2009 SEMA Auto Show
In Spite Of All The Camaros, Ford Led The Way At The 2009 Sema Show
THREE THINGS WERE OBVIOUS during last November's SEMA Show in Las Vegas. First, there was no way to miss the curtain barriers and hastily set-up gangs of tables and chairs that tried to hide the wide-open spaces in the Las Vegas Convention Center. We may be slowly recovering from a recession, but it was painfully obvious that many automotive aftermarket companies don't feel healthy enough to invest in a tradeshow display. Three years ago, the SEMA Show was bursting at the Convention Center seams, with displays spilling out into parking lot tents. Not so this year.
Second, new Camaros were everywhere. For at least the past ten years, Mustangs have dominated the SEMA Show, with mild to wild versions attracting attention in booths and as stand-alone feature cars in the indoor and outdoor display areas. That domination was "challenged" last year with the introduction of Dodge's new Challenger, which was joined at the 2009 show by a swarm of new Camaros in various states of aftermarket dress. As the guys at Ford Racing say, "Bring 'em on!"
And third, Ford Motor Company made a loud and clear statement with its large and exciting display at the top level of the main convention hall floor. While the GM and Chrysler displays were very static and quiet in comparison, the Ford booth, bathed in blue light, featured a huge screen with recorded videos interspersed with live hosts who showcased the various display vehicles and interviewed celebrities and attendees, both inside and outside the convention center. In the middle of all the Mustangs, wild trucks, turbocharged Fusions, and politically-correct hybrid technology, a Dynacorn '69 Mustang fastback body was built into an outlandishly green restomod, thanks to the efforts of companies involved with Ford's licensing division. Ford didn't take the bailout, and they flaunted it to everyone with their SEMA display.
In the Restoration/Hot Rod area, we visited with a number of companies that offer vintage Mustang parts, including Scott Drake Reproductions, Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation, ididit, Mustang Project, Dynacorn, Baer Brakes, Specialty Wheel, and Total Control Products. As usual, while roaming the aisles we ran into friends from the Mustang parts industry, like Ron Bramlett and Bill Faull from Mustangs Plus; Rick Schmidt and Scott Halseth from National Parts Depot; Jason Childress, Lonnie Childress, and Brian Baker from Gateway Classic Mustang; and Creed Stammel from CJ Pony Parts.
On Tuesday evening, Shelby Automobiles hosted a press conference at Las Vegas Speedway to introduce a new post-title Shelby Turbo Mustang and F150 Super Snake pickup. Although 86-year-old Carroll Shelby was under doctor's orders to stay away from the SEMA Show crowds due to the flu epidemic, he didn't miss the revealing of his two newest vehicles and spent the evening greeting and welcoming everyone.
Finally, there was good news on the economic front. Despite the contraction in displays, the aisles were packed with attendees. Most of the displaying companies we talked with reported brisk business activity and a promise of better things to come in 2010.