Top 10 Cars – SEMA 2013

I still remember my first SEMA show, the scale and scope were unimaginable beforehand.  Last year they claimed more than 135,000 people attend to see the displays from more than 2,250 exhibitors.  To be honest I don’t believe them….. the quantity seems much, much higher.  Then this year I finally found time to attend AAPEX.  OMG!  Another 60,000 people and 2,300 exhibitors.  Here it is 3 days later and my feet are still sore – 4500 booths will do that to you.  To save you the trouble of having to wade through 10,000 pictures I have compiled my list of 10 favorite cars here.


1967 Mercury Cougar Pro Touring

1967 Mercury Cougar Pro Touring

#10 1967 Mercury Cougar 

Those who know me, know that I am a HUGE fan of the whole Restomod and Pro Touring trends.  This is one of the nicest I have seen, and boasts motivation by a 427!  The 427 Wildcat is owned by  Wes Atkin who also owns Wild Wes Paintworks in Dover, OH.

9 DSCN9295

1964 Chevrolet Chevelle 4-door Wagon

#9 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Wagon

In addition to my penchant for Pro Touring cars, I have a soft spot for the unusual which happens to include wagons.  This one was lowered exactly the right amount – probably because it was showing off the dropped spindles by McGaughy’s Suspension.

Foose P-32

Foose P-32

#8 Foose’s P-32

Still cool even after 6 years ….. P32.

DSCN9251DSCN9255DSCN9258#7 1939 Bugatti 57C Vanvooren

What could be more SEMA like than a production car with special bodywork, fully skirted fenders, high horsepower engine and some provanence.  In 2013 that could be a Mustang or a Camaro, but in this case it meant a 1939 Bugatti.  Owned by the Peterson Museum and presented by Meguires, it was a very nice change of pace.

6 DSCN93696 DSCN9368#6 1958 Chevrolet Bel Aire Nomad Wagon

While not technically at the SEMA show (it was parked in the dirt lot at the Global Rallecross Final) the second wagon to make the list featured an awesome patina.  This means I have no idea who owns it.  But if the owner ever decides to paint it, I say we find him and kick his butt.

5 DSCN92905 DSCN92895 DSCN9287#5 1969 Plymouth Valiant Signet

This Valiant is named Pissed Off, but it looks more like a sleeper than sinister.  While the paint looks worn, the amount of thought, engineering, and effort that was put into it leads me to believe even the patina was purposely added.  I am especially fond of the perfectly-sized lip spoiler. There are a ton more pictures here.

4 DSCN9226#4 1974 Nissan Skyline 2000 GTX

If you search for Skyline GTR and SEMA you will get a ton of returns for the new model.  Which means you might miss this extremely nice vintage 2000 GTX with GTR mods which features flares and exactly the correct proportion and stance.  Read more about it here.

3 DSCN9169 3 DSCN9170#3 1951 Ford Shoebox

Another vehicle made our list that was here before was TJ Lavin’s 1951 Ford Shoebox.  Debuting in 2012, this slammed sled featured a full military theme including aluminum panels and rivets.  Lucious.

2 DSCN9497 2 DSCN9499 2 DSCN9500#2 1950 Studebaker Woody

Picking our favorite was very difficult this year as two cars captured the attention of my staff and the web in general.  A woody that is not a station wagon, WOOT! Built by Hills Rod and Custom, this bullet-nosed fastback has one of the most beautiful rear ends ever.  This 1950 Studebaker is also a mishmash of other brands as it is powered by an Edsel engine and Ford Headlights.

1 DSCN9240 1 DSCN9241#1 1982 Volkswagen Golf Time Attack

In the end, deciding our favorite car came down to a battle between the beautiful (the Studebaker) and the unexpected (this car).  The Forge Motorsport Golf ended up as favorite just because in a sea of hotrods, a 1982 Volkswagen Golf with over 400 horsepower is awesome.  Add the fact that it is functional and will be entered in Time Attack and Hillclimb events and it wins the tie-breaker.

Come back tomorrow to see some top trucks, new products and a couple of “What not to do” vehicles.

About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of and Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, partner in The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment and serial entrepeneur. A long time automotive enthusiast, Frank started reading car magazines at the age of 8 and has spent 30+ years working inside the automotive industry. In his spare time Frank races with the Sports Car Club of America, spends time working on his numerous project cars and supports many local charities.
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