The annual Specialty Equipment Market Association show is where the aftermarket, modification and tuning brands show what they can do when fully unleashed. And where the major car companies dress up their vehicles without being bound by function or logic.
The show opens tonight, but we’ve already got sneak previews of several star cars. Topping our list is the Lamborghini Murcielago LP 620 – one of four cars being displayed by tyre brand Toyo – modified by top Japanese Lambo tuning house Liberty Walk with a stainless steel vinyl wrap, custom fascia, riveted fender panels and a large rear wing.
Then there’s the Tanom Motors Invader, a three-wheeled car/trike that will be unveiled at the show in TR-3 Roadster and TC-3 Coupe versions – the latter apparently a collaboration with rock musician Sammy Hagar.
Using the 128kW/133Nm 1300cc engine from a Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle, with a six-speed (plus reverse) sequential gearbox delivering the outputs to the fat 18-in wide rear tyre, the lightweight fibreglass-bodied Invader claims a 0-100km/h time of just four seconds.
The big Detroit brands are on many of the highly modified efforts. Those wearing a Blue Oval badge include a Ford Mustang GT by Mothers and a Mustang 'Boy Racer’ by 3dCarbon, a special Ford Focus ST SEMA by Cosworth M&J, and Ford Fusions by MRT and 3dCarbon.
General Motors vehicles are also popular, with some great examples including the Chevrolet Cruze Upscale, Chevrolet Spark Sinister, Chevrolet Malibu Turbo Performance Concept and Chevrolet Sonic Dust .
And the Chrysler (and now Fiat) family can boast the Chrysler 300 Luxury Concept, Dodge Dart Carbon Fibre, Jeep Wrangler Sand Trooper and – another favourite at Carsguide – the Fiat 500 Beach Cruiser.
Korean powerhouse Hyundai has been the basis for the Ark Veloster Alpine Concept, Cosworth Hyundai Genesis Coupe and Hyundai Velocity Concept.
And the big T is not being left out, with a Nascar-tuned Toyota Camry Rowdy Edition, Scion FR-S (Toyota 86 to us) by Wald International and a supercharged version called the Scion FR-S Nur Concept.
And to top it off – so far – with a gloriously illogical modification, there’s the Clint Bowyer Toyota Prius. It’s reportedly undergone some performance fiddling, but more teched-up than tweaked, with a massive 17-in touchscreen, two computer tables in the rear, a 16-speaker JBL audio system, and cameras replacing the side mirrors.