At a show that plays host to some of the country's most talented car and truck builders, it's tough to pick the best of the best. With that caveat, here are "some" of the best of from the 2008 edition of SEMA.That Rolls Has a HEMI!
A lightly used 1970 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow isn't anything special (or worth very much). But the rebuilt Roller crafted by Joe Richardson from Denver, North Carolina is truly exceptional (and expensive). The RR sports a fuel-injected 572-cubic inch Chrysler Hemi that twists its crank with the help of nitrous oxide and a 671-style supercharger. Richardson, who owns Little Joe's Street Rod Shop, dynoed the Hemi at 1,350 horsepower.
Once the sheer surprise of seeing a slammed Roller with a blower sticking out of the hood wears off, you can begin to appreciate the craftsmanship and overall design restraint exercised by Richardson and the vehicle's owners (a couple from Florida). The chassis rides on an air suspension, but beyond the requisite billet wheels and the modified hood, the exterior is as it was when it left Crewe in 1970. Stock bumpers. Stock door handles. Stock lights. Stock Spirit of Ecstasy.
Inside, the execution is less stock, but compared to what one often sees at SEMA, it's still restrained. Leather hides that would make Connley proud cover the interior, including the integrated roll bar. The jar of Grey Poupon mustard sitting on the rear armrest between was a nice touch.Cloning Eleanor
Your author has a soft spot for resto mods (restored bodies, modern everything else). Jason Engel of Classic Recreations builds Eleanor, a fully licensed "Gone in 60 Seconds" 1967 Mustang that encourages the rediscovery of H.B. Halicki's classic 1974 smash-'em-up movie. The detailing and quality was excellent, as it should be for a $139,000 Mustang that is built entirely of new parts. But it will safely run an honest 171 mph, much faster than H.B. ever dreamed of taking the original Eleanor. Engle has already sold over 100 vehicles in just a few months, but the license caps production at 1,000 units. Better hurry, spots are being snapped up by newly rich Russians and Chinese.Move 'em Out
The off-road crowd occupies tons of space at SEMA. We saw all kinds of lifted sand smashers and rock hoppers, but none had quite the level of finish as this Jeep produced by COP 4x4 (Crocker Off-road Performance). The details of this build caught our attention; note the helpful stirrup hanging from the driver's door opening and the bumper-width LED light bar. Under the hood of this beast pumps a Chrysler HEMI, but not the expected SRT-sourced 6.1-liter. This one is bored out to over seven liters and delivers over 500 horsepower to the wheels.Home Away From Home
About the only thing missing from the aforementioned COP 4x4 Jeep was a place to turn in after watching the sun set from some exotic and remote locale. The folks at BajaRack Adventure Equipment address this need with a roof-mounted two-person tent set up that keeps you well above ground and presumably safer from snakes and other creepy critters that live where this modified Toyota FJ can take you. The entire package folds into a tidy package atop the FJ's roof rack.A Fish of a Different Color
In a sea of Camaros, Mustangs, and countless Challengers, this Chip Foose Plymouth 'Cuda swam away from the school of pony cars that populated SEMA 2008. The dramatic coloring and tasteful detailing (note the shaved door handles but the stock grille and side mirror) demonstrate a maturity often lost with these kinds of cars.