Probably the most attractive hot rod of the entire show was this stock-appearing '55 Buick Roadmaster. Owned since 1972 by Tonight Show host Jay Leno (who as a struggling comic would reportedly often sleep in it), the Roadmaster incorporates Corvette front and rear suspension systems and GM's latest crate engine, a 572-cubic-inch big-block V-8 rated at 620 horsepower. Those are 17-inch alloy wheels on the Roadmaster concealed behind stock-looking wheel covers and the tires have had their sidewalls shaved of all markings and impressed with wide whitewalls. It's a total sleeper -- right up to the moment Leno starts it and it barks out that there's big power aboard. The car was built at Leno's own Big Dog Garage in Burbank, California.
2003 Chevrolet Aveo EXTREME SEMA conceptEnlarge Photo
Everything was "XTREME" in Chevrolet's portion of the GM display where it showed rubbed versions of its new Aveo minicar, Malibu sedan, Colorado compact pickup, and Equinox small SUV. With bulging fenders, 18-inch wheels and green paint, the Aveo XTREME looks like a gangrenous thumb sewn to a roller skate, but it's otherwise mechanically stock.
2003 Chevrolet Malibu EXTREME SEMA conceptEnlarge Photo
The Malibu XTREME wears 19-inch wheels, a bunch of carbon Kevlar trim and gets power from the 2.0-liter, supercharged Ecotec four used in the new Saturn ION Red Line coupe.
2003 Chevrolet Colorado EXTREME SEMA conceptEnlarge Photo
The Colorado XTREME runs 18-inch wheels, has a slick aluminum rear tonneau cover, and is drenched in PPG Poppy Red paint, but the drivetrain is the stock 220-horsepower, 3.5-liter in-line five.
The Equinox XTREME has a Garrett turbo heaving into its 3.5-liter V-6, gets a lot of body pieces, a lot of on-board electronics and his shod with HRE 20-inch wheels and Toyo Proxes tires. The XTREME brand will likely show up on all these vehicles eventually, but don't expect the productions versions to be so, well, extreme.
2003 HUMMER H2 SUT conceptEnlarge Photo
GM did introduce one new production vehicle at SEMA and that was the Hummer H2 SUT -- basically a Hummer H2 SUV given the Avalanche treatment with a small pickup bed replacing the rear third of the truck and a fold-down panel between the cab and cargo area to extend the capacity. The SUT goes into production as a 2005 model during 2004 and was shown as a "Dirt Sports" concept at SEMA wearing a bunch of non-standard stuff including an Eaton supercharger.
2003 Buick Rainier TW conceptEnlarge Photo
Buick's Rainier and Rendezvous 'TW' concepts were both decorated to celebrate that automotive legend, Tiger Woods. The most intriguing element between the two was the 345-horsepower 6.0-liter V-8 crammed between the Rainier's frame rails.
2003 Pontiac Sunfire Autocross conceptEnlarge Photo
Pontiac applied the Autocross name to versions of the Grand Am, Grand Prix, GTO, Sunfire, and Vibe at SEMA. The Grand Am is a goner, so it's irrelevant. But both the Sunfire and Vibe wore superchargers on their four-cylinder engines and the Grand Prix had a 5.3-liter V-8 driving its front wheels. The Aussie-built GTO, which features a Corvette 5.7-liter V-8 in production trim, was only cosmetically tweaked.
Rather than add anything to their lineup, Mitsubishi used the SEMA show to introduce the 2004 Lancer Evolution RS that is really more like a subtraction. It's basically an Evo VIII that has had such pesky items as the rear spoiler, sound system, power window mechanisms, air conditioning, and rear windshield wiper stripped from it. As a result it's about 150 pounds lighter than the regular Evo despite addition of a helical-type limited slip front differential and rear crossbar that increases stiffness of the unibody's structure. Otherwise the RS is pure Evo -- it still gets 271 horsepower from its turbocharged 2.0-liter four and that power still shoots out through a five-speed manual transmission to an all-wheel drive system. For the hardcore knuckleheads this car will attract, the best news should be a lower sticker price.