Import and the 500-horsepower VWVortex Super Beetle won for best European Import.

But it was the Mach 40 that apparently captured the interest of judges, which included Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi. David Eckert's team created a clever combination of Mustang Mach 1 styling and massive power, using the powertrain from the Ford GT. That means this 'Stang was fitted with a mid-mounted supercharged 5.4-liter V8, producing 600 to 850 horsepower, modulated using an "adjustable horsepower dial." Interestingly, the custom project rides on a C6 Corvette suspension.

The notoriety of the Mach 40 will last well after this year's show, as the car is being included in the Gran Turismo franchise, and will be seen by the millions that play the popular driving simulator. You may never get to drive the Mach 40, but now you may know what driving this car feels like in virtual reality, which for the David Eckert's team, must feel pretty darn cool.

Read more..

Video: Global RallyCross comes to Vegas with SEMA [UPDATE]

11/03/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, SEMA, Videos, Racing

Tanner Foust Global RallyCross Las Vegas

Global RallyCross is an interesting motorsport. Beginning in 2010 at the X Games, the series races on short tracks made partly of asphalt and partly of dirt, along with a signature variation called the Joker Lap, in which drivers are required to take an alternate, slightly longer route that generally incorporates a 70-foot gap jump.

The final event for the 2012 season took place just across the street from the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, and those of us covering the event for Autoblog scored a birds-eye view of the track from our hotel rooms. Fortunately for those who weren't able to attend, X Games decided to upload the entire final to YouTube.

For those keeping track, Tanner Foust took the victory, clinching the Global RallyCross Championship for the second year in a row. The race had to be restarted after Ken Block's car started billowing ominous-looking black smoke from underhood.

If you're interested, GoPro stitched together a brief video reel of highlights, along with some skate footage from an empty pool, from driver Bucky Lasek. Both videos are available for your viewing pleasure down below.

UPDATE: We've also added a video from Driving Sports showing RallyCross action in slow motion.

Continue reading Global RallyCross comes to Vegas with SEMA [UPDATE]

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SEMA: Tekked-Out Prius, Rowdy Camry round out Toyota's SEMA offerings

11/02/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, SEMA, Toyota

From the same Dream Build Challenge that brought the DragQouia to the SEMA Show, NASCAR stars Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch also got involved with the competition hoping to win $50,000 for their respective charities. Instead of building trucks like their NHRA counterparts, Bowyer had a Prius built for the contest while Busch stuck with a car he's very familiar with, the Camry.

Bowyer's Tekked-Out Prius is probably about as cool-looking as a Prius can get with its lowered stance, custom body kit, side cameras replacing the door mirrors and black-and-blue paint job matching the car's techie persona. Inside is where most of the mods took place with a totally redone interior including new fabrics throughout (including leather and Alcantara) and plenty of cabin tech such as the 17-inch touchscreen computer built into the passenger side of the instrument panel. Bowyer's charity of choice is the Emporia Community Foundation which goes to benefit Bowyer's hometown of Emporia, Kansas.

Named after Busch's apparent alter-ego (Rowdy Burns from Days of Thunder), the Rowdy Camry shows how mean a midsize Toyota can look with styling upgrades like a wide body kit, rear diffuser with integrated exhaust outlets and a ram air hood. The blacked-out Camry also has a lowered suspension and rides on staggered-width 18-inch wheels, and it was was built for the Kurt Busch Foundation. Scroll down for more information about both of these cars.

Continue reading Tekked-Out Prius, Rowdy Camry round out Toyota's SEMA offerings

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SEMA: Pure Vision Design imagines what could have been with Martini Racing 1966 Ford Mustang T-5R [w/video]

11/02/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, SEMA, Time Warp, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Videos, Ford, Special/Limited Editions, Design/Style, Racing

Imagine, for a moment, this scene taking place way back in the 1960s:

"Ford has so much success with the Shelby racing program in the US, they had the new Indy motor that they wanted to get more development out of, they wanted to promote the Mustang more in Europe, and Martini Racing was just coming about. So the idea behind the car is that Ford contacted Martini and asked if they would do some testing on the Indy engine if they gave them some performance parts from Shelby."

It didn't actually happen, but it's a unique bit of historical coulda-woulda-shoulda-been described to us by Peter Harksell of Pure Vision Design. Its Martini Racing livery is enough for us to make us take notice, but the real story is the Indy Car engine underhood. It's an original Ford Indy engine from the 1960s, originally displacing 251 cubic inches and revving to a stratospheric 9,000 rpm.

The mill was rebuilt with the street in mind, now fuel-injected and measuring 300 cubic inches, and it boasts a wide and flat torque curve with over 300 pound-feet available from 3,000 to 7,000 rpm, maxing at 362 pound-feet. Horsepower comes to 426 at 6,900 rpm.

Just as importantly, the Mustang T-5R is built to handle with a modern suspension system from Detroit Speed & Engineering. Kept to just 2,300 pounds all in, this 'Stang is bound to be a serious performer. Check it out in our complete gallery above and read more about the car and its build process on Pure Vision Design's official website. Finally, be sure to watch the set of videos below.

Continue reading Pure Vision Design imagines what could have been with Martini Racing 1966 Ford Mustang T-5R [w/video]

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SEMA: Pics Aplenty: Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ show up en masse at SEMA

11/02/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, SEMA, Scion, Subaru

Scion FR-S Show Cars at SEMA

Scion made a huge investment in the 2012 SEMA show, and its spanking new FR-S coupe, by putting hundreds of cars in the hands of tuners. The result on the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center is unmissable, as just about everywhere we turn we find another FR-S peeking out at us.

We tried to capture a large quantity of the coupes we saw on display, to represent just how thick on the ground they actually are. In the attached gallery you'll find a healthy percentage of the alleged 150-plus cars that made it to SEMA this year. You'll also find a smattering of Subaru BRZ models, too. Fair is fair.

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