Show Your Stuff

a way into the sema show

Larry Jewett - October 18, 2012 10:00 AM


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It’s hard to believe it is that time of year already.

It seems like it gets quicker every year, kind of like Christmas, which is now less than three months away. In many ways, the annual SEMA show is like Christmas, in the commercial sense of the holiday. We look forward to what we might be eventually getting for our cars and this is the place where the ideas start.

While it is a known fact that not just anyone can waltz into the Las Vegas Convention Center and start looking around, it seems that there are more opportunities for people who aren’t “professionally associated” with the automotive side of the business to get past the security guards.

One of those ways is by having your car on display and we have seen a growing number of contests and exhibitors seeking quality rides for their booths in order to get noticed. Logistically, there are more cars that come from the West Coast, but even now, some companies are picking up the tab to get high quality cars on the showroom floor.

Last year, Andy Bolig and I watched as car after car was taken from the haulers parked in what would become a test track and pushed to the showroom floor. Some, amazingly, even drove to the doors. They may have enjoyed most of the ride inside a trailer, but they were totally functional. It then became a matter of getting all of the fluid out to be on the floor itself.

SEMA has been about the cars as much as the parts for most of us. There are ample display areas that are outside the halls and the smart locals know they can see these without having to worry about credentials. You will find a lot of interesting rides out there that have no direct connection with an exhibitor inside as well as cars that exhibitors bring along to direct attention inside. You wanna see more? C’mon inside and see what we have.

Of course, not everyone can have a car in their booth, but those who can do and they do it well. The manufacturers, like Ford and GM in the Central Hall and Chrysler in Mopar Alley and the South Hall, utilize a good bit of real estate to get their displays built. They usually have a combination of their own products complemented by private owners with their builds. It’s a nice mix that touches on all of the enthusiasts.

Saying your car was displayed at SEMA is a true validation at auction time. It adds a little more to the perceived value and, despite the sheer number of cars displayed at the show over the years, can make it quite desirable.

For some, the SEMA display is just the opening act to the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational, which has provided some additional great cars to the displays in the recent past and can be expected to do that again in the future.

For the car owner who gets selected to have a car on display, the experience is priceless. You may want to stay close to wipe off the fingerprints from unconcerned spectators. You’ll want to be there to detail it every chance you get. It’s also a common practice to be hovering nearby to answer questions or dispute the know-it-all who finds fault with your car.

SEMA is a good example of the favorable collision of two worlds – people and cars and the good that can come from the intersection. We’ll be off checking out all the beautiful rides, getting project ideas and more and, at the end of it all, wonder where the time has gone.

Christmas, after all, is just around the corner and the automotive wish list is now a little longer.