The SEMA Show has been considered somewhat of a barometer for automotive performance.
Problem is the SEMA Show is so large, spotting trends is kind of like trying to see the forest through the proverbial trees. Except at SEMA, the trees are long-legged models handing out posters of themselves. We navigated through the forest of aftermarket goodness in search of some of the hottest trends.
Some trends were obvious. The race is on to produce new parts for the C7 Corvette and new generation Ford Mustang. As the Jeep JK gains steam as Jeep’s mainstream vehicle, the aftermarket also continues to make accessories to capitalize on its broad appeal. And the 2015 Ford F-150 will undoubtedly command more attention from manufacturers, too.
While these are viable trends, we excluded no-brainers from our list of top six trends from SEMA 2014.
Here’s what we have:
It was hard to miss some of the bright colored wheels on display—especially when some of them were as much as 24 inches in diameter. The big trend for this year was to complement a vehicle’s paint job with brightly colored wheels. Or, many builders used wheels with brightly colored accents to match the body’s paint color. Blue, gold, red—you name the color, and you could find the corresponding wheel somewhere in the Las Vegas Convention Center.
LEDs and LED Accessories
We noticed this trend last year, but it continued to gain momentum in 2014. The number of auxiliary lighting companies offering LED lights and bars has exploded. Now, more and more exterior accessory companies are incorporating LED lights into other items such as grilles, grille inserts, and bull bars. This makes LED lighting among the fastest-growing accessory markets in the industry.
We saw diesel engines in the usual spots—in trucks and certain import vehicles. But we also saw older cars and even rat rods sporting inline diesel engines. And the amount of parts and accessories for diesel engines continues to be on the rise. Diesel engines are rapidly gaining acceptance among the traditional hot rod crowd.
We’re not just talking about grilles, either. What we saw were classic cars with a combination of modified grilles, modern lights, custom front splitters, ground effects, and even noses from other rides. It some cases, it made for sort of a “mutt” appearance. In other cases, it worked—much like the trusty ol’ ’32 Ford grille shell works on other vehicles.
Suspension Conversions for Older Cars
While LS-, LT1-, and Coyote-based power upgrades continue to flood into the market, we couldn’t help but notice some of the new handling parts for older vehicles. While the idea of modern handling for vintage cars is hardly new, companies like QA1 and RideTech earned high praise for their complete rear suspension conversion kits for older Chargers, Corvettes, and the like. They’ve simply taken the idea to another level.
While industry vets like Edelbrock and MSD made big news, we couldn’t help but notice the amount of newer, smaller up-and-comers that gained recognition at the show. Do names like Silverback, DECKED, or Switch-Pros ring a bell? If they don’t, you’re likely to hear about them very soon as each of these companies took home a SEMA new product award. And there were several other newer companies just like them that earned praise—many of which were in business three years or less.
The future of the aftermarket looks brighter than ever.