'Click' on the photo thumbnail to see the picture in its full size and to read its complete caption. Enjoy!
OK, this is what you've been waiting for --- So here it is! My editor at POPULAR MECHANICS magazine once told me, "There are two things which sell magazines --- Pussy and hamburger. Put either, or both, on a magazine cover and that sucker WALKS off the newsstand!" The "pussy" part is obvious, but the "hamburger"? That translates into Porsche, Mustang or Corvette. Put ANY of those three on a magazine cover (and maybe Ferrari, depending on the mag) and sales go up 10%, automatically. These woman posed for photogs, than sat down to autograph posters of themselves ... and charged $5 a pop for their signatures, when they were already being paid to be at the show! Seemed ridiculous to me, but we bought a poster, anyway (for Carey's dad, an old-school drag racer --- right). Funny, but while they were signing and the people in line were whining about the charge, the rest of the display was empty --- NO execs from the company there at all! Now THERE'S an outfit to NOT do business with! And, honestly, I have NO IDEA what the name of the company is!
There's fun and impressive stuff to see at every corner of the SEMA SHOW. Here, for example, a company selling intercoolers displays their product mounted on a DOHC four-cylinder engine. Walk too quickly or blink your eyes, and you missed it ... But take the time to try and appreciate all the show has to offer, and you almost forget about how much your feet hurt! Almost ...
A Toyota-sponsored 'media reception' was held the second night of the SEMA SHOW in a large Las Vegas Hilton ballroom. We had left Los Angeles before our invitation from Toyota got to us in the mail (yeah, sure, Parker...) and we were in the process of being thrown-out of the doorway when one of the top Lexus PR folks showed-up to save our hungry butts. It was a great event, allowing Carey and I to see many good old friends and make a few new ones, too! Food and drink rating: Three out of five stars. Why just 'average'? The Toyota people had a few cars on display in the ball room (including the impressive new LS460L, which Carey immediately said she wanted) , and had a transporter just outside the hotel waiting to move the cars to another location --- The invite said the event was from 5 to 7pm, and at 7 SHARP, our hosts started flashing the ball room ights to let us know it was time to get our butts out of their party! It was all ok, though, and thanks again to the Toyota/Lexus people for staging one of their usual low-key, but successful events. The sushi was good, too. One more thing: The photo shown is of an ice sculpture of the 1957 Toyopet, the first vehicle sold by Toyota in the USA at what is now North Hollywood Toyota (a Land Cruiser was a buyer's other choice). The sculpture was one of the highlights of the SEMA SHOW (he said, tongue in cheek...). By the way, they also had a real live version of the Toyopet there, from the Toyota Museum (yes, Toyota indeed has a museum in Torrance, CA, near their national HQ.
The much-heralded Las Vegas Monorail is a bit of a bust, especially if you want to use it to go ANYWHERE immediately outside the few famous blocks of Las Vegas Boulevard known as "The Strip". The smooth, fast, driver-less trains (which have a large amount of security TV cameras not only in the stations, but more than one in every car ... and we saw a cop or two at each station!) seem relatively safe and efficient. But rides are expensive. A one-day pass is $15 ... Or it's $5 every time you get on the train which rides on a single track using rubber wheels. Las Vegas officials must have taken their cues in planning from the folks who planned the Green Line train route in Los Angeles. That train is a wonderful piece of technology which goes from downtown Los Angeles all the way to Los Angeles Airport (LAX). Just one problem: It drops passengers (and their bags) a mile from LAX! Surprise! Likewise, the Vegas Monorail does not go anywhere near McCarran Airport (keeping cab drivers busy and happy) nor the fun downtown area, where the food is good and inexpensive and the gambling definitely has better odds (you can look it up, as they say). A fellow who works for the Monorail told us that 'eventually' it will go to the Airport (in fact they're supposedly planning that section right now) and possibly to downtown, too. Driving (or being driven) under the clean and unobtrusive single monrail track which runs along some of the main roads and in-and-out of parking lots of the big hotels, it's obvious what a great mode of transport monorails could be. If only we all had listened to none other than Walt Disney, who offered in the 1950s to build a monorail line throughout the City of Los Angeles for FREE. But it's a typical piece of American puffery you'd expect to find in Las Vegas --- A real train to nowhere!
Got your credit card handy? Well, pull it out and stick it into the 'iPOD Zoom Shop', in a hallway just off the lobby of the aging Las Vegas Hilton (just what is it with that 'Star Trek' ride which no one ever seems to be using?). You can buy iPODs and all the relevant factory accessories right from the machine, dispensed like a bag of potato chips or Famous Amos cookies from one of those snack machines. These machines can also be found in NYC and Japan. We ran into the guy who stocks the wondrous little robotic, and he said this specific machine in Las Vegas is one of the most popular and valuable of all those in the world. People tend to spend a LOT of money in Las Vegas, buying the same things which are priced much lower at 'home' ... And we're ALL very impulsive when it comes to the whole 'Vegas, baby!' spirit and trying to live up to that somehow (and maybe impress someone) --- So what's a $349 credit charge from Las Vegas for an iPOD on next month's statement? At least you know what the charge was for!
The immense show (one hall, at least) spreads out before you ... So dive right in! Most of the displays, while not as large as those at auto shows, do have two or three levels, some even with kitchens and wet bars --- All the companies on display are here to SELL and the folks walking the floor are there to BUY!
It's impossible to explain how large the SMEA SHOW actually is --- It fills three huge buildings, over 1 million square feet, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and another 1/2 million at the Sands Convention Center. Here's a typical, low-key floor display ...
Frantz R. Cayo, Director of Motor Sports Programming for ESPN, made his way from Bristol, CT to Las Vegas to announce a new slew of motorsports shows for ESPN to complement their NASCAR coverage, which begins in 2007. Some of them sounded pretty good -- And I might be on one or more of them, so keep your fingers crossed for THE CAR NUT! The relationship between NASCAR and ESPN is a bit 'checkered' ... NASCAR was one of the network's staples when ESPN first went on-the-air, along with 'sports' like log-rolling. Many people in the industry make the case that without ESPN, NASCAR would never have grown to today's heights. However, when ESPN lost the NASCAR contract, which had gotten too expensive for ESPN and owner ABC at that time, ESPN was not even allowed to use NASCAR footage on their network without paying for it! ESPN crews were also barred from NASCAR races. We'll be watching their relationship closely; media professionals know these kind of things happen and both sides will overcome any hard feelings. Or at least they should. It's ALL about the green, baby!
What a magnificent exhibition of sheer thumping power! The other three "Legendary GM Engines" on display at SEMA were the 1965 Chevrolet 327 L84 Small Block with 375 horsepower and 352 ft. lbs. of torque, and 1969's Chevrolet 427 ZL1 All-Aluminum Mark IV Big Block producing (the public was told through advertising of the time) 430 horses, but Chevy says it really made 560 horsepower and 450 ft. lbs. of torque. Last but absolutely not least, GM exhibited their 1970 Chevy 454 LS6 Big Block Mark IV making an even 450 horses and 500 ft. lbs.
Remember when they wrote songs about cars and even engines?). A GM display in a hallway (the SEMA SHOW is so big they have cars, trucks, and all their bits and pieces shoved anywhere they can find room in the Las Vegas and Sands Convention Centers) featured "Five Legendary GM Engines" on diudsplay, "under glass", if you will. Seemed a lot of the younger convention-goers didn't recognize the engines for what they were, because none of them had any smog equipment --- They could actually see the engines! Two of the five were: 1964 Pontiac GTO 389 with 348 horsepower (as the song said, "Three deuces and a four speed and a 389), the 1964 Chevrolet Big Block 409 L80 with 425 horses (as the song said, "Giddy yap, giddy yap, giddy yap 409!"
This heavily-modified Volvo C30 from IPD in Portland, OR, features unique gull wing doors and a wheel-brake combination from one of the larger, heavier Volvo models. Puffing-out the fenders allowed for plus-sized wheels and tires. Next year's AWD model will be able to take better advantage of all that horsepower.
The gullwing doors are in full view in this front-end shot. Note all the proper pieces on the front, including air dam, dual fog lamps, halogen headlamps, etc.
The Volvo folks told us they get about 380 horsepower out of the heavily-modified Volvo 5-cylinder engine with intercooled turbocharger. It's a front-wheel drive car; Next year, the IPD people (they're the olest Volvo tuning shop in the world) tell us they may do the same thing to the new all-wheel drive C30 model.
All the traditional Volvo built-in safety, plus 'soft' bits and pieces throughout. Note the aluminum racing pedals. Ipod sound system (color-coordinated, natch) make things fun for the passenger, too.
A company called IPD in Pportland, OR, did the $80,000 (estimated) work on this Volvo C30 --- Don't expect to see gull wing doors on any Volvo anytime soon, but with the company a division of FoMoCo, 'never say never' about anything!
Here's a profile of that wild Volvo hot rod which that division of Ford showed at SEMA.
We ain't kiddin'! There's a V8 Volvo engine in there somewhere ... A Volvo official told us, "They man who designed this, they call him the 'Boyd Coddington of Sweden'". Well, we can all see why. Can someone say, "Rip off"? Let's not go too hard on him though; it's only the second time in history VOLVO has been represented at the SEMA SHOW! At least they are trying to shed their dull, staid, 'all-safety-all-the-time-and-nothing-else' image. Hope things do go well with this show car ... Which will probably happen right up to the moment Tom Gale, Carroll Shelby, Bob Lutz and Francois Castaign, principals in the development of the PLYMOUTH PROWLER, get a load of this one!
You all kow the classic song of the same title, 'Hot Rod Lincoln'. Well, here's the real thing: An all-steel Ford body filled to the brim with a Lincoln V12!
FoMoCo and their various friends and suppliers had no less than 5 or so original, never-seen-before rods at the show, all to celebrate the Ford V8's 75th anniversary.
Rear 3/4 shot of the Shelby Roadster shown at the SEMA SHOW. Noe the line of people at the front of the car. A Ford offcial told us that Carroll Shelby was paid $10,000 per day by Ford to sign his name for an hour or so each day of the SEMA SHOW. No other 'celebrity' got anywhere near the attention Shelby received from people who really appreciated his work over the years.
Look VERY closely and you can make out (in blue against the silver) Carroll's signature. The car is slated for sale at the Barret-Jackson Auction in January, 2007, just outside Scottsdale, AZ (at a place called 'Westworld"), to raise funds for the Shelby Heart Transplant Fund for Children. Way to go, Shel!
Note the non-standard-for-the-times radio on the bottom of the center console. Otherwise a beautiful and faithful re-creation of the dreams of those old days.
Shelby had one of the supercharged engines from the new Shelby Cobra popped into this hot rod frame and body and voila! Ol' Carroll's autograph is even on the dashboard ... About the autographs, Shelby usually says, "That's the most valuable thing on the car" ...
Gorgeous example, celebrating the 75th birthday of the Ford V8!