Top 5 Aftermarket Trends From the 2017 SEMA Show

Alex Reid
by Alex Reid

The SEMA show is the world’s biggest aftermarket equipment trade show, and every year, it offers a lot of insight into some industry trends.

Roaming the massive show grounds in Las Vegas this year, here are the five biggest trends we noticed.

5. Wheels Are Everything

Throughout our time at SEMA, we’re pretty sure we didn’t see two sets of wheels alike, and most of the cars we did see featured wider tires on the rear than in the front, so even on the same car there were only two wheels alike. There are too many aftermarket wheel manufacturers to list, and they offer everything from classic looks to over-the-top designs – they’re all well represented at SEMA. We found that most of the typical cars that you would find at SEMA (think terrible body kits and tacky paint jobs) were found in the wheel vendors booths, who are looking to show that they can make anything look good, even if they’re wrong.

4. Paint Jobs Are Old News

You’ve got a super nice paint job? That’s cute, but this car is covered in splatter and rainbow colors. While paint still has its place at SEMA, many of the best cars here are painted in a single color, so they’re seemingly less impressive than some of the others with insane and kooky motifs. Wraps are all the rage now, chrome, tiger stripe, honeycomb, spaghetti, you name it, and they’ll wrap it.

2017 SEMA Show Full Coverage

3. Ratty Is In

Patina is earned, not bought. It’s really refreshing to see cars with completely original bodywork, warts, rust and all. Many of the customizers are dead set on preserving the war-torn exteriors of their hot rods, while still upgrading the skeleton to modern spec. Possibly the best testament to the true ethos of hot-rodding is the rat rod, because it emphasizes that no matter what your car looks like, going fast always looks cool.

2. 500 HP is Lame

If you think 500 horsepower is impressive in 2017, you might as well be driving a Delorean because you need to go back to the future. Every high-performance car at SEMA is now packing 600 hp or more, a lot of them even offering more than 1,000 horses, such as the Ringbrothers Javelin or the insane 1,600-HP Hennessey Venom F5. This is really a testament to very advanced engine technology and what people are able to do with internal combustion, even as we usher in the new age of “quiet speed” and electric cars, there are a lot of auto customizers holding on to good ‘ol dino-power.

1. The Builds Are Surprisingly Restrained

SEMA is a true testament to the phrase “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” and usually that’s true. Every year, people bring cars that make the eyes water, are too customized to drive, or make us ask, “Why would you even spend money on that?” But this year felt different. The builds were mostly cohesive and featured nice touches, most of the cars we saw were not over the top and covered with barely clad women airbrushed on the hood, or so cut up that we couldn’t tell what the car started as. Are we seeing a monumental shift in car customizing? A lack of imagination? Or maybe just the fact that nobody wanted to be embarrassed by being on another “worst of SEMA” list? Well, we did see some pretty terrible builds, but they were kept far, far away!

Alex Reid
Alex Reid

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