Covering nearly 5 million square feet of floor space between the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo Convention Center, last week's Specialty Equipment Market Association Show and Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo featured an astonishing 2,000-plus exhibitors and close to 150,000 attendees. Keep in mind, this event is closed to the general public, but there were plenty of outdoor displays and activities open to Las Vegas automotive enthusiasts.
Inside, however, was another story with rows and rows of restyling accessories, automotive organizers, engine parts, restoration supplies, street-rod components and safety enhancements.
For SEMA members, who include mainly manufacturers, distributors, retailers, publishing companies, auto restorers, street-rod builders, restylers, car clubs and race teams, it's obvious the love for cars, trucks and SUVs is the motivating force behind this 46-year-old tradition. Here, it's shared automotive knowledge, experience and innovation that drives SEMA members to buy, sell and use all kinds of specialty parts and accessories to make vehicles more attractive, unique, convenient, faster, safer, fun and even like-new again.
For our visit, we focused on a 35,000-square-foot area in one of SEMA's convention halls called "Ideas Alive: New Products Showcase." The task was to maneuver through the hundreds of displayed products to generate a "that's really clever" list. To make it even more interesting, we kept separate "his" and "her" favorites. It was a tough job and there were many ingenious products, but we managed to whittle it down to five each.
His Top 5
MasterShift Corvette Manual Transmission Paddle Shifter (www.mastershift .com): Converts your Corvette into a paddle-shifted or bump-shifted performance vehicle. To retain full driver control the clutch is still utilized. Paddles allow you to keep your hands on the wheel. The $5,950 retail-priced unit was co-invented with the Pratt & Miller race team (builders of the Pratt & Miller Corvette C6RS).
Mac's Custom Tie Downs Chassis Stabilizer (www.mactiedowns.com): Mac's Chassis Stabilizer keeps your vehicle from bouncing while in the trailer, which spares the suspension and other components from getting overworked in transit. Square or round shapes. This $299.95 product is proudly made in the USA from top-quality materials.
Procomp Electronics 289/302W Ford Downdraft Weber EFI Kit (www.procomp electronics.com): Based in Rialto, Calif., Procomp Electronics offers a direct replacement kit, like the original downdraft Weber, except this unit is electronically controlled. It comes fully assembled and is ready to be installed. Contact for pricing.
Race Ramps (www.raceramps.com): These lightweight trailer ramps include a flap cut-out that extends the angle of the trailer door/ramp for ease of loading low-profile vehicles. The cutout provides nesting space for as much as a 16-inch flap. Retail price is $383 for the pair.
DashCommand from Palmer Performance Engineering (www.palmerperformance.com): Tablet and smartphone application retails for $49.95. This app delivers virtual dashboards, fuel economy, horsepower, torque, trip computer, inclinometer, skidpad, data logging, trouble codes, clear check engine light and more.
Her Top 5
Pitstop Furniture from Intro-Tech Automotive Inc. (www.intro-techautomotive.com): Thinking about the holidays and that hard-to-buy-for person on your list, this chair is manufactured using the latest techniques and highest quality components. The chair, which retails for $599, features an embossed high-performance tire tread armrest that is height adjustable, aluminum shifter knob, coil-over spring suspension and a brake caliper.
Seat Ventilation and Comfort System from Seat Comfort Systems Inc. (www.seatcomfort .com): To warm your bum this winter, check out the Seat Ventilation and Heater System that comes with five heat settings and three fan speeds. The system installs quickly and is a high-demand product. Single units start at $69.90.
Custom Urn from Last Rides (www.last-rides.com): A little creepy, we know, but Last Rides offers one-of-a-kind replicas of your vehicle that may be used as a show piece or as a unique or customized cremation urn. Contact for pricing.
BreezeGuard Screen from MuttManagers LLC (www.muttmanagers .com): Keeping our pets safe and happy is a little easier with these steel mesh screens that are custom made to year, make, model and window of your vehicle. Single screen is $85 with a pair available for $160.
Cradle-iT Dash Mount from Bracketron Inc. (www.bracketron.com): The ideal dashboard mounting solution for your smartphone. The patented Cradle-iT features Temporbond, which is a breakthrough technology that allows you to mount it on any smooth or textured surface. Prices start at $29.95.