If you've never been to SEMA, it may take the entire show's entire four-day run to recover from the shock and awe associated with being assaulted by so much automotive eye candy. SEMA veterans like your author are less affected. Having survived 15 years of the November ritual, there's not much shock or awe to be perpetrated on this journalist, but some "craftsmen" still succeed.
The following are TheCarConnection.com's picks for the most egregiously extreme creations of SEMA 2008. We had to walk the show's entire 1.8-million square feet to bring these to you. Enjoy--or grab a barf bag.
Once a 6 Series
This stands out as the absolute worst of SEMA 2008. The unfortunate abomination started life as a BMW 6 Series. It occupied valuable carpet space in a booth hawking audio systems, explaining the single-seat interior covered in acres of oddly flowing fiberglass. The shiny surfaces were painted to match the exterior motif, and were pocked by dozens of speakers. What a terrible end for what has once a very nice car.
Thankfully, there weren't more of these at SEMA 2008. The other creations on our Nightmare on Paradise Avenue list highlight extreme creativity and/or a complete lack of taste … as opposed to a wanton disregard for everything sacred.
Presumably to generate excitement for their new GLX, Mercedes enlisted four customizing houses to create "unique" versions of their new sport utility. Boulevard Customs made the GLK pictured here. Built strictly for sunny weather, it has no top and no side windows. Regardless of what you think of the overall piece, the bolder GLK grill works, as to do the doors released of their clunky handles.
Thomas DuPont (of DuPont Registry fame) oversees Boulevard Customs. He confidently asserts some rational behind the build, "This GLK generates excitement, and we're seeing interest from enthusiasts who live in developing countries where the skill to build customized vehicles simply doesn't exist. We want to be able to design and create custom vehicles for clients in places like India and China, and this vehicle is a calling card for us."
Don't Tread on Me
HUMMERs are easy to make fun of these days, especially ones like this H2. Instead of sporting regular doughnuts, this one uses mini bulldozer treads. One assumes the setup works, but we can't help but wonder what good that spare tire is.
George Barris is the undisputed King of Customizing. While he's getting up there in years, he still knows how to stop showgoers in their tracks. The crazy BatSmart car transfers elements of his original Batmobile onto the diminutive smart fortwo. Between the rear fins are the requisite Bat Rocket launchers. Twin Bat Parachutes flank what appears to be the Bat Jet Engine exhaust (but could have been a repurposed conical air filter). Flames were not shooting out when we happened by the display--which was good because the car was backed into its booth and the resulting fire would have readily burnt SEMA's North Hall to the ground.
Land of the Giants
Sport Chassis is a division of the Freightliner truck company. They make very large trucks for "personal use," and their newest models is the P4XL. This truck is a leather-lined monster. Coddled by the same hides that pamper Mercedes AMG owners, you look down on traffic from a height of about 10 feet. Its four-wheel drive and Cummins diesel power (1,000 pound-feet of torque) will take you anywhere. During the height of our country's super-size fad, this truck was the ultimate in cool. Today, despite how capable and comfortable it is, it's the height of irrelevance.