Once in year, for one week in late October and/or early November, the annual SEMA show trans-forms Las Vegas into the automotive aftermarket capitol of the universe. The major automobile manufacturers roll out fleets of concept and custom cars, and the vast majority of players in the aftermarket, from huge conglomerates to barely-bigger-than-garage operations, are on hand displaying their wares for the industry.
The array of products ranges from restoration parts to the latest ultra-high-performance tires and custom wheels, from carbon fiber and faux wood dash dress-up kits to hard-core racing-only components, and just about everything imaginable in between. The 2000 show, held November 1-5, was by far the biggest one yet. The entire Las Vegas Convention Center was jam-packed, with some of the overflow filling three commodious, temporary, glorified tent structures in the parking lots as well as the Sands Convention Center. It definitely helps to have comfortable walking shoes, and you can figure on it taking at least one very full day just to scan the hundreds of displays.
The SEMA Show tends to reflect trends in the marketplace. When I first attended the show in the early '90s, late-model, 5.0L Mustangs were all the rage, and modified, tricked-out examples were as common as fleas on a mutt-it seemed as though every time you'd turn around you'd stumble into a couple more of the things. This year's 35th annual spectacle was overloaded with SUVs of every persuasion, and ricers (you know, those ubiquitous pavement-scraping front-wheel-drive coupes and sedans-mostly imported-with sewer-pipe exhausts, gaudy graphics, and massively oversized wheels with rubberband tires). The hot tickets at the '00 show seemed to be pimped-up PT Cruisers and Ford Focuses (which should be renamed Fungus-they're just as disgusting looking), and Titanic-proportioned SUVs like Ford's Excursion that were jacked up high enough that an average size adult male could walk under without ducking.
Even General Motors got into the act. The huge GM exhibit featured hoards of modified Cavaliers and Sunfires, a plethora of pickups and SUVs, a handful of Camaros and Firebirds, and one (!) Corvette-the #4 C5-R (straight from the prior weekend's American Le Mans Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway) for the first couple of days and a stock Z06 for the rest of the show. Oh well!
While the ricers and SUVs were predominate, there were enough new Corvette-related parts and accessories-plus a few wild Vettes-to make things interesting. So, without further ado or editorial whining, here's a look at what's new in the world of Vettes.