Page 1: Intro
It is here that sheet metal gets a personality. Here where engines and tires, previously built to behave, learn about rude manners and smoky burnouts, and here where cars learn to climb over boulders as if suspended in air.
Here, then, is SEMA. Otherwise known as the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association trade show, it is an automotive carnival stretching across 2 million square feet of convention space, celebrating the uniquely American art of creating something special out of metal, iron, combustion and paint. Thanks to the legions of shade tree mechanics that have opened stalls and inspired automakers since the early sixties, SEMA has come to represent the act of putting creative life into the industrial chill of production lines and factories.
SEMA is to take an appliance and turn it into a society icon such as the Ford Mustang. It is to take a car most Americans can afford, pretty it up and into something more. The Mustang is a perfect SEMA car, along with the pony cars of the past. Today, sadly, it stands alone, and according to Ford, fully 9 percent of the “SEMA market” is dedicated to Mustang.
Wherefore art thou, Camaro and Firebird? Only Lutz knows. And it is quite a bit late in the game for a rekindling. General Motors has other places to go, anyway: they seem focused on putting a SEMA bounce into their existing product lines, especially Pontiac and Saturn. At this year’s show, Gary Cowger, General Motors president for North America, ushered in a new GXP Grand Prix and previewed a Pontiac G6 GXP. Cowger also commented on the fact that GM is dedicated to the aftermarket business, as it is a $29 billion industry, especially when it comes to crate engines and wheels – so look for General Motors to expand its offering in both.