If he had a dream car, championship freestyle skier Simon Dumont would make sure there was an espresso machine inside. He’d also make sure certain details — such as his rooftop ski rack — were more suited to his 5-foot-6 stature.
Luckily for him, this is the 2013 SEMA Show, where all car dreams can come true.
Dumont and a handful of other elite athletes had their auto wishes granted this year through a partnership with Toyota that paired the athletes, their sponsors and the car maker’s customization abilities to create a fleet only imagined in drivers’ most vivid dreams.
Dumont’s customized 4Runner was on display in the Toyota exhibit, in all its glory, complete with his requested espresso machine, a swinging propane grill, iPad and iPhone control capabilities and a hydraulic-controlled ski rack that extends out and down for those with certain height challenges.
“Being a little bit shorter, you always go up to ski rack and your stuff gets dirty. It’s nice that it comes down to me,” Dumont said.
Dumont explained he was going for a “Mad Max meets James Bond feel” and that the design process only took two meetings with the Toyota people to make his dreams a reality.
“To have a brainchild and see it in front of you is amazing,” Dumont said.
That’s what SEMA is — a place where all car fantasies can come true.
The 2013 SEMA Show is open to the automotive industry only and runs through Friday. It’s part of Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, and attracts about 130,000 people to Las Vegas who come to see more than 2,500 exhibitors.
“It really just shows the creativity we have with our brand and it really is a great way to leverage our partnerships we have with Team Toyota athletes and their corporate partners,” said Mike Kroll, Toyota’s manager of product communications.
Elsewhere, Las Vegas-based Drake Automotive Group was moving to a ’60s groove in its exhibit, which featured a 1964 white Mustang as the centerpiece. Employees wore ’60s-style costumes including brightly colored bell bottoms and silk button down shirts, all while talking about their latest customization products for Mustangs and Broncos.
Drake features product lines for 1965-1973 Mustangs, 1966-1977 Broncos, the Fox Body Mustang, and late-model Mustangs, Camaros and Challengers.
“The show’s been busy. A lot of people like the costumes and have been coming by to say hi,” said account manager Elliot Milmeister.
The account staff was busy showing off the company’s new products, including a six-gauge dash bezel that allows five-gauge Mustang models to go up to six gauges.
SEMA was full of new products, many of which were featured in the show’s new product showcase, where more than 2,000 new items went live for the week. That number is a feat that association vice president of communications and events, Peter MacGillivray, said shows confidence in the industry.
As far as what’s trending in the industry, MacGillivray seemed to see a contradiction.
“Automobiles are getting more technical than ever. They are rolling computers,” he said. “Technology’s playing an increasing role, but I see kind of a backlash to that.”
For example, new parts for classic cars, such as those Mustang and Bronco parts, littered the exhibit floor. In one category called rat rods, many features are as low-tech as they get: Think Mason jars for taillights.
Even so, products that interface with technology are a big part of everyone’s business plan, MacGillivray said.
Think about Toyota’s dream car concepts. Others in the display included a Rav4 with a shiatsu massage seat and in-car blender to make smoothies on the go for triathletes who need to fuel up between races. Its Corolla was transformed into a giant playground for BMX riders, with a grind rail on the front bumper and front seat headrests that are Skullcandy headphones enlarged to three times their normal size.
The car also has removable outside speakers that mount on top rails that double as carriers for two BMX bikes.
“Getting bass outside the vehicle is very, very tough, because bass is basically moving air. When you’re out in an open environment it’s hard to move that much air without massive speakers that takes massive power. We’ve got some really large bass subwoofers inside the vehicle and with the windows down on one side you can get good bass outside,” said Chuck Wade, director of Toyota’s Motorsports Technical Center.
At PPG’s circus-themed booth, an ode to color was in effect, with artist signings drawing never-ending lines of attendees.
“Paint is not just about seeing color, it’s about seeing and feeling and evoking a memory you might have,” said spokeswoman Cristina Fronzaglia.
The company recently launched its Crystallance colors, which were featured among the carnival-themed booth.
“For PPG Automotive Refinish this is probably the largest show we will attend throughout the year. This is the capstone to our year, so SEMA really encapsulates what we’re trying to do, not only with the custom market but with the refinish aftermarket,” Fronzaglia said.
At the show PPG was reaching out to body shops, custom artists and paint technicians in attendance.
“We can all show paint colors but at the end of the day it’s about showing what the artists do and it makes people believe they can do it as well,” Fronzaglia said.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.