2009 SEMA Show - Still Standing
The Sema Show Proves Our Hobby Is Still Thriving
From the March, 2010 issue of Modified Mustangs & Fords
By Mark Houlahan
Photography by Mark Houlahan
The Las Vegas convention center,...
The Las Vegas convention center, while not filled to capacity, still had many exciting new manufacturers and products for us to drool over. Check out the '69 Mustang on display-more on that later.
There's no doubt that the economy has seen better days. With double-digit unemployment in many areas of the country, gas prices going up and down like the proverbial see-saw, and many wondering where their 401K has gone too, it's sometimes hard to be upbeat about a hobby-any hobby really. Hobbies cost money, that's the stark white truth, and be it a case of paint for those that play paintball, a box of ammo for the shooting range, or a tank of gas to hit the local cruise night, whatever their hobbies are, you can bet that people across the U.S. are doing them less frequently or are looking for ways to enjoy them more efficiently.
The same holds true for us gearheads. I used to not think twice about running up to Sears and buying that special tool I probably would use just that one time. Now I try to borrow said tool, or at the worst, rent it. I've heard of several others that have backed off of their project car plans, extending their project timeline to spread out the costs. This may sound depressing, but I feel spreading the cost out and taking longer is better than the alternative-selling your dream project and it never seeing the light of day through your hands.
So yes, things are tough right now for a lot of people, but when we hit the 2009 SEMA show recently, we were surprised to see a thriving industry based off of our growing car hobby. Was the show "down" a bit? Sure it was. We noticed a few spots where booths had been prior and fewer show cars outside the Las Vegas convention center halls, but overall the show aisles were packed with people-buyers, shop owners, car builders, and more. Everyone we talked to said their business was improving ever so slightly from earlier in 2009.
We're optimistic that we'll be seeing more growth in 2010, and that simply means more people in our hobby, more parts being created, and more of us building and finishing those dream cars we've always wanted. So hang in there. Relief is coming, and in the meantime, check out these great new parts we eyeballed at the SEMA show that could be used in your project plans.
Check out plenty more great parts and cars from the SEMA show on our website!
Double A-Arm Front...
Double A-Arm Front Suspension
A product of its late-model Mustang racing suspension, Agent47 [www.agentfortyseven.com; (760) 496-3809] had this uber-trick double A-arm coilover setup on display in its booth. Known for its late-model racing and styling upgrades, Agent47 is embarking on a classic Mustang product line for track duty or high-performance street applications, including production of rolling chassis based off of the '69 Dynacorn Mustang reproduction body shell.
'65-'66 Mustang Wiring Harness
American Autowire [www.americanautowire.com; (800) 482-WIRE] has been in the replacement wiring business for over 25 years. They entered the Ford market last year with its Classic Update wiring harness line for '67-'68 Mustangs and this year they added to its Ford product line with another Classic Update harness for '65-'66 Mustangs. Featuring upgraded wiring, ATO blade fuses, extra circuits for modern upgrades, and most importantly, molded connectors for major wiring connections like the headlight switch and ignition switch, the Classic Update line is a great way to rewire your classic Mustang. AAW also released a great classic looking Highway 15 Nostalgia wiring harness with "braid and lacquer" wire (shown here), perfect for period custom builds of the '50s.
Shelby Grabber Valve Covers
When it comes to topping off that fresh small-block, valve covers are like engine jewelry-earrings if you will. Just like the perfect pair of earrings enhances a woman's face, the right valve covers make an engine. We spotted these Grabber Blue Shelby covers from Ansen Enterprises [www.ansenusa.com; (310) 534-1837] and had to stop to take a better look. Ansen has been building valve covers and other engine accessories right here in the U.S. for the last 40 years (Ford Racing uses them too). You can find these covers at www.shelbyengines.com and other Shelby valve cover styles on Ansen's website.
'65-'68 Mustang Aluminum Heater Core
Scott Drake [www.scottdrake.net; (800) 999-0289] is a name known to tens of thousands of Mustang enthusiasts. What is probably not known is that many of the products you find in that recognizable red packaging are actually prototyped and built by Drake themselves. Drake brought several new products to the SEMA show, and these three really intrigued us. The small-block silicone hoses are akin to the hoses many late-model Mustang owners use for increased bursting strength, longer hose life, and simple great looks. The big-block water neck was a previously unavailable part, and we all know what 40-year-old aluminum water necks look like. Lastly, we were very happy to see an aluminum version of the original copper/brass heater core for the millions of '65-'68 Mustangs still on the road (ours included). The aluminum has greater thermal efficiency and longer product life than the original copper/brass setup-something to consider if you're going to replace your heater core soon.
Cruiser Series Gauges
New from Auto Meter [www.autometer.com; (866) 248-6356] is its full line of Cruiser series electric gauges. Featuring a nostalgic style with modern internals (their accuracy is race proven in NASCAR), the Cruiser series is available in 2 1/16-inch sizes with electronic programmable speedometer and tachometer in 3 3/8-inch size. Modern through-dial lighting and lit pointers make them easy to read at night too.
Pro Touring Wheel Series
We've seen some great-looking wheels from Billet Specialties [www.billetspecialties.com; (800) 245-5382] on numerous classic Mustangs, but now the wheel designers at Billet Specialties have come out with a new series of Pro Touring wheels, with enhanced brake clearance specs to clear the larger brakes many Pro Touring type cars use, and that includes us classic Mustang builders. Currently the Pro Touring series has four designs, all featuring a smooth lip with a combination of brushed and polished surfaces, in sizes from 18 to 24 inches in diameter.
Bob Drake Reproductions
Bob Drake Reproductions
Universal In-Tank Pump Bracket
Bob Drake Reproductions [www.bobdrake.com; (800) 221-FORD] is known for its exacting reproduction parts for '30s to '50s Ford cars and trucks. One of its latest items that Bob Drake has released is this universal in-tank fuel-pump mounting solution. Made of stainless steel, the unit is adjustable for tank depth, and features large inlet and outlet ports for large-diameter fuel lines (hard-line or braided AN style), a tank vent tube, and electrical connections for an owner-supplied fuel pump. It's a great low-buck way to get that EFI fuel pump in the tank for cooler and quieter running.
'65-'70 Mustang Power Steering Conversion
We had already been reading up on Borgeson's [www.borgeson.com; (86) 482-8283] new integral power-steering gear box when we stopped to see what's new with the folks at Borgeson. We were happy to hear that most likely by the time you read this, Borgeson will have complete conversion kits (pump, hoses, brackets, shaft, and gear box) for the most popular classic Mustang applications, including inline-six engine fitments. Stay tuned as we hope to bring you more on this new product in the future.
B-Rod Or Custom
B-Rod Or Custom
Mustang Full-Frame Conversion
While chatting with Chris Alston of Total Control Products/Chassis Works we couldn't help but notice the in-progress Mustang fastback occupying a good portion of the TCP both space. When we inquired if it was a new TCP suspension product, Chris informed us that a customer, B-Rod or Custom [www.b-rodorcustom.com; (865) 687-8828] had designed its own replacement full-frame system for the Mustang, which utilized various TCP and Chassis Works products. We never got to talk to anyone at B-Rod, but if you'd like to know more about it, give them a call or email (through its website).
Custom(Er) Designed Steering Wheels
Trust us when we say there's a lot of steering wheels on display at the SEMA show from several manufacturers, but what intrigued us enough to stop at CON2R [www.con2r.com; (503) 626-6390] was the fact that these steering wheels are custom designed by you for your ride. The CON2R steering wheel is available in two-, three-, and four-spoke patterns (six total), three wheel offsets, eight wheel colors, nine spoke colors, and 10 different spoke trim choices, for over 250,000 wheel combinations. Simply fill out the order form, or better yet, use the interactive wheel configurator on the company's website, and see your custom wheel come to life right in front of you. Soon CON2R will be offering leather wrapping and other options too.
Drake Automotive Group
Drake Automotive Group
'65-'68 289 Silicone Hoses
'68-'70 Mustang Big-Block...
'68-'70 Mustang Big-Block Water Neck
We've seen automotive-themed furniture before, and we've even seen racing seats used as desk chairs, but we've never seen anyone go to the detail of building a true automotive inspired desk chair like the Grand Prix shown here from Intro-Tech Automotive [www.intro-techautomotive.com; (866) 319-8500]. Besides the traditional racing seat design, the chair has such features as a coilover shock for seat-height adjustments; a disc brake assembly as the mounting base for the legs, which themselves feature miniature racing wheels; and a gear-shift knob for position adjustment. Intro-Tech also has a Formula 1 desk chair and an automotive-themed desk as well.
Wraptivo Custom Car Wraps
We got an invite to stop by Wraptivo [www.wraptivo.com], a new company under the Meguiars umbrella, and as we walked up noticed a new Mustang being wrapped with a custom flame job. You might have seen custom vehicle wraps at events before and wondered about them. Well, now Meguiars, a household name in automotive surface care, is launching Wraptivo, a vehicle wrap you customize online using colors, graphics, and even images and content you can upload yourself, and then a certified installer wraps your car. It's a heck of a lot cheaper than custom paint, and can be removed any time. Right now classic Mustangs and Fords aren't in the database, but the Meguiars folks are adding new cars every week, plus you can also get custom partial wraps as well (stripes, flames, graphics) that will work on any car.
We've been big fans of these little digital wonders from GoPro [www.gopro.com; (415) 738-2480] since its original camera debuted just over two years ago. We've used them on project cars, at events, and more to create video for our website. Now GoPro offers an HD version that has many improvements, including a new 170-degree, ultra-wide-angle lens, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and up to 32 gb of storage (that's eight hours of video at a 720p setting) via a removable SD memory card. For on-track events, parades, cruises, or even to mount on your mountain bike during vacation, the GoPro camera is great fun and a great driving tool. We can't wait to get our hands on the HD version and start posting more videos!
Universal Bluetooth Adapter
We're big fans of Scosche [www.scosche.com; (800) 363-4490] products around here; using its in-dash installation kits for stereo upgrades, wiring kits for amps, and more over the years. The Bluetooth revolution is changing every day, and just about everyone reading this magazine probably has a Bluetooth phone, MP3 player, or GPS device. I bet your daily driver has Bluetooth available too. Well, now when you take that weekend ride in your classic Mustang or Ford, you can keep both hands on the wheel and keep using that great Bluetooth functionality you are accustomed to with the new BT1000 handsfree kit. This simple unit mounts under your dash, then place the small three-button controller wherever you like, mount the microphone in a convenient location, and pair it with your phone via voice prompts. That's it. Safer driving awaits you.
Specialty Wheels Ltd.
Specialty Wheels Ltd.
New Steel Wheel Program
The folks at Specialty Wheels [www.specialtywheelsltd.org; (503) 491-8848] have been building classic muscle car rims for over 20 years. At the SEMA show this year, it debuted its new line of made-in-the-USA, all-steel wheels, including the classic Thunderbird spoke wheel shown here. Sizes range from stock to more modern 17-inch versions of your popular Mustang and classic Ford wheels, like the Magnum 500 and more.
Pyramid Display Stands
Race Ramps [www.raceramps.com; (866) 464-2788] has been making non-marking, use-anywhere ramps for light service use, vehicle storage, and trailer loading for several years now. The company is constantly on the lookout for new ideas to utilize its product's technology, and now offers these display stands for static vehicle displays at indoor or outdoor shows. Available in a slim-profile or a pyramid style (shown here) and even offered in custom heights (if you want to display the vehicle on a rake or angle for example), a set of four display stands will support 6,000 pounds and make you the talk of the show. Be sure to see the copany's full product line online for your garage or car trailer.
Stainless Steel Brakes Corp...
Stainless Steel Brakes Corp
Tmax Transmission Thermostat
We're used to stopping by Stainless Steel Brakes [www.ssbrakes.com; (800) 448-7722] and chatting about the company's latest brake hardware. So we were a bit surprised when SSBC's principal, Michael Jonas, walked us over to a display and started talking about transmissions! SSBC's new TMAX transmission thermostat is an easy to install temperature regulator that keeps the transmission operating in its prime temperature range for better fuel economy and longer life. A future model will even have a heating element in it to get the trans fluid up to temp before driving/racing, perfect for those that drag race with an automatic.
New Tu-Tone Pony Door Panel
When it comes to custom-looking direct-replacement interior parts for classic Mustangs, TMI Products [www.mustangupholstery.com; (800) 624-7960] has been the undisputed leader. From great-looking carbon-fiber and brushed-aluminum accents to its sport seat upholstery and foam kits, TMI has some great products to personalize your restomod Mustang. TMI's Dean Satterfield proudly showed us its latest, a new tu-tone '65-'66 Deluxe "Pony" interior door panel. Previously the Pony panel was available in one color only, but new heat sealing technology and vinyl products allow the "cove" to be covered in a complementary or contrasting color.
The Classic Fords Of Sema...
The Classic Fords Of Sema
The Ring Brothers' Fairlane
Up until now the Ring brothers have performed their special kind of magic mostly on Mustangs (including a late-model) and a Camaro or two. Now they've branched out into other classic Fords with the build of the Afterburner Fairlane, which debuted at the BASF paint booth at the SEMA show this year. It started life as a '64 Fairlane, but has taken on a whole new look under Mike and Jim Ring.
The Club Personal Vault
Many of you no doubt have heard of The Club. You know-that big steel stick that slides through your steering wheel to prevent car theft? Well the company that makes The Club, Winner International [www.theclub.com; (800) 527-3345] now offers this personal vehicle security vault that easily attaches to your seat frame or track to secure your valuables. It's a great idea for classic Fords that do not have a locking glovebox, convertibles and roadsters, or any other vehicle that is not easily secured.
Magentic/Decal Tool Box Labels
OK, so these might not fall under the greatest performance parts of the year category, but when we spotted these tool box labels from Z-Calz [www.zcalz.com; (909) 225-2868] we certainly could relate and wanted to share them with our readers. How many times have you walked up to your toolbox and opened the wrong drawer when looking for something? Sure, you know where you put your own tools, but we still grab the wrong drawer right? Or how about when someone is in the garage helping you and you ask them to grab a screwdriver? Now they can easily see where the tools are located and not perform the tool drawer shuffle while you wait. They're available as magnets for those that like to reorganize their boxes all the time, and decals for those without commitment phobias.