A cool product is one that solves a problem or makes something you have better or is just so drool-worthy that it transcends utility. SEMA is all about automotive products of every imaginable kind and a few you never would have conceived. Sometimes the coolness is the simplicity, other times it’s the ingenuity. As always, we wish we’d seen more of the show, but here’s what stood out during our journey through the SEMA jungle.
by Bob Beamesderfer
MyRide Road Test Editor
Photo Credit: Staff
2008 Ford Mustang FR500S
So you want to go racing, but maybe you don’t have time or inclination to build a car. Ford Racing has your answer: the Mustang FR500S, a production race car you can order through Ford dealers. To go along with, is a new spec series, the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup. The car is being built on the production line at Flat Rock, Mich., and has the 4.6 liter, three-valve V-8, which will be dyno tested and sealed by Roush Industries. The price of admission: $75,000. First year production is limited to 77 cars.
UCoat It Garage Floor Paint
We all dream of creating the Garage-mahal, but cost can be a tough obstacle to get over. Lighting, tool chests, drywall and floor coating all add up. Do-it-yourself epoxy floor paint for your garage can run a couple grand for the fancier color flecked finishes. But don’t despair; if you can live with a plain finish, it can be as cheap as $0.44 a square foot, which brings the cost of coating a 24 by 24 foot garage to about $250 for epoxy. A prep kit is another $60. For about $300, you can have a floor that reflects light and makes spills easier to clean up.
Twist Machine Shrifter Paddle Shifters
If you own an older muscle car with a modern electronic transmission and want paddle shifters and a manual mode, Twist Machine has a setup that works with GM 4L60E and 4L80E trannies and the Ford A0DE. The Shrifter fits quite a few model years of GM, Ford and Chrysler vehicles and a few Nissans. It only provides forward gears, leaving reverse and park on the stock shifter for safety reasons. Twist’s proprietary electronics work with most of the popular transmission controllers. Pulling on one of the paddles sends a signal to the computer, which in turn determines if and how hard to shift.
Monztrous Design Studioz MagnaDiffs
Designer and surfer Adam Paskowitz was having reliability problems with the differentials in his modified SUV and van. He started putting large magnets on the back of the housing to capture the metal chips that were wrecking havoc on the final drive. Given that his vehicles are lifted and he’s a designer, Paskowitz decided to dress them up. The result is MagnaDiffs, a product he co-developed with ex-Mattel and Hot Wheels designer Gary Niles. In addition to the American flag, there will be skull, spider, iron cross, bass fish, pirate and dollar sign. They’re designed to fit just about any differential.
Lexus F-Sport Performance Accessories
Even though Lexus has supported racing efforts for several years, the automaker’s profile is that of a luxury brand. With the IS F coming to market, Toyota’s luxury division is sharing the love with owners of the IS 250 and 350. The F-Sport accessory line includes upgraded brakes, suspension components, wheels, intake, exhaust, clutch, short shifter and aero parts, all developed by TRD. Factory performance parts covered by the new car warranty? Cool. One of the displays had an F-Sport wheel on a balance beam with an AMG wheel. Guess which one was lighter? All of you who said F-Sport, go to the head of the class.
Even if your ride is a finely tuned and maintained machine, chances are that if you do any work on it you will encounter a stubborn nut or bolt. The old solution was to get length of galvanized pipe to use as a “cheater.” It was often a clumsy arrangement, and occasionally tools were damaged or broken. The folks at ETD Inc. have a solution called, logically enough, The Extender. What makes it better than a piece of pipe is that it holds a variety of tools and it can be used with torque wrenches. It comes in four lengths from 10- to 29-inches long.
Managing cargo in the bed of a pickup is a challenge. Add a tonneau or shell, and getting to gear at the front can mean crawling. The Bedslide puts your cargo on a sliding shelf that pulls out from the tail, making it easier to reach. The shelf glides on rails that install in the bed, but only requires two holes to be drilled. The Standard model has three locking positions, a deck of marine plywood and quarter-inch rubber mat and holds 1,200 pounds. A Contractor model adds more roller bearings and reinforcement to up the capacity to 1,800 pounds.
Engines experience wear from a couple of sources, including tiny metal particles circulating in the oil. The filter catches the larger particles, but bits smaller than 25 microns stay in the oil and put the hurt on areas like bearings. Filtermag is a magnetic product designed to catch the smallest iron particles and trap them against the side of the oil filter. Made in different sizes, Filtermag snaps in place on the outside of the oil filter and the rare-earth magnets do the rest. It can be used on any machine that uses an oil filter.
Sulastic Rubber Springs
If the ride of your pickup or SUV too rough Sulastic has a solution for you. The call it a rubber spring, but it’s really a couple of bushings that damp the harshness of leaf springs. The company says the product can cut driver fatigue by smoothing out the ride, and makes the vehicle easier to drive with large loads or while towing. The device doesn’t affect load capacity, ride height or warranty. They make applications for everything from small to heavy duty pickups and vans.
QuietRide Tightening Ball Mount and Lock
Towing a trailer in stop and go traffic ranks as one of our least favorite things to do. The clank of the ball mount in the receiver is annoying. Beyond the tedium of hearing the noise, having the load repeatedly go slack and then tight stresses your tow vehicle’s drive train. Softride’s QuietRide is a ball mount that tightens in place using a threaded hitch pin and a nut fixed inside the mount. The mount is pulled into the corner of the receiver by the threaded pin and the company’s “gold wedge.” With the ball mount held tightly in place, the noise and slack are eliminated.
Mother’s PowerBall 4Paint
Getting a really nice finish on your car can be a time-consuming chore. Mother’s has taken their PowerBall metal polishing idea and made a foam ball for waxing or polishing painted surfaces. Like the other PowerBalls, just attach the 4Paint model to your drill, apply wax or polish to the ball and shine on. There are also two PowerBall Minis, both for polishing, but the MD (Metal Doctor) model is designed to remove tough scratches and stains from polished aluminum and stainless steel. The smaller balls come with an extension rod to make it easy to get into tight spots.
MusicGiants Concierge Collection
MP3 players are great for storing a lot of music in a small device, but they lack the sonic quality of uncompressed digital music. MusicGiants, which specializes in high-end audio downloads, now offers Music Concierge Collections. The company describes the new service as collections of “the most influential songs of every generation and have made them available in several genres including jazz, blues, rock and classical.” The packages cost from $500 to $2,500 and are delivered on a hard drive. On the show floor, the company was using a new Seagate drive made especially for automotive use.
For those who would rather not paint their garage floor there’s RaceDeck modular flooring. Made of a high-tech, chemical-resistant plastic, the 12-by-12 or 18-by-18 inch tiles snap together. Installation is faster than paint and the floor can be removed and reassembled, handy for those who want their show car sitting on something nicer. The tiles come in a variety of colors, surfaces and finishes, which allows a custom pattern or color scheme. RaceDeck is more expensive than the cheaper epoxy paint kits, but it has features that some buyers might find make it worth the cost.
DeadBolt Ultimate Tow Kit
Keyed-alike locks are one of those things that once you have them you can’t imagine going back to having more keys than that guy in the second “Matrix” movie. Deadbolt knows that and came up with a kit that includes a tow ball and mount, trailer and hitch locks, plus a heavy duty cable to lock the cargo, such as an ATV, motorcycle, snowmobile or garden tractor. When you’re not using it, the whole kit stows in a molded case. DeadBolt was also showing Soft Hitch Guard, a nifty tow ball cover made of a soft material, good for sparing your shins.