We finally made it to Las Vegas for the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), and are our feet tired. Everything about this show is overwhelming, and although covering Toyota’s unveiling of six custom builds was priority number one, it was just a matter of time before we found ourselves wandering through the endless rows of kick-ass custom cars at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with SEMA, it’s worth noting that this is the largest aftermarket, tool-related, and service-focused automotive trade event in the nation, and being that this year marks its 50th anniversary, the turnout was astounding. Designed to be an event where “only qualified individuals employed within the automotive aftermarket industry are approved,” with over 2,400 exhibitors in attendance this year, SEMA is guaranteed to have something for everyone. Part product seminar, trade show, cruise-in, and hands-on experience, this aftermarket monster of a car convention is the final say in automotive over-excess.
Being that we love all things truck-related, and appreciate aftermarket modifications when done properly, it only seems appropriate that we put together a cheat sheet that focuses on a few of the most badass 4×4 and truck builds from SEMA 2016. While a lot of these vehicles will never see a spot of mud or ample time on the open road, the amount of time, money, and energy that went into making all of them is still impressive.
So take what you see today with a grain of salt, because while some may find a modified truck that never lives up to its full potential a travesty, these kinds of builds are a sub-genre that showcase what is possible more than anything else. Here are a few of the most memorable pickup trucks from SEMA this year, as well as a handful of extreme 4×4 machines that were impossible to ignore.
1. Super slammed F-750
Let’s kick things off in a large way, shall we? While some may not dig the look of a slammed truck of this caliber, we enjoy the way it sits and the way in which its Stormtrooper appearance makes the F-750 appear all the more imposing.
2. The FJ Company’s “Aspen” Land Cruiser build
Now for something small, simple, and totally tasteful: There’s so much about this FJ Land Cruiser that’s right on the money that it might be best to turn you over to our coverage on The FJ Company’s Aspen Build. Keep up the good work Joey and Cody, this is the kind of build we like to see!
3. The GMC golden rule
From off-road-ready to barely off the ground, this slammed GMC single cab is a prime example of what the right air setup from a top notch company like AccuAir Suspension can do for your ride. Another thing that grabbed our attention was this pickup’s pristine engine bay, which was hands down one of the cleanest at SEMA this year.
4. Off the grid high roller
Maxxis Tires had a really sweet booth this year, complete with wood chips, sod, and a Jeep that had been outfitted for one hell of a fun weekend in the Appalachians. Practical, powerful, and perfectly displayed, this was easily the most all-encompassing 4×4 build at SEMA, as it checked all of the “must have” camping boxes one might need.
5. Ford Super Duty Dually
Apparently Santa Claus decided to bring his other sleigh to SEMA this year, and are we glad he did. Since 2003, American Force Wheels has done an amazing job of making its presence known in the aftermarket community as the leader in forged off-road alloy engineering, making it the ultimate stocking stuffer for 4×4 fans and jolly old elves alike. Provided it’s an enormous stocking, of course.
6. The old school Bronco build
It may not be the most hardcore 4×4 listed, nor is it the flashiest, but dammit if the Tred Wear Bronco isn’t a fun flashback build. Sporting a livery that’s as period correct as everything else on the truck, the company that specializes in offering “the original solution for creating real raised white letter tires” has done a great job of making old school styling cool once again.
7. Big boy Ford fanaticism
This was without question one of the most monstrous trucks at the show, and at 6 feet even we were able to stand directly beneath the rear of the truck without touching. The amount of suspension and chassis engineering that went into making this pickup a reality is insane, and train horn specialist HornBlasters seemed to be benefiting from a steady flow of gawkers checking out this build every time we walked by.
8. Battle of the Builders’ FC170 badass
Mark Turner of Phoenix, Arizona is the owner of this gorgeous 1958 Jeep FC170. As a life-long builder of custom cars, it only seems fitting that the CEO of Daystar Products (an injection and cast polyurethane company) would humor his employees when asked if they could build the obscure machine after hours with the boss man. Five months later, and the little Jeep finds itself in the final run-off during the 2016 “Battle of the Builders” competition.
9. Judge red
Post-apocalyptic as all hell, and loaded with enough artillery to take down a small militia, this Jeep is a monster machine like no other, and seemed to draw a large crowd around the clock. With gull-wing doors and hatch unfurled, this 4×4 of incredible excess was both unforgettable and totally intimidating.
10. Asian anarchy incarnate
Sitting pretty at the Bully Dog booth was a Toyota Tundra of monolithic proportions. Rocking light bars, spike-encrusted fender flares, and all manner of off-road upgrade, the company that specializes in performance air induction systems and ECU programming really made a statement this year with this beast.
11. Quietly laying low and rolling coal
QuietRide Solutions, a sound deadening and insulation specialist out of Stockton, California, showcased a heavily modified 1962 Dodge D100 built by DCM Classics. The truck originally came with a slant-six engine, which was reportedly replaced with 4BT Cummins Diesel engine out of a Sara Lee bread truck along with a five-speed manual gearbox from a 1994 Dodge 3500. Polished in certain places, and purposefully imperfect in others, we were left smitten over this build due to its unique nature.
12. Super Duty, slimmed down
Rock crawling enthusiasts rejoice, because Utah-based custom vehicle builder and slinger of all things heavy duty Sparks Motors has the perfect solution to your issue with Ford’s Super Duty line being too “super sized.” The most interesting part of this build to us was how the rear looks like a shrunken version of the full-size model, and how it retains the “SUPER” part of the stamped tailgate along with the badging and tail lenses.
13. The Camburg-ler steals the show
Jerry Zaiden claims that when Camburg Racing accepted the challenge of making a race-ready version of the already agile Tacoma TRD-Pro, the decision to leave the majority of the truck’s drivetrain alone allowed the team to showcase how capable the vehicle already is in stock trim. This is no show truck either, folks; look for it to make its debut in the upcoming Mint 400, “The Great American Off-Road Race,” here in Las Vegas.
14. The One Eye Willys Jeep
This Jeep literally is referred to as the “One Eye Willys,” due in part to being a 1948 Willys CJ2A and because it only has one headlamp. (The passenger side light is now home to a turbo intake bell.) Sporting a 5.3-liter LS motor that’s been attached to a Turbonetics 82MM snail and a Nitrous Express system, this corn-fed upstart is easily the smallest and most unorthodox build on today’s cheat sheet.
15. Bootlegger copper machine
Complete with custom copper accents and a matching moonshine still in the bed, this 1941 Dodge Power Wagon was built in-house at Daystar Products by the same employees that brought you truck No. 8. Nicknamed “Bootlegger,” this hardcore moonshine runner features an LS3 motor that’s been attached to an Edelbrock supercharger in order to generate a whopping 720 horsepower.
16. F*cking hostile
We found this Jeep over at the Hostile Wheels booth in the lower section of the convention center’s South Hall. With its black and yellow killer bee color scheme, sharply hooked windscreen surround, matching grille, and aggressively angled fenders, it was pretty obvious right away that this bad boy belonged on the list.
17. Rockstar Garage’s Bronco
Our final entrant comes to you courtesy of Moto Metal Wheels and Rockstar Performance Garage (RPG), who teamed up with Heatshield Products in early August to build this Bronco. While the team admits that a delivery date of November 1 was a “tough burden” due to having a plethora of other builds and events on their plate, the team ultimately succeeded in showing the world what a proper resto-mod Bronco build should look like.