SEMA Show 2002

 

Text and Photos by John Lee

 

After having had so much fun at the 2001 SEMA Show, Ho and I went back again this year for more fun and to check out what's going on in the automotive aftermarket world.

 

Paris Hotel

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Ho and I both like staying at the Paris Hotel and the Bellagio Hotel, so we usually stay at whichever hotel has a vacancy. We ended up staying at Paris again this year. Besides, I just love to snap photos of Ho's Discovery in front of the fake Arc de Triumph, Place de la Concorde, and Eiffel Tower.

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Here are some views from the 29th floor of the Paris Hotel. Our room had a nice view of the Stratosphere Hotel.

 

The Turtle Expedition

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The Turtle Expedition displayed its fifth-generation vehicle. Conspicuously displayed on the new vehicle were the diesel and water Wedco Jerrycans.

 

Bridgestone

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Bridgestone's relationship to Ferrari has become very close with the recent success of Ferrari's F1 racing team. Ferrari's recent F1 success and World Championships have been due in no small part to Bridgestone's efforts. On display in Bridgestone's booth was one of Michael Schumacher's F1 cars.

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The steering wheel on the Ferrari F1 car is a study in itself. All of the vehicle controls are contained on this steering wheel, and permit Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello to control all of their cars' settings without taking their hands off the steering wheel.

There are LED displays to give crucial information to the driver. The two small LED displays on the top of the wheel display RPM's and time, respectively. The large LED display above the Ferrari logo displays the gear selection, water and oil temperatures, vehicle speed, lap times, and actual time.

Buttons abound on this steering wheel. The two white buttons on the top of the steering wheel control the front/rear braking balance during qualifying. The blue button marked "S" selects neutral on the gearbox for pitting. The red button marked "L" is a rev limiter for the pit lane, as speed limits in the pit lane are strictly enforced by FIA. The red button marked "U" operates the differential lock. The amber button marked "RADIO" is to permit communication with the pit team. The blue button on the bottom right of the steering wheel turns off the engine.

Though hardly visible in the photo, there are two gray paddles behind the steering wheel. Depressing the paddles will upshift or downshift the gearbox, with the left lever being depressed to downshift and the right lever being depressed to upshift. The paddle shifters and semiautomatic gearbox were Ferrari innovations from the days when Nigel Mansell and Gerhard Berger were driving for Ferrari. At its inception, the system was unreliable but has since become the standard for all F1 cars. No F1 car today uses the traditional stick shifter.

The steering wheel also features several dials to enable Schumacher to control his vehicle settings. The green dial adjusts the brake balance between the front and rear brakes to suit different track conditions and brake wear during the race. The blue dial controls the fuel/air mixture. The red/green dial in the center of the wheel controls the intensity of the power steering. The yellow and red dials control engine braking. The multicolored dial at the bottom is used to control the clutch when the clutch is failing or has failed.

All of this sophisticated technology is housed in a carbon fiber steering that is instantly detachable to permit Schumacher and Barrichello easily to exit a burning vehicle. The top of the steering wheel is flat so as not to obscure the driver's vision. The entire steering wheel also weighs less than two kilograms, the weight limit set by FIA. Technology at this level is literally amazing.

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Bridgestone also displayed the new "Enzo Ferrari", Ferrari's latest supercar.

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The Enzo has obviously taken several styling and technology features from Ferrari's F1 car, especially on the steering wheel. There are carbon fiber accents on the steering wheel to mimic the carbon fiber construction of the F1 car's steering wheel. Paddle shifters and colored buttons finish the look. The Enzo does not have a differential lock like the F1 car, but the steering wheel is impressive nonetheless.

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The Enzo's engine compartment is every bit as impressive as the car's exterior and interior. The rear shocks are especially noteworthy. Not only do the Enzo's shocks feature reservoirs, but the reservoirs are covered with cooling fins.

 

Optima Batteries

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Optima Batteries displayed several of its batteries, including some new battery designs.

 

Powertrax

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Powertrax displayed its familiar Lock-Rite differential. On the left, the unit is locked. On the right, the unit is unlocked and permits differentiation between the two rear wheels.

 

Sway-A-Way

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Sway-A-Way displayed its line of racing shock absorbers. The Sway-A-Way line is extensive and features everything from automobile shocks to the largest racing shocks for monster trucks.

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Get real Ho. You'll never be able to fit that thing to your Discovery.

 

Tractech

Tractech's display was the usual extensive display of its line of traction differentials. Tractech's display is very appealing because it permits one to play with the differentials and see and feel firsthand exactly how the different designs operate.

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Tractech's most famous differential is its Detroit Locker. The middle photo shows the Detroit locked. Turning one of the display's tires forward and the other backward unlocks the Detroit and permits differentiation in turns. Contrary to popular belief, the normal operating mode for the Detroit is to be locked, and the unit unlocks only in turns.

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Tractech's E-Z Locker operates on a similar principle to that of the Detroit, but is designed as an economy version of the Detroit. With the E-Z Locker, the user replaces only the internals of his factory differential and retains the carrier. The E-Z Locker is then inserted into the retained differential carrier and the cost is thereby reduced. The disadvantage to this design is that the relatively weak open differential carrier is retained. The solid carrier of the Detroit Locker has no such holes and is thus substantially stronger.

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Here is a close-up of the Truetrac Limited-Slip Differential. This unit permits differentiation but presses the pinion gears into the carrier walls to limit the amount of slip to one particular wheel. Unlike clutch-operated units, this unit does not wear out and does not require special fluids for proper operation. The Truetrac is a very effective and elegant design.

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Tractech's Gearless Locker is a clutch-operated design, but it is a true locking differential and not a limited-slip design. As drive is transmitted to the differential, the steel clutch plates tighten against each other and lock the unit into a spool. The unit is unlocked in a similar to the Detroit when one wheels turns one way and the other wheel turns the other way, and when unlocked the unit permits free differentiation between the wheels.

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Tractech unveiled its new line of ATV differentials. A quad with a Gearless Locker will be very capable on the trail.

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Tractech's newest differential is the Electrac, which is basically a lockable Truetrac. When unlocked, the unit operates as a Truetrac limited-slip differential. When locked, the unit operates as a spool. Actuation is by electric motor and is controlled by a switch inside the vehicle. Unfortunately, there is currently no Electrac available for Land Rover applications.

 

Currie Enterprises

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Currie Enterprises displayed its limited-edition TJ as part of the Tractech display.

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The Currie TJ featured some interesting items, such as the high-clearance Dana 60 rear axle, and high-pinion front axle.

 

Edelbrock

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Edelbrock showed off its new line of reservoir shock absorbers. Edelbrock described this new line as "XTreme Travel Remove Reservoir Shock Absorbers", which Ho found to be very funny. These are probably fine shocks, but one would think Edelbrock could find a name other than "XTreme". The least they could do is spell the word correctly.

 

Eaton Automotive

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Eaton Automotive displayed its new Electronic ELocker. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed with this differential, as it displays many of the weaknesses of the factory Land Rover differential. For example, the carrier is not a "solid" design and features two large holes. This differs from the solid carrier designs on the ARB Air Locker and the Detroit Locker. Also, the differential is a two-pinion design and not a four-pinion design. A differential with a solid carrier, two cross pins, and four pinion gears would be substantially stronger. Time will tell if the new ELocker is strong enough.

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Eaton also displayed its Posi Limited Slip Differential, a clutch operated limited slip. Unlike gear-operated designs like the Truetrac, the clutch operated limited slips require special fluids and decrease in effectiveness as the clutch plates wear out over time. As such, designs like this are decidedly inferior to limited-slip designs like the Truetrac. I think Eaton has to go back to the drawing board for both of these differential designs.

 

Land Rover

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There was but one official Land Rover on display at this year's show: the G4 Freelander. This vehicle will be used in Land Rover's upcoming G4 Challenge.

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Ho checks out the Freelander's roof rack, which is made by Safety Devices. Freelander owners should look forward to this rack, which like all Safety Devices products, is excellent.

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The roof rack holds a canoe. By all present indications, the G4 Challenge is going to combine other adventure sports with offroading. Time will tell if the G4 challenge will even be about offroading.

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I hope this rear ladder was a joke or something on the part of Land Rover. This thing is hideous.

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The G4 Freelander is fitted with what appears to be a Mantec snorkel.

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A very small Warn winch is fitted to the front. I wouldn't be surprised if this winch was intended for ATV's. The G4 Freelander needs and deserves a real winch.

 

Ford

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Ford displayed a reproduction GT40. This car looks almost identical to the real GT40, but was thoroughly modernized and built with modern components.

 

Bloomfield Manufacturing

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Bloomfield Manufacturing's display was more impressive than ever as its line of Hi-Lift Jacks becomes more and more refined. Last year, Bloomfield switched from the old oxblood color on its all-cast jacks to a bright red powdercoated finish. This year, all of the jacks were fitted with yellow zinc-plated climbing pins and other hardware for maximum corrosion resistance. Even the Fix-It Kits' components are now all yellow zinc plated.

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Newest in the line of products from Bloomfield Manufacturing is a choker chain that permits the user to keep tension on the choker chain when hand winching. This eliminates having to re-rig the chain and jack when reaching the limits of the jack's main beam during hand winching operations. This product will be available from Bloomfield Manufacturing shortly.

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Bloomfield Manufacturing also displayed some interesting new Hi-Lift Jack designs.

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There were several other Land Rover vendors at the SEMA Show. We met up with Steve Cooper of Land Rover Stuff and Bill Davis from Great Basin Rovers.

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We also met up with John Hong of Land Rover Monthly.

 

Warn

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Warn's line of winches and winching accessories grows ever larger. Warn's display was larger than all of the other winch companies' displays combined. Still, Warn does not make a worm-driven winch like the Superwinch Husky 10.

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Warn also displayed its new 9.5ti Thermometric Winch. This winch appears to be an HS9500 with some additional features. The winch purportedly has much better sealing against the elements than previous Warn offerings, including a shield for the motor wiring. A notable feature of the 9.5ti is a motor-mounted thermal sensor that relays temperature information to the winch remote. This way, the operator can tell if he is about to smoke his winch. This is a handy feature, but I would still prefer a worm-driven winch.

 

Fourwheeler Magazine

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This Nissan Xterra was part of Fourwheeler's display of several trucks. The EE oval sticker was on this vehicle because we installed the TJM snorkel on this Xterra for Fourwheeler.

 

Scosche Industries

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Scosche displayed its line of micro batteries and other electronics items.

 

Ramsey Winch

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Ramsey Winch displayed its line of planetary winches. Strangely, the Ramsey's line of RE worm-driven winches was not even displayed.

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The battle of the remote controls continues, as Ramsey displayed its new wireless remote. This unit purportedly permits the user to control his winch from any distance up to 50 feet from the winch. I've always wanted a winch with its own antenna.

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Ramsey Winches announced its new partnership with TJM USA and displayed the TJM T15 Bull Bar. The two companies will co-develop future products for the offroad market.

 

Rancho Shocks

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Rancho displayed its new reservoir shock. I wonder if this shock is truly gas charged or if it still uses "cellular gas" (whatever that is).

 

Milemarker

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Milemarker displayed its line of hydraulic winches.

 

ARB

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ARB USA's large display included a modified Toyota Tacoma. I have never been able to figure why the ARB Winch Bars look so much better for the Toyota line than for the Land Rover line. This truck was also fitted with Old Man Emu Springs & Shocks and a Safari Snorkel, both of which are imported by ARB USA.

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The Tacoma was also fitted with ARB Air Lockers.

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The ARB display also showed the operation of the Air Locker and permitted the view to engage and disengage the locking mechanism on the differential by pressing the "Magic Button".

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ARB also displayed its new Sahara Bar, an airbag compatible bumper with a chromed A-bar in the center.

 

Oasis Off Road

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Oasis Off Road displayed its Trailhead Air Compressor. This unit is a York air compressor fitted with a winch motor. This unit puts out a tremendous amount of air for such a small compressor. Powering a 1/2" impact wrench, even without an air tank, is easy work for this compressor.

 

BF Goodrich

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BF Goodrich displayed its extensive line of on-road and offroad tires. Of particular interest is the new Krawler, BFG's latest offroad tire.

 

Engel

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Engel USA displayed its extensive line of Engel Freezer Fridges, Transit Slide Locks, and Transit Bags.

 

TJM

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TJM USA showed off its extensive line of Bull Bars and Rear Bars.

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It was nice to meet Mark McKeever, the head of TJM USA. One of the best things about the SEMA show is the opportunity to meet people one has been doing business with via telephone, fax, or e-mail.

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TJM USA is the exclusive importer of Staun Tire Deflators. The TJM display included demonstration models of how the Staun Tire Deflators operate.

 

Bilstein

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Bilstein's display included its Engine Flush and Coolant Flush machines in operation.

 

Jeep

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Jeep had several displays in the show, but most interesting was probably its line-up of reproductions of service Jeeps. These vehicles are not true service vehicles but are interesting nonetheless.

 

Safety Seal

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Safety Seal's display included its new ATV repair kit, which contains small capsules of CO2 for airing up an ATV tire after a repair. This kit is a very nice addition to the line of Safety Seal Tire Repair Kits.

 

Manik Motors

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Manik's booth included this pimped out Hummer H2. Surprisingly, this H2 was fitted with a winch. What a waste of a perfectly good Husky.

 

Fabtech

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Fabtech's display contained several Jeeps and race trucks fitted with Fabtech suspension pieces.

 

VIAIR

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VIAIR displayed its extensive line of portable air compressors.

 

Miscellaneous

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The Hummer H2 was by far the most common base used for the various show trucks at the show.

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Ho and Steve check out a pimped out Range Rover. This Rangie's wheels now protrude from the sides of the vehicle in true ghetto fashion. What a waste of a perfectly good Range Rover. The Range Rover is a very beautiful and elegant machine, so why do some owners insist upon ghettofying it? This vehicle reminds of those 1980's stock brokers who thought it was cool to wear sneakers with their business suits.

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Beautiful cars attract beautiful women, and SEMA always has plenty of beautiful women on hand.

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Ho had some fun at the SEMA Show.

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Some vendors will stop at nothing to attract attention to their displays. This rim company's booth was mobbed with onlookers, for good reason.

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One sees all sorts of things at the SEMA Show. This Freelander was fitted with everything, including fake leather straps to "secure" the spare wheel.

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A section of the show was devoted to products from the Republic of South Africa. Of particular interest was this trailer, which is fitted with all of the amenities.

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For those of you who long to fit a fake European license plate to your vehicle, there are companies out there who make such things.

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4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine had a very nice TJ on display. Unlike most of the display vehicles at the SEMA Show, this one looks as if it was built by someone who actually goes off road.

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The DeLorean from Back To The Future was on display.

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One of the dozens of H2 show vehicles on display had some heavy-duty recovery hooks mounted.

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Like many other vendors, Sport Rack used the H2 as its display vehicle.

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This monster truck had an interesting tow ball fitted.

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Even pimped out trucks sometimes display a touch of good taste. This Ford truck is fitted with Michelin XZL's. Even the flame job on the wings can't ruin these beautiful and very effective tires.

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Bill Davis checks out a special Ford school bus. Wanna be cool? STAY IN SCHOOL!

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This Helldorado Edition TJ by Currie Enterprises is very handsome. It is obviously well set up and it doesn't look stupidly overdone. If only Jeep or Land Rover produced such vehicles....

 

 

SEMA Show 2001
SEMA Show 2003
SEMA Show 2004
SEMA Show 2005