We came, we saw and our feet and knees are still killing us after walking the miles of aisles trying to figure out the best dirt to relay to you. It’s not easy.

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show is a meeting of buyers and sellers of aftermarket auto parts and accessories from around the globe. Together, they determine what you’ll find on store shelves until the next SEMA show arrives in November of 2012 to begin the process all over again.

Everything automotive is on the table, from shiny trim parts and running boards to reproduction 1965 Mustang bodies and diamond-studded wheels worth a quarter-million each.

Just the brand new parts alone number about 2,000 and what better way to show those parts than to have hundreds of show vehicles wearing them.


Members of the press get to crash this party, which takes place in and around the 3.2-million-square-foot Las Vegas convention Center, while the public is left to wonder what the fuss is all about.

Well, this is what the fuss is all about.

Hottest trends

Larger (up to 30 inches in diameter, in some cases) and fancier wheels continue to dominate SEMA. Black-finished wheels remain popular, but chrome and polished aluminum pieces remain in vogue.

Also taking root are matte-finish paint schemes that lack any gloss.

Mercedes-Benz, BMW and other high-end vehicles even charge extra for this primer-paint effect.

Related to this movement are hot rods and older collector cars that have been deliberately left in their natural “barn find” patina, instead of being restored to better-than-new condition. The automotive coatings industry can’t be all that crazy about this movement and is likely hoping it never really catches on.

But perhaps the most significant trend of all is the growth in retro-styled bodies. You can now build fairly exact replicas of first-generation Mustang and Camaros, along with 1955-’57 Chevrolets and 1940s-era Ford and Lincoln coupes.

One company even makes a very cool reproduction of a Corvette Nomad concept that was the hit of General Motors’ 1954 Motorama show.

Most popular vehicles

SEMA’s organizers presented awards to the Fiat 500, Ford F-150 pickup, Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet Camaro as “Hottest” in their respective classes, but the Camaro is our official real star of the show. Both coupes and convertibles proved highly popular as demonstration platforms (where did the Mustangs go this year?) for a wide variety of new-product add-ons, while the Jeep Wrangler remained popular as a truck/sport ute product canvass.

Honourable mentions go to the Nissan GT-R, plus assorted Porsches, Ferraris and Lamborghinis that always provide excellent eye candy for numerous accessory manufacturers.

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