The SEMA Show, 2017
David G. Fox
If you want to learn about the hot rod as an American art form, you might start by learning about this car. It has been called the quintessential hot rod. It was on the cover of Hot Rod Magazine in 1948. It was in numerous films and TV shows, supplied the profile for an enduring car club logo, set a record at Bonneville, and has graced a U.S. postage stamp. Most recently, it was named number 16 on the National Historic Vehicle Register.
Although design and build elements are hard to characterize in terms of "who did it first," overall this roadster was likely well ahead of its time when built by Bob McGee in Southern California in 1947. Using a 1932 Ford roadster body atop a stock frame, fenderless, was highboy fashion from pre-war lakes racing. But here, the frame and suspension have been modified to bring everything down much closer to the ground. For example, McGee stepped (or Z'd) the frame rails in the area over the rear axle; the trunk got smaller, but the car got lower. Examples of custom design cues on the car include: a V-shaped spreader bar at the front of the frame, the top of the grille shell is filled and peaked, the three-piece hood has no visible hinges or latches, and the handle-less doors have hidden hinges. These cues didn't become commonplace on hot rods until years later. One item that marks this as the McGee car is the trunk lid; the original lid and the panel below it have been modified to be one long piece.
I came to know this car in a somewhat different guise in the early 1970's. It was on the Bonneville Salt Flats, and, if I recall correctly, sported red metalflake paint. Dick Scritchfield owned the car then, and had been instrumental in getting the SCTA to declare Street Roadster classes for land speed records. Scritch held the C/STR record in the 167 mph range for a number of years using small-block Chevy power. (Back in 1957, Scritch was a founding member of the LA Roadsters. You will note the similarity between our subject and the LA Roadsters' club logo.)
Bruce Meyer has owned the McGee-Scritchfield car for about 28 years. Bruce had it restored to its 1948 HRM cover form. Bob McGee passed away before the restoration was complete, but he was helpful for much of the process.
As the next step of your tutorial, go to YouTube and search "McGee Roadster." There are two videos that showcase the car and provide some general history of hot rodding. The "Jay Leno's Garage" episode is seventeen minutes long and from a few years back. "The McGee Roadster, Hot Rod Legend" runs 21 minutes and was produced in conjunction with the car's selection for the NHV Register.
So, what does the McGee car have to do with SEMA? History. If you look up the founding members of SEMA, you'll see a list of a dozen or so men/businesses from 1963, and you should recognize them as speed equipment sources for guys like Bob McGee and Dick Scritchfield to use in constructing and improving the performance of cars like this beautiful red roadster.
Marketing – presentation to vendors of products (and/or services) by manufacturers and developers – is the raison d'etre of the SEMA show. An important component of that is getting the word out on new stuff. Following are images of selected new products from SEMA 2017. Generally, only brief descriptions are provided. Presumably, if you found this site, you can find the websites of the makers of these products from the information given. I have observed over the years, especially with "new" products on display, that sometimes they are not in full production yet when presented at SEMA. And, sometimes a company's website will lag actual production. If a product referenced in anyone's SEMA Show coverage does not appear on the company's website, call the company to find out about the production schedule and other information.
Flowmaster, B&M & Hurst offers a period-look Blackjack shifter for Tremec transmissions. Each design puts the shifter in the proper location for specific applications using Magnum 6-speed or TKO 5-speed transmissions. MSRP for the item shown is $490.36.
Edlebrock has returned the Enforcer JR supercharger for small block Chevys to their catalog. This single carb unit is said to be capable of 507hp and 487lb-ft of torque on a 350 SBC with 9.5 to 1 compression. Also, it should fit under the hood of most muscle cars. MSRP was listed as $2799.87.
Finned aluminum valve covers for Chevrolet W motors look impressive. Show Cars Automotive, Inc., has these labeled 348 or 409 at $441.30 per pair.
Fitech EFI now has the Go EFI Tri Power self-learning electronic fuel injection system for select Ford, Chevy, and Chrysler applications. Pricing starts at $1995.
Speaking of Fitech, Lokar presented their stainless steel throttle and kickdown cable mounting bracket for using Lokar cables with Fitech (and Holley Sniper) EFI systems. MSRP: $89.99.
Adjustable for tanks up to 16 inches deep, this is Speedway Motors' submersible fuel pump module for EFI/LS swaps. MSRP: $252.99.
Chevrolet script valve covers for LS engines are billet parts from Don Hardy Race Cars.
Hooker (Holley MSD) offers cast iron exhaust manifolds for LS engine swaps. These two hug the block and have 2.5 inch outlets. The choice of back or center outlet depends on best fit.
A Pro Series Billet Distributor is available for Ford FE aficionados from Top Street Performance. MSRP: $170.
This 15x7 wheel from the Drake Automotive Group (Scott Drake) mimics the steel wheel used on many Ford performance cars from the late 1960s. MSRP: $169.95 without cap.
American Autowire was in the new product area with a couple of universal wiring systems and this updated wiring kit for modified 1963-1967 Corvettes. The Corvette kit comes with new major switches and is "designed to be compatible with most stock and aftermarket components." MSRP: $1099.
CVF Racing brought the "Wraptor" serpentine belt system for Coyote Ford engines. Four configurations are available to suit your option list (A/C and/or power steering). It comes with brackets, pulleys, belt, tensioner, alternator, and other accessories as needed.
Speedmaster is back with a beefed up Ford 351W aluminum block. It has stronger webbing and billet steel four-bolt main caps for racing and power adder applications, plus it retains the original water jacket design. MSRP: $2000.
R3Performance Products is marketing a "100% bolt-on and easy-to-install" front suspension system for 1965-1970 Mustangs at $7250. It's said to be SBF and Coyote compatible.
New from Ridetech is the R-Joint. Using a 17-4 investment-cast stainless housing with rolled threads, a polished SS ball, and Delrin AF cage, this product articulates in three planes. The R- Joint is said to combine "the best qualities of low friction movement, lateral stability, full range articulation, and quiet operation into one special bearing that is as at home on the street as it is on the racetrack."
Looking like something out of a science fiction film, this is a geometry corrected, on-car adjustable, tubular upper a-arm for B and E body Dodge cars from Hotchkis Sport Suspension. "Dramatically improve the cornering performance and steering response of your Dodge." MSRP: $900.
Detroit Speed, Inc., wants to make your C2 or C3 Corvette handle, seriously. The SpeedRay front suspension can be a bolt-in, depending on the shocks you are willing to use. The DECAlink rear setup uses modern CV axle joints, and everything from the hubs inward (except the diff) is upgraded for the track. To get the full benefit, you may have to flare those fenders for more rubber. Everything looks like typically superb Detroit Speed engineering. The front half starts at $5750. The back half starts at $8950. Note, the frame rails are not included.
Flaming River Aluminum Roadster Column, need we say more? Well, vintage looks, no electronics, three-bolt wheel pattern, and dual bearings all apply. MSRP: $299.
I quite like these wide-sweep "Stack" instruments from AutoMeter. "Cutting edge gauge technology with timeless styling, perfect for vintage motorsports applications."
Retro Manufacturing offers radios with modern technology and device compatibility behind a vintage appearance. The Wonder Bar will tune radio (including SiriusXM) up and down, sort through folders on your iPhone, etc. They have a variety of other models with appropriate appearance.
Automobile Manufacturer Displays
The OEMs bring out various levels of new-car projects, restored vintage cars, performance parts displays, etc. Here is some of what caught my eye.
The Ford GT40 Mark IV that was driven to Le Mans victory in 1967 by Dan Gurney and A. J. Foyt.
A production 2018 Ford GT, in 1967 Heritage Edition colors.
1951 Ford F1 by Premier Street Rods.
1932 Ford Tudor by Johnson's Hot Rod Shop, complete with a 400hp, 339ci, electronic fuel injected Ford Y-block.
Iron Man's 1970 Boss 302 by Speedkore Performance Group has Detroit Speed suspension and a Ford Performance Aluminator 5.0 with FP/Roush supercharger. Scattered around the car are numerous Speedkore carbon fiber panels and bits.
2018 Mustang Shelby Super Snake "Wide Body" concept by Shelby American.
Suspended is an R3 Performance Products reproduction early Mustang body shell, Ford licensed. Underneath is the Original Venice Crew Mustang GT350 "competition model sports car."
More of the OVC GT350 competition model. Note the "ventilating" rear window and slight fender flairs over the independent rear suspension; all were considered for the GT350R back in 1965. Visit ovcmustangs.com to learn about these reconstructions.
New Ford Z2427 crate motor is built on the Ford Performance BOSS 351 block. The Z2 refers to the new aluminum cylinder heads, and the 427 comes from a 4.125 inch bore and 4.00 inch stroke. Strong internals include the forged steel crank and connecting rods (H-beam). "Ideal for Ford projects requiring 500+ horsepower in a reliable small block package."
2018 Mustang 5.0L V8, 460hp and 420lb-ft.
This 1957 fuelie Corvette is one of 43 cars produced in 1957 with the "Airbox" option. The passageway against the driver's side inner fender draws cooler intake air from the front of the compartment. Among the items also included with that option are an 8,000rpm tachometer relocated to the steering column and deletion of the radio, heater, and spark plug wiring shielding. This car also has the "big brakes" option, which includes a heavy duty racing suspension.
She's still fine.
The 2018 Corvette Z06 Carbon 65 Edition celebrates 65 years of the Corvette with 650hp and 650lb-ft of torque in a "ceramic matrix gray" package.
2018 Camaro, Hot Wheels Fiftieth Anniversary Edition.
The flip side of a Camaro 2SS with accessories and performance parts highlighted.
Chevrolet Performance continues to pump out plenty of crate motor options.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles returned to showing some heritage/nostalgia in their booth at SEMA, along with a selection of high performance parts. And, they brought the illumination level up a bit.
"This production-based NSX, with GT3-inspired modifications, earned a podium finish in the Time Attack 1 class at the 2017 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb."
Feature Cars – the Muscle Era
Once again, Chip Foose delighted with a clever new take on an older Ford. The outward starting point for "Mach Foose" was a 1971 Mustang, perhaps not the prettiest edition of the marque. Here, it is visibly transformed in a major way with 1970 rear quarter panel sections grafted on and the front wheels pushed forward three inches to reduce front overhang. Of course, there are numerous other changes to the shell, including lower sills that visually "thicken" the body a bit, further improving the car's proportions. The biggest reveal of all is that the revised 1971 shell has been mated with a 2011 Mustang GT platform, in effect, creating a 2011 GT with an enhanced early body. The process started by locating the rear wheels appropriately in the shell. It was discovered that this placed the 2011 firewall in the same position as the 1971. The platform was extended five inches in front of the firewall to place the front wheels in the desired location. Yes, a 2011 Mustang has a shorter wheelbase than does a 1971. All in all, it's brilliant.
Bobby Alloway had three cars in the Battle of the Builders at SEMA 2017, all distinctly different, but all identifiably Alloway. This 1965 Mustang uses Detroit Speed suspension at each end and a Robert Yates small block from Trans Am racing in the period around 1990. Note how much room a first edition Mustang engine compartment has when the Aluma-Frame suspension conversion is used.
Another early Mustang with a Detroit Speed front suspension is "Throwback." This one uses a fuel injected FE motor, I'm guessing with Trick Flow parts.
Exquisite blue Chevelle, supercharged.
Four takes on the first generation Camaro, beginning with a 1969 Yenko.
The Ring Brothers' subtle, but much modified, take on a 1969 Dodge Charger is called the "Defector."
There was never anything subtle about a Plymouth Superbird. This one is from King Richard's shop in North Carolina.
The "Mariani A Model" from Rad Rides by Troy was the 2017 SEMA Battle of the Builders winner.
A couple of AMBR contenders from last January.
Debbie (and Skip) Walls gorgeous 1940 Ford convertible has been reborn with revised styling by Goolsby Customs.
Another Bobby Alloway entry in the Battle of the Builders was this 1940 Ford coupe. The all reproduction body (except hood) has all been subtly massaged for the Alloway look. It's finished in black, and under the hood is a Jon Kaase Boss 429 motor.
The 1941 Ford woody sports a Ford Performance 5.0L Coyote engine.
The pickup uses United Pacific's new 1932-34 Ford body parts.
Rick Dore's all hand built "Illusion," with body by Luc Delay at Marcel's, rides on an Art Morrison chassis. Very Art Deco.
The trimmed down 1957 Ford Fairlane convertible custom, by Kindig It Design in Salt Lake City, sports mint green accents and a 427 FE motor.
Big Boss motor in a 1957 Ford Ranch Wagon.
The third Bobby Alloway car in the Battle of the Builders was this 1955 Plymouth Savoy two-door post with all the Alloway touches: slammed, smoothed, big back tires, and a great big motor (a Hemi this time). The custom chassis is from Art Morrison.
Two different takes on the F100. Clean aqua truck has a detailed FE motor. The patina'd truck uses a Roush-supercharged four-cam modular motor.
High dollar Bonneville.
What we're selling here is alignment equipment, but I love this view of a (repop) Daytona coupe.
1952 Cunningham C-3 with what appears to be the original 331ci Chrysler Hemi
Is This a Thing?
Some things just seem wrong to me, like the slammed early Porsche with the swing axles tilting the wheels into the body.
I'm sure this is a thing in Moab.
Rally car? 4X4 deer hunter? What? Not.
Somehow this does recall the Falcon rally days when Holman & Moody was Ford racing.
Seriously? A friend of mine has a saying: It answers a question that no one asked. Then again, a lot of younger folks seem to think four- door performance cars are just the thing.
Smoke 'em if you've got 'em?
Okay. This year there seemed to me to be quite a few more bands playing at various times and places around the Las Vegas Convention Center. But. There also seemed to me to be a dearth of the young ladies who sign calendars and posters and pose for pictures and such. Not a good trade to my eyes. I hope it's not a thing.
These three were very nice. It may have had to do with the name connection.
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