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Aftermarket’s Four Favorites Honored as Show’s ‘Hottest’
Although the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) likes to boast that it brings the world’s newest custom goodies to Las Vegas for the annual SEMA Show, this year’s award-winning vehicles had a distinctly familiar look to them. Well, maybe not a “familiar look”—this was the SEMA Show after all—but the fact of the matter was that this year’s Hottest Vehicles were the same as last year’s: The Ford Mustang and Ford F-Series, as well as the Jeep Wrangler and Scion FR-S, all repeated their victories as the Hottest 4x4 SUV, Hottest Sport Compact, Hottest Car and Hottest Truck at the 2013 event. For the uninitiated, that means earning recognition as the vehicles that: “specialty-equipment manufacturers believe are the best platforms for accessorization and that showcase the year’s coolest products.”
As explained by Chris J. Kersting, president and CEO of SEMA: "Our SEMA Show exhibitors are industry visionaries who determine the winners of the SEMA Awards. The booth space is a ballot and the vehicles they choose to showcase in their booths are a vote. The most prominent models in each category are the winners."
Particularly impressive this year were the victories for the Wrangler and the F-Series, which have now earned Hottest honors in each of the four years since the recognition program was launched, but we do have some nifty examples of all four winners in the following gallery.
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2013 SEMA’s Hottest: Ford Mustang
While all of the modern-day muscle cars have their own unique combinations of power and style, the continued aftermarket popularity of the Ford Mustang goes beyond the vehicle itself, according to John Felice, the automaker’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service. It also has to do with the company’s active support for the tuning community.
“Ford was the first automaker to share detailed vehicle specs with SEMA members,” noted Felice. “Thirty years later, we’re proud that more aftermarket accessories and parts are created for Ford vehicles than for any other automaker.”
Among them is the Vortech supercharger that sits beneath the hood of the Yellow Jack Ford Mustang GT. Mating one of Vortech’s big blowers to the Blue Oval’s 5.0-liter V8, the Yellow Jacket packs 605 hp worth of sting and 473 lb.-ft. worth of torque, with six-piston Baer 6S brakes to help reign in that power when necessary. A “Boy Racer” body kit from 3dCarbon provides a matching, more aggressive appearance, but it’s the Yellow Jacket’s DuPont finish that seals the deal.
“As a lifelong Ford fan, I was inspired to create this project car when I realized Ford doesn’t offer yellow on the 2014 Mustang,” said Brian Ellis, sales, marketing and social media manager for AirPower Group at Vortech. “We wanted to create something really eye-popping with a mechanical package to match the appearance.”
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2013 SEMA’s Hottest: Ford F-Series
“In the world of half-ton pickups, it doesn’t get much better than the F-Series,” reported SEMA’s Asifa Mirza as she introduced the Ford F-Series as this year’s Hottest Truck. And the best of the best—at least in terms of performance and custom good looks—is the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor shown here.
The SEMA-ready Raptor offers wild graphics, high-performance off-road hardware and a 6.2-liter V8 right out of the box, with that unit delivering 411 hp and 434 lb.-ft. of torque. Also, not only does the engine provide enough grunt to haul a small boat—with a 6,000-lb. max tow rating in the Raptor and an 11,300-lb mark in other F-Series trucks—but it also has enough grunt to power a small boat.
Which is why Ford further used the 2013 SEMA Show to announce it would get back into the marine-engine segment, partnering with Indmar Marine to offer the big V8 for boating applications.
“The 6.2-liter engine was specifically built for a truck, providing the torque needed to tow heavy weight—which is exactly what today’s high-performance watercraft need,” said Chuck Rowe, president of Indmar Marine Engines. “Our sport has evolved, and with heavier boats, bigger wakes and larger ballast and passenger capacity, the demand on the engine is even greater. We looked at the total market, and have spent a great deal of time, research and development dollars to find an engine that will best fit the demands of watersports.”
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2013 SEMA’s Hottest: Jeep Wrangler
Now, as mentioned, this was hardly the first SEMA Award for the Jeep Wrangler, and once again we have a case in which a brand’s commitment to the aftermarket is being rewarded by its fans.
Said Pietro Gorlier, president and CEO of the Chrysler Group’s Mopar service, parts and customer care division: “It’s amazing to have the Jeep Wrangler recognized for a fourth straight year by SEMA with this award. The Wrangler is our most accessorized vehicle and to see it consistently winning accolades is a demonstration of the quality of the vehicle and the work that Mopar has put in to develop accessories and quality Jeep Performance Parts. Enthusiasts will be happy to know we have just added new offerings to our more than 300 performance parts and accessories already available for this vehicle to provide even more options for customization.”
Highlights from the new Jeep Performance Parts catalog—now packed with more than 300 items—include Dana 44 front and rear axles that bolt into any 2007-2014 Jeep Wrangler, as well as an array of lift kits, bumpers, winches, skid plates and suspension components.
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2013 SEMA’s Hottest: Scion FR-S
There was no sophomore slump at SEMA for the Scion FR-S. Instead, the car built on its success from 2012, when it heated up the event by bringing affordable, rear-wheel-drive performance back to both the aftermarket and the marketplace as a whole. For 2013, the action continued with four more SEMA builds, ranging from the 750-hp GReddy Performance drift car to an FR-S created by DJ/producer Steve Aoki.
The former receives its big-time boost in power from a GReddy turbocharger, and also wears an aero-enhancing body kit, while the latter is configured as a mobile entertainment hub, with a mixing station, custom audio setup, deck-lid-mounted LCD, and even a fog machine and strobe lights.
Providing the party line here is Dave Harbuck, corporate manager for Scion, who said: “We’re honored to take home the Hottest Sport Compact award two years in a row, reflecting fans’ continued excitement around the FR-S. Whether here at SEMA or out on the road, the FR-S is a true enthusiast’s car. The power and possibilities for personalization inspire our owners to take this car to new levels.”
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