The Optima Invitational, or Optima Ultimate Street Series, or whatever they’re calling it these days, invites owners of any and all vehicles to join in a multi-stage performance test in a bid to be crowned the ultimate street car (and driver). Cars are split into classes based on age and weight, and follow pretty standard rules – mandating street tires, limiting aftermarket aero and, of course, making sure everything is safe – as they tackle up to 4 challenges during 1 of 8 qualifying rounds across America. From Pike’s Peak to Michigan International, drivers from all over the country are able to show up and try their luck in road rally, road course, autocross or speed stop, as well as receive points for how streetable their car is. The top performers at each qualifying round, as well as the winners of each event and some lucky “Spirit of the Event” cars get invited to the final showdown at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, held immediately after SEMA.
Unfortunately for us, the majority of cars had already rolled out before we could get shots, but we got to see some great cars at their booth inside the hall. Check out the gallery for all the pics that we managed to get!
The Wheel and Tire Hall of the SEMA Show in the south halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center is probably my favorite halls to check out during this grueling week-long show. If you’re going to hit up the show only for a single day, this is a great place to start. There is constantly something cool to see whether you’re into In-Car-Entertainment, wheels, trucks, exotics, luxury or booth babe–I mean, booth professionals.
Center stage at the Ford booth here at the 2015 SEMA Show was the Ford GT Le Mans race car, unveiled this summer, commemorates the 50th anniversary of Ford’s 1966 overall victory. The new race car is based on the all-new Ford GT supercar unveiled last January in Detroit and features the most powerful production EcoBoost engine, a twin-turbo V6.
As with last year, there were numerous Mustangs, Focus, and F-150s with mild to radical modifications. The Ford booth at SEMA is always a fun booth to walk through as there is usually something different to check out. In fact, for 2015 the Ford Mustang won the SEMA Show’s Hottest Car award which is based on how many tuners/exhibitors had a Mustang on display. There were some pretty crazy Mustangs at SEMA, but my favorite one was actually in the Ford booth this year. You can check it out in the gallery below, it’s the white widebody with blue wheels built by Ice Nine Group.
Check it, and the other vehicles in the Ford SEMA 2015 booth.
Headlining the Mopar booth at the 2015 SEMA Show was definitely the Dodge Challenger GT AWD Concept with its wide fender flares to fit the massive 20×11 and 20×10 wheels, and yeah you read that right. The GT AWD Concept combines raw muscle car power with the confidence and traction of all-wheel-drive proving that yes, you can have your cake and eat it too. That extra traction is needed to as the 5.7L HEMI V8 under the hood has been upgraded with the Scat Pack 3 Performance Pack which adds 75 horsepower and 44 lb-ft of torque.
While not quite as well rounded as last year’s SEMA booth there were still a few cars worth a look in the booth. The Chrysler 300 Super S dropped on a set of factory coilovers and Chrysler 200 S Mopar showed off the customization options available for Chrysler vehicles. In addition, a pair of Fiat 500 concepts, the Chicane and Mobe show off the personalization options available to Fiat owners. Rounding out our coverage is the Dodge Ram Rebel X which appears to be a Dodge Ram with the entire Dodge parts catalog bolted on covered in a paint job they call Copper.
Check out the pictures of the Mopar Booth in our gallery.
Hey look, MINI and BMW vehicles grouped together. Sometimes we make logical decisions, or perhaps some of the alcohol has worn off and we’re thinking a bit more clearly.
The BMW group had great representation at the 2015 edition of the SEMA Show. A couple notable examples would be Bulletproof Automotive’s BMW Z4 GT Continuum which was at the Toyo booth and a vehicle we referred to as “the rusty BMW”. The GT Continuum was a special project for their 15th anniversary. Like the MX-5 Speedster the GT Continuum ditches the windshield and also removes the folding metal roof. The end result looks like a steam-roller drove over the Z4 as it looks really low from hood to trunk.
The rusty BMW was actually not a build with actual rusty panels like you would see at your local DUBfest shows but instead, as I learned when googling the vehicle, a look the owner/builder created by rubbing motor oil on the exposed panels. The vehicle was actually pretty heavily damaged in a garage fire but his team was able to rebuild and salvage parts of the vehicle to turn it into the tube-framed beast you see here.
Check it, and the some of the other BMW and MINIs that we shot at the 2015 SEMA show.
OK, so maybe they didn’t take over SEMA but there was quite a few of them, and it was pretty awesome to see them all in one place. Nakai-San was here at SEMA as well, but unfortunately we didn’t run into him. RWB’s unique style is quite polarizing though as there are just as many people that hate Nakai-San’s creations as those that absolutely love it. While it isn’t something I personally would do to my own vehicle if I had one, I can certainly appreciate all the work that goes into each customer car. Pirelli brought a red RWB 911, LA’s JennaBelle to their booth and Forgestar/iForged hosted 5 other RWB 911s.
I know, I know, it’s really weird that we’re combining Lexus and Hyundai. “Why didn’t you just lump Lexus in with Toyota”? Because we’re in Vegas, the land of bad decisions and worse consequences. “I really don’t understand why you can’t just do it now instead of typing a stupid explanation”. Because the files are already named as such and it’s more difficult to fix it than to just apologize.
Honestly though, does it matter? You’re just here for the pictures and we’ve organized them nicely, Hyundai first, then Lexus. Wanna see a Veloster? Start at the beginning. Wanna see an RCF? Start near the middle. These are the sort of simple concepts that we COMPLETELY FAIL TO GRASP ON A REGULAR BASIS.
Toyota mixed things up at SEMA 2015 this year, packing their booth with trucks and SUVs while a handful of classic cars treated those who stepped outside. I spent most of my time admiring the Corollas and Supras – what 30-something boy racer wouldn’t? – but the bigger vehicles were definitely the stars of the show for Toyota. Especially given the notable absence of the FT-1. This is the first show in almost two years that Toyota hasn’t brought the FT-1 Concept, which kinda worries us.
The Back to the Future Tacoma made an appearance in a faux-toy package getting whatever mileage they can while BTTF is still relevant. A Tundra was converted into a limousine which, these days, isn’t that outrageous. Hell, we were given more pause by the Challenger limo roaming the strip later in the night. The most ridiculous vehicle Toyota brought was one that almost slipped under our radar. At first glance we saw this matte black lifted 4×4 with bumper, winch and LED bars and thought it was just another 4Runner from the TRD parts bin. We walked away without giving it much more thought. It wasn’t until Bernard looked back and noticed the odd shape that we realized it wasn’t an ordinary 4Runner. In fact, it wasn’t a 4Runner at all… it was a Sienna.
Toyota took their minivan and turned it into an off-road machine, which is precisely what we want to see at a show like SEMA. Decisions that go past “What was this guy thinking?” and into “I don’t care what he was thinking, this is awesome”. I’m sure most guys in North America who drive a minivan would love to do something like this, and now they’ve got a template. Check it out, along with Toyota’s other offerings, in the gallery below.
It’s not like the standard MX-5 roadster was a heavyweight, but Mazda designers wanted to see what could be achieved if weight savings were pushed to the limits. They were given free reign to craft a couple examples of lightweight prototypes based on the MX-5 and the result are the two concepts below: The 2016 MX-5 Spyder Concept and 2016 MX-5 Speedster Concept.
The MX-5 Spyder takes the unique characteristics of a vintage roadster and modernizes it to include a bespoke leather interior and a fresh new Mercury Silver prototype paint color.
For the MX-5 Speedster, Miata designers took it to extremes while paying homage to the minimalist roadsters of the ’50s. Painted in a Blue Ether paint, the MX-5 Speedster even ditches the windshield in favor of a carbon fiber deflector providing that true wind in the hair driving experience.
Both of these vehicles weigh significantly less than the already light 2,332 pound MX-5 roadster. Take a look through our gallery and let us know what you think!
If you’ve been at any car show in the past couple years you’ll no doubt have heard Honda extolling the virtues of the Acura NSX. That’s because they haven’t really had anything exciting to announce and whenever they did unveil new vehicles like the MDX and TLX, I swear they spent more time talking about the NSX than the car they were about to pull the tarps off of. Here at SEMA, it’s no different. Honda wants you to know that even if you might not be in the market for an NSX, the NSX DNA lurks in all of their vehicles.
All kidding aside, Honda did preview their next-generation 2017 Ridgeline in the form of a race-prepped Baja off-road racing truck. We’ve only seen teaser preview renders up until now so this is the closest look we’ve had to the new Ridgeline. What we know so far is that it will share a platform with the recently released Pilot, and we will likely see it unveiled in Detroit in January, or possibly even as soon as LA in a couple weeks. The new Ridgeline is supposed to be available for order late next year.
Another cool gem in the Honda booth was the matte white HR-V towing a white Grom as well as the immaculate Acura Legend that was roped off along with the blue NSX. The Legend belongs to rapper turned actor Ludacris and was restored by Acura after it was damaged in an accident.
Check out the rest of the vehicles in our gallery.