As SEMA so graciously titled me an "Opinion Leader" in their Enthusiasts Network, I was asked to tweet and blog about what I saw. Their primary goal was to push #SEMA into a trending topic on Twitter to get more attention in social media than would have otherwise been the case. In exchange for access to the show, I was more than happy to do my part. They didn't say that all my comments should be positive, after all.
At every SEMA show, there is one car that is on display to show off the vendors installed product more than any other. Previous car models that energized the industry were the Mini Cooper in its first year, and more recently the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger. This year seemed to be all Chevrolet Camaro, all the time. To the point that I began to joke to my friends: oh, look - a customized Camaro!
The Detroit News posted pictures of 48 SEMA Camaros in their gallery:
I suppose I understand why all the brands flock to the latest exciting car. But that is tempered by the notion that the impact of the display is diluted when the Camaro in your booth is the fifteenth custom Camaro presented to the show attendee. Maybe that's why I remember the WD-40 Camaro and Hurst Camaro, both on display in the lobby, and the Edelbrock Camaro in the second row of booths, but I am hard pressed to recall any of the dozens of additional Camaros peppered across the show floor.
How about a Nissan GT-R, like Hankook and BASF did, or Cadillac XLR or CTS. Bilstein had two amazing cars. An off road racer tribute to the Olympia Beer sponsored Bronco of the '70s, and an old Ford sedan styled to look like a Duesenberg! How about a 60's classic? Or a Ring Brothers custom.
As I finish writing this, I've realised why the Camaro was everywhere at SEMA this year. It was the most recent exciting car that's accessible to the mass audience. Customers coming to SEMA need to be looking for products that excite their customers, and you might not find those products hanging on a Lamborghini.
And there was one display car based on the new Camaro that I really liked. But that was because it looked like a Firebird Trans Am. If only the brand would have survived...