2019 SEMA Show: A Not So Triumphant Return to Las Vegas

It has been – literally – TEN years since RevdCars attended the SEMA show in Las Vegas. Granted, the automotive aftermarket has morphed and changed during that decade. In “our”world of sport compacts and import cars, companies have shuttered their doors; those car shows that thrilled and wow’d us have been in dramatic decline for some time; import drag racing is all but non-existent; and, unhappily, those “import models” who made our hearts skip a beat have moved on and, frankly, the new generation doesn’t hold a candle to their predecessors.

With all that being said, there was a certain sense of excitement and curiosity as the 2019 SEMA show quickly approached on the calendar. A last minute decision was made to attend. Honestly, we can’t say it turned out the way we had hoped / expected.

  • Supras were all over the place, but save for a few there was nothing bedazzling about any of them; it was primarily cosmetic with some suspension and wheels
  • Trucks were EVERYWHERE (is this where the industry is headed?) with huge, ridiculous lift kits and equally ridiculous wheels (“brodozers”) – not a fan
  • Would say about 1/2 of the wheel companies in South Hall were those of the Chinese variety; can’t speak to any of them as their brands were unknown and quality probably just as suspect
  • The only real Import “tuning” companies on hand were HKS and GReddy, with the latter making a comeback in the market as I heard from more than a few talking heads
  • The North Hall, which WAS typically filled to the walls with mobile audio companies, was barren; most of the floor space was taken up by hand tool companies as far as I saw; as mentioned above, OE audio is so good, there’s an ever decreasing need for aftermarket head units and speakers

Underwhelmed, we probably won’t go back to the SEMA show again. The car business is just not the same anymore. We will adjust. In the meantime, enjoy the gallery below. We stuck to shooting only those things and people of interest inside the exhibit halls.

Next: 2019 LA Auto Show coverage in a couple of weeks!

SEMA Las Vegas 2009: Part IV, The Take-Aways

With SEMA a few weeks behind us and plenty of time to digest the show, a few deep thoughts remain:

  • Where will the Japanese manufacturers be in 2010 in making a serious bid for enthusiasts’ dollars as aftermarket support in this segment wanes? Some of the biggest names in the marketplace was absent from the show, challenged by dwindling sales and the weakness of the US dollar.
  • Can domestic aftermarket manufacturers answer the call? From what we saw, the answer is yes. As mentioned in a previous editorial, the Chevy Camaro seems to have singlehandedly revived the aftermarket industry. Even names that have been traditionally aligned with sport compact performance making positive inroads into supporting the domestic car market, the future looks bright for those who have had the foresight.
  • Will hybrids and electric cars damage the aftermarket? From our perspective, yes for the time being. People who purchase cars in this segment aren’t looking for excitement. In many respects, we feel these buyers are completely abandoning the notion of any behind-the-wheel fun. Gas mileage is what they are after, not vehicle dynamics. Nor acceleration. Nor braking. Nor handling. But companies like Tesla are making inroads in offering a package that still keeps in mind that driving should be fun. We keep our fingers crossed.
  • Fractured aftermarket presence in local communities will present a challenge for those car owners who deem that “stock” just isn’t good enough. Even in the car mecca that is Southern California, many “speed shops” have closed their doors due to a declining demand for services. And forget parts sales. Anything that can be purchased in the brick-and-mortar world can be purchased online. Specialized niche services, an excellent reputation and competitive pricing are the bare minimum a retail operation must offers its customers just to survive.
  • OE makes stand to gain from this downturn in the economy by offering those services and parts that a customer just can’t acquire from their local shop. Although this advantage in scale can tilt things in the dealer’s favor, they will have to work hard to change the opinions of car owners who deem them as “stealerships.”

Let us hope that 2010 will be a turnaround year for the OE and automotive industry.

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SEMA Las Vegas 2009: Part III, The Rest of the Show

Aside from the almost ubiquitous presence of the Chevy Camaro and supporting aftermarket companies at SEMA, it was hard to pinpoint any particular trend or direction the aftermarket is taking. We did notice a dearth of aftermarket body kit companies (thank goodness), but this alone doesn’t say much about where the industry is nor where it is headed. We hold our breath, hoping for some innovation in 2010. With that being said, there still was plenty of cool cars to admire from afar. Here’s our best pic(k)s of SEMA 2009.

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SEMA Las Vegas 2009: Part II, The Year of the Camaro

The 2009 SEMA Show in Las Vegas was officially sponsored by Ford. In an ironic twist of fate, however, it was not a Ford vehicle that took center stage at the show. Rather, it was the new Chevy Camaro that took the show by storm. It was Camaro overload. There were Camaros everywhere. It didn’t matter to which company the booth belonged. There was a Camaro in it.


We won’t delve into every bow tie sports car that was at the show, but the one in BASF’s booth really caught our attention. Although it was a V6, this particular Camaro had some major surgery done under the hood. With a twin turbocharger set up – with really clean, purposeful plumbing – it was flawlessly executed, not to mention the BASF paint job that enveloped the car. 

Enough with the words. Here’s a short cross section of the Camaro phenomenon witnessed at SEMA.

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