Ford Motor Co. became the first automobile manufacturer to capture the SEMA Award for both hottest car and hottest truck Tuesday at the Specialty Equipment Market Association's industry trade show in Las Vegas.
The Ford Mustang was named Hottest Car and the Ford F-Series won Hottest Truck. The Scion FR-S took Hottest Sport Compact honors and the Jeep Wrangler received the Hottest 4x4 SUV award.
The SEMA Award recognizes vehicle models that specialty-equipment manufacturers believe are the best platforms for accessorization and that showcase the year's coolest products. It underscores the cooperative relationship between automakers and SEMA-member companies.
Ford also revealed the Mustang Cobra Jet with a 5.0-liter, twin-turbo engine. It comes with Ford Racing intake and exhaust cams, Boss 302 heads and forged steel crankshaft. With 9.5:1 compression ratio, 92.2-millimeter bore and 92.27-millimeter stroke, it's ready to deliver high-performance, drag-racing power, Ford executives said. The concept car has yet to go into production.
"Ford is very pleased to be here," Edsel Ford II said at the manufacturer's massive exhibit inside the Las Vegas Convention Center. "We've been here for years with a big presence. It's a great place to come and showcase our vehicles. What we do is allow our partners to showcase their products. We ask them to produce parts and we select them and use them."
SEMA features more than 2,200 exhibiting companies that manufacture thousands of automotive aftermarket products, some designed to improve performance, safety and convenience, others to enhance appearance and comfort.
The show, which runs through Friday, takes 2.5 million square feet at the convention center and is expected to draw 130,000 to 145,000 buyers and vendors from around the world.
SEMA is closed to the public, but hundreds of cars are displayed outside the convention center, and racing demonstrations are conducted in the parking lots. The public is invited to the SEMA Cruise at 4 p.m. Friday to watch cars leave the show.
Vic Edelbrock, owner of Edelbrock Performance Parts, had a constant line of 20 people waiting to get his autograph on a poster commemorating the company's 75th anniversary.
"Fortunately, people like me and they like our product and I've been around a long time," the 76-year-old hot rodder said. "As long as you put a smile on somebody's face, that's what it's all about. It goes back to my father."
Vic Edelbrock Sr. introduced the slingshot manifold in 1938 and bought his first shop in Hollywood, Calif., in 1945. The company makes carburetors, cylinder heads, intake manifolds, superchargers and other high-performance parts.
Edelbrock, an original founder of SEMA, said he's amazed at how much the show has grown since its first year at Dodger Stadium in 1967.
"The size ... they've taken things and gone beyond," he said. "There's all kinds of stuff in here we never wanted in the first place. We wanted performance. The North Hall has everything over there, but that's all right."
Grant Products International showed the latest in racing-inspired steering wheels that are now air bag-compliant. They sell for $200 to $300, sales representative Neil Matranga said.
At Ventura, Calif.-based Automotive Racing Products, Sam Benson explained the nuts and bolts of his company's fastener products. He delved into "reciprocating force" from the weight of piston rods that tends to stretch rod bolts and studs.
"So you need a high-quality rod bolt when you run high-performance engines," he said.
A set of bolts for a small-block Chevrolet engine runs about $150.
Benson said he deals with many customers over the phone and by email, so it's important for him to attend SEMA and meet them in person and hear their questions and concerns. He's met customers from Africa, England and New Zealand at the show.
Joe Galindo, owner of Joe's Garage in Ramsey, Minn., said he's been coming to SEMA for four or five years and looks forward to making the annual trip to Las Vegas.
"I do restorations and just want to get up to speed on new stuff," he said. "I like the size of it and the variety of stuff here. Anything automotive, if you walk around, you'll find it. And it's good exercise."
Gary James of BMW of San Diego was enamored of the Hot Wheels display with two blue Camaros - one from 1969 and one from 2012 - coming down the orange track.
"It grabs a lot of people from that era and ties in back to little kids playing with cars and builds from there," he said. "It just reminds me of why we're in this business in the first place."
Contact reporter Hubble Smith at email@example.com or 702-383-0491.