If it’s early November, it must be time for the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The automotive aftermarket’s annual analogue to Woodstock or Comic Con always serves up an interesting crop of new custom cars and trucks. Some are built to showcase new parts and/or models, some show serve as business cards of sorts for the shops that built them, and some offer hints at potential future product development directions for the OEMs. What follows, in no particular order, are 20 vehicles that fall into one or more of the above categories while, at the same time, grabbed our attention.
Muscle trucks are nothing new, nor are they terribly uncommon, but it’s been a little while since a manufacturer has actually offered one to the public. Ford recently changed that with the F-150 Tremor package (a regular cab, short bed 2WD Effy with the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 and some snazzy stripes), and arch nemesis Chevrolet might not be far behind. This Silverado Cheyenne Concept (Cheyenne was, for many years, the name of a trim level on Chevy’s full-size pickups and Suburbans.) rocks a lower ride height, a tame-ish body kit, Camaro Z/28 wheels and carbon-ceramic brakes and, critically, the top dog 420 horsepower 6.2L V8 that’s usually reserved for uplevel extended cab and crew cab Silverados. A production version probably wouldn’t be this radical, but that doesn’t make us want one less.
Volkswagen is currently in the midst of rolling out its new EA888 turbocharged inline-four engine in 1.8L and 2.0L forms; it replaces the current 2.0L turbo and 2.5L inline-five found in the Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Golf, Beetle and Passat. To help mark this changeover, VW commissioned the construction of a couple of custom Jettas. Our favorite of the two is called the Racer’s Dream Concept. This white-hot widebody is one of the cleanest European tuner cars we’ve seen in a while, with track-focused parts inside and out. And the track is the best place to uncork the 2.0L EA888 under the hood, which now makes a claimed 425 horsepower thanks to an APR turbo kit.
The Toyota Camry is widely regarded as the most unexciting car you can buy, but that didn’t stop NASCAR driver Parker Kligerman and Kyle Busch Motorsports (the team for which he drives in the NASCAR Nationwide Series) from using the khaki pants of automobiles as the foundation for something wild. That something wild is the CamRally Camry, a WRC-inspired super sedan with flared fenders, spoilers, driving lights and classic Toyota racing colors (white with yellow, orange and red striping). The gutted interior features a full roll cage, while the 3.5L V6 engine features a custom turbocharger setup. Somewhere, Ove Andersson is nodding in approval.
For a brief, shining moment, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe was the hottest rear-drive Asian sport coupe under the sun. Then the cheaper, smaller Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ twins came along and started gobbling up the tuning world’s attention and affection. Thankfully, Bisimoto hasn’t forgotten about the quintessential Korean pony car; instead, it blessed this particular Genesis Coupe with a lower ride height, mammoth Incurve wheels, a roll cage and, oh yeah, a twin turbo kit that takes the 3.8L V6 up to a nice, round 1,000 horsepower. Something tells us that parachute on the trunklid isn’t just for decoration…
When it comes to popular classic pickup trucks, there’s the 1953-’56 Ford F-100, and there’s everything else. So when rock legend Gene Simmons and his wife Shannon Tweed wanted a radically customized classic hauler, they decided to go with “the safe choice.” However, while the base truck might not go against the grain, the many major modifications made to it (including a reshaped bed and a Shelby GT500-esque face) do set it apart from the crowd. And the 5.4L supercharged V8 putting down 550 horsepower will help it escape any crowd, and do so quickly!
But here’s the best part: You might be able to make this trick truck your own. “Snakebit” will be auctioned off next year to benefit the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan, which is raising money to build a new medical facility in Tweed’s hometown of Saskatoon (Saskatchewan is one of only two Canadian provinces that is currently without a dedicated children’s hospital.).
One of the downsides to electric cars is you can’t tune them…right? Well Chevrolet manages to blow that theory out of the water with Spark EV Tech Performance Concept. Thanks to some tweaks to the motor control computers, this two-tone runabout is now pumping out 450 lb.-ft of torque, which is 50 more than a stock Spark EV and 52 more than a Ferrari 458. Chevrolet Performance also added beefier halfshafts to cope with that extra twisting force.
The Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ twins were tuner favorites before the first one was even sold, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they’re still insanely popular with the aftermarket. And the one that leaves our jaws hanging at this year’s SEMA Show is called the Scion FR-S Style J. It features a redesigned front fascia and matte gray exterior finish, but also a couple of rather slick party pieces: Rather than conventional side view mirrors, the Style J has rear-facing cameras mounted in the Toyobaru’s front fender vent/badge area, and images from the cameras are displayed on LCD screens atop the dashboard. Nifty.
We recently featured a video about custom muscle car builder Steve Strope and his shop, Pure Vision, and this, ladies and germs, is their latest masterpiece. It might look like just another pro touring Gen 2 Camaro at first, but it certainly isn’t under the skin. A twin-turbocharged 427 c.i. Chevy Small Block V8 assembled by Nelson Racing Engines provides 1,200 horsepower, while the heavily Aston Martin influenced interior features acres of rich brown leather and suede and a custom instrument cluster that was machined from a single piece of aluminum and has counter-rotating dials.
Aside from the whole soccermom stigma, one of the biggest marks against minivans (at least as far as gearheads are concerned) is their absence of rip-your-face-off-and-wear-it-as-a-condom performance. Bisimoto has managed to rectify that with this custom Honda Odyssey. Sure, the slammed stance and bitchin’ Fifteen52 wheels are tasty, but not nearly as tasty as the twin Turbonetics turbochargers affixed to the totally-rebuilt 3.5L V6 under the hood. Horsepower? Yeah, it’s got some of those; 1,029 of them, to be exact. Suddenly, being a carpool parent doesn’t sound so dreary…
We’ve always had a thing for the De Tomaso Pantera, and that affection may or not have something to do with the fact that our dad had one many moons ago. In any event, we were quite stoked to hear that the Ringbrothers would be serving up their reinterpretation of this vintage Italian-American supercar. Dubbed ADRNLN, this mustard monster is covered in modern styling cues and clever details in typical Ringbrothers fashion. And instead of the original Ford 351 c.i. Cleveland V8 providing the power, there’s a GM 6.2L LS3 that’s been tuned by Wegner Motorsports to produce 600 horsepower.