SEMA Stays the Course by TCC Team (11/5/2001)
With all the news at Ford and GM, the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas took a backseat to other major news. But TheCarConnection didn’t leave the floor until we found the 10 products no serious enthusiast — okay, even some less serious — should do without. Our favorite aftermarket parts from Las Vegas (excepting those on Siegfried and Roy) follow:
And though it’s not a product per se, we start with the most-talked-about vehicle of the show, Decoma’s PT/10 Lifestyle Cruiser. Ho hum, you say, customized PT Cruisers were last year’s SEMA Show news. Not so fast —this is a one-of-a-kind PT pickup with 500 horsepower! That’s right, the Decoma folks managed to shoehorn a Viper V10 into the PT’s engine bay.
“We took the fascia off, then cut a hole in the firewall that was the circumference of the motor,” said Bob Fehan, Decoma’s director of advanced marketing, who designed this truly unique PT and led the team that executed it. They had to re-route or reposition every wire or hose “while working our way slowly back” through the engine bay. “We used as many Viper components as we could, including the independent suspension,” he added.
Last year, Troy, Michigan-based Decoma won awards for its woodie PT, “so our boss challenged us to top it,” Fehan said. “I took my artwork to Chrysler a month after last year’s SEMA Show, but we didn’t finish the truck until a week ago, after working four-to-five months on it.” Fehan’s work was rewarded with the Chrysler Group Design Excellence Award for the best “Chrysler Brand Statement.” “Everybody says it’s the talk of the show because everything works,” Fehan told us, adding ruefully, ”but everything had to be hand made.”
Sitback Sound SEMA 2001Enlarge Photo
Sitback Sound offers a different take on hands-free cellular devices, a system that attaches to the vehicle’s headrest. In fact it looks like another headrest mounted over your existing one. But there’s a loudspeaker mounted inside and a flexible, omni-directional microphone attached to the side. Plug the German-built system into any 12-volt power outlet and Sitback Sound promises “high-quality sound and clarity the same as a land phone,” said Neil Sobelson of AR Solutions Management. His SEMA Show floor demonstration to TCC was impressive. Sitback Sound claims compatibility with 98 percent of current cell phones and allows you to use one phone while charging another. The first dealer shipments should be in late November, while single units can be ordered from www.sitbacksound.com at $299 each.
Bestop Super Soundbar SEMA 2001Enlarge Photo
Sound is certainly what Bestop’s Super Soundbar for Jeep Wranglers is all about. Consisting of two, weather-resistant, 6.5-inch Sony X-plod speakers and two map lights, this three-way adjustable soundbar features an acoustically designed shape which can be mounted to any rollbar up to 2.5 inches. “We just try to make products that solve problems for the consumer,” said Bestop’s Brian Schmidt. “We know that current Jeep sound systems aren’t too flexible.” Bestop produces some 300 different Jeep tops and accessories that it sells to distributors throughout the U.S. Seewww.bestop.com for a list of dealers.
Travel Tray SEMA 2001Enlarge Photo
Tired of cleaning the inside of your car every time one of your (or someone else’s) kids deposits food, drink, toys or whatever all over the seats or floor? The Travel Play Co. has come to your rescue with the Travel Tray, a collapsible unit that creates a contained area that fits onto a child’s lap. Creator Gali Rotstein designed the unit so that her eight-year-old daughter “could do artwork in the car.” Thus there’s a place for crayons, pencils or whatever, and a lift-up clear plastic flap that allows tracing. There’s also a cup holder, perhaps for small gulps. Made of nylon, Travel Tray resists water, adjusts to fit children of many sizes, doesn’t interfere with seatbelts, and lists for $23.95. You can buy it online at www.travelplayco.com. The company is looking for dealers and distributors, which was the main reason they came to the SEMA Show.