Walking into an automotive Mecca like the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas with the intention of picking out the best hot rods is almost a laughable task. Not only are there hundreds of cars and trucks to choose from, half of which you’ll never get the chance to see even if you ran up and down every aisle of the show for four days, but there is also a preponderance of manufactures, styles, eras, and modification levels to consider. Still, we do our best to bring you SOME of the best hot rods from major shows like SEMA.
Below you’ll find Rod Authority’s SEMA Top 5, just a handful of standouts we had to know more about from the show, in no particular order of course.
Built by Donn Lowe, this gorgeous 1950 Chevy greeted us with a smile in the entrance way to Center Hall on our first day at SEMA. Unique in every way, the color scheme was an instant draw, but a closer look revealed just how unique this classic Chevy truly is.
Featuring a one and a half-inch chop in the front and a two-inch chop in the rear, the 1950 Chevy has been transformed from its factory-built state in many ways. The car was nosed and decked, as well as fitted with hand-made side moldings and rocker panels, 1952 Ford fender openings, a 1953 Chevy grille surround, and a hand-made grille bar.
It also features front and rear splash pans that have been molded into the body, a three fourths-inch wedge sectioned decklid, 1950 Oldsmobile windshield, a stock front bumper with Oldsmobile wings, 1950 Oldsmobile rear bumper, upside-down mounted 1951 Fraiser taillights, and Frenched headlights.
Giving the car its name is its unique paint scheme of PPG Vanilla Shake with gold accents, which were scalloped and pinstriped by Mitch Kim.
Inside, the Chevy is outfitted with a custom 1950s Cadillac black and white interior with black carpeting and gold accents. Modern amenities include a Vintage Air conditioning system and a Flaming River tilt steering column with shift lever, while the car maintains its stock steering wheel, radio, and gauges. A dash extension was also fitted into the interior.
Powering the car is a Chevy 283 ci Tri-Power engine with stainless RAM Horn headers, a polished Be Cool aluminum radiator, custom finned valve covers, carburetor and intake covers.
This is backed by a 350C transmission, which pushes the engine’s power to the rear wheels via a narrowed 9-inch rearend.
Supporting the car are Fat Jack dropped spindles attached to the stock frame, which was C-notched in the rear. Stock A-arms are also used in the suspension configuration, as well as modified springs.
It may be a bit on the unconventional side, but Ford’s EcoBoost-powered ’33 Factory Five Roadster was truly legit. Parked out front among the company’s other “Ford Out Front” vehicles, we couldn’t get enough of how well the modern engine and classic roadster body style were integrated.
Obviously, the most notable part of this car is the fact that it’s powered by Ford’s new 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engine.
With all-aluminum construction, this powerplant offers a light-weight (just 417-pounds without the accessory drive) source of power, featuring dual overhead camshafts with variable timing, High Pressure Direct Fuel Injection, a 10.0:1 compression ratio, a fully counter-weighted forged steel crankshaft and dual water-cooled Honeywell/Garrett GT15 turbochargers. This gives the roadster a 365 hp punch at 5,000 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm.
The body of the car is all Factory Five with company components found throughout the interior and chassis setup. Other components, like the wheels, come straight from Ford Racing. The car also features a Wilwood pedal setup, Autometer gauges, and Pirelli P Zero Rosso high performance tires.
Originally owned by DeFoor’s father, this classic pickup truck is quite the family heirloom. One of nearly 60 antique cars and trucks DeFoor’s father R.C. left behind when he passed away in 2006, this truck has since become the representative piece of Mr. R.C. DeFoor’s legacy and is aptly named.
Designed by Busta Design, this amazing “luxury touring truck” is the result of two long years of work by Pratt & Miller Engineering’s Restoration and Specialty Vehicle Division, which included a full body restoration, the incorporation of a modern power train, and high-performance handling capabilities bestowed upon the truck using a custom Roadster Shop chassis and coilover suspension system.
While the body of the truck features many factory design cues, which are preserved from R.C. DeFoor’s collecting days, it also features many unique components, like custom front and rear bumpers, a custom electric bed cover, Curly Maple truck bed, and frenched headlights. The fine restoration work and body modifications are set off by a custom Wandabase mix, with the top half of the truck painted in titanium and the bottom half painted in Copper Blaze.
Painting was taken care of by Technosports Creative in Livonia, Michigan.
Inside, the truck follows the one-off vibe with a custom two-tone leather interior, Vintage Air conditioning system, custom gauges, navigation system with backup camera, power windows, and a Touch-n-Go start.
While the truck looks great, it also runs amazingly well thanks to a modified Chevy LS3 power plant good for 530 hp. This potent engine is backed by a GM 4L60e automatic transmission and Ford 9-inch rearend.
Tying the truck to the ground are Bonspeed Big-Block wheels tied into the coilover suspension system and backed by Wilwood six-piston brakes.
Built by Barry Dorhamm of Dorhamm Custom Auto, this amazing ’35 Ford sedan is owned and enjoyed by CEO of Heartthrob Exhaust.
Built atop its original frame that was modified with a Speedway center section, the car features a Ford 306 ci engine with an MSD ignition and an Inglese induction system. Being closely tied to Heartthrob Exhaust, the car also features a two and a half-inch 304 mandrel bent exhaust and SS HVS mufflers from the company. Backing the Ford 306 ci is a Tremec six-speed transmission.
The ’35 Ford’s handling capabilities are bolstered by power rack and pinion steering and a full Kugel suspension system (both front and rear) with coilover shocks.
Four-wheel power disc brakes from Wilwood take care of the car’s stopping needs while 16×18-inch Daytona wheels wrapped in Diamond Back tires keep the car planted to the pavement.
Giving the car its gorgeous aesthetics are slight body modifications, taken care of by Dorhamm, underneath a unique House of Kolor DP35 Deep Blue Pearl paint scheme laid over black.
The interior follows closely behind in uniqueness with a custom leather interior from JT Upholstery and a mix of stock gauges and Classic Industries components.
The list of top hot rods from the 2014 SEMA Show wouldn’t be complete without a classic gasser and we found the perfect example in James Bostick’s 1942 Willys Coupe built by Cambra Speed Shop (CSS).
Powered by a Superior Automotive-built 392 ci HEMI engine, which features Hilborn injection and a massive Hampton blower, this classic Willys Gasser is backed by a 1957 Oldsmobile rearend with Posi-traction and 4.11 gears. Planting the car to the ground are Coker tires on the front and slicks sourced from Speedway Motors out back, wrapped around ET III wheels.
With body work done by Cypress Auto Body and fabrication taken care of by Rick Kirsh and Gregg Petersen of CSS, the Willys maintains its classic body lines with a few finishing touches under a custom PPG paint scheme. Inside, the car is just as gorgeous thanks to a custom interior from Westminster Auto Upholstery, featuring Kotto glass and Classic Instruments gauges.
One amazing gem, it’s no wonder that PPG proudly displayed it in their SEMA booth among many other amazing vehicles.
While every vehicle has a price, no matter how big or small, the bonus hot rod of our SEMA Top 5 is actually up for grabs at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction in January.
Known as Double Trouble, this gorgeous hot rod was an America’s Most Beautiful Roadster contender and a multi-award winner at the Detroit Autorama and Grand National Roadster Show, and just one look at it and you’ll see why.
Powered by a Rose Motorsports-built 296 ci V8 engine, the 60s-style drag/show roadster is fitted with the best in high performance components, including a Blower Shop 671 billet blower, Tremec five-speed manual transmission and a Halibrand Quick Change rearend. Other notable features of the car include Candy Apple Red paint with gold leaf details and a custom interior, complete with a red Plexiglas dash, and Stewart Warner gauges.
It took us many days of searching to decide on these SEMA Top 5 vehicles, but they’re certainly not the only ones we could have featured.
Honestly, our job would never be complete if we were to feature ALL of the amazing hot rods at SEMA, and we mean that as an extraordinary compliment. You may agree or disagree with some of our picks, so we encourage you to share your favorite hot rods from the 2014 SEMA Show in the comments below.