It’s time for our Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show coverage again; Diesel World was there in force to scope out the newest trends and hottest rides on display. Lifted trucks are always a staple of the diesel market at SEMA, and this year didn’t disappoint. We spotted everything from functional off-road vehicles like chase trucks, to enormous show trucks, to trailer-hauling monsters. Big horsepower isn’t usually on display at SEMA, but there were still a few trucks in the 800 to 1,200hp range, along with a 3,000hp supercharged monster (more on that in a bit).
A few years ago the showgrounds were teeming with common-rail Cummins swaps, as many folks were out to prove that it could indeed be made to work. Last year however seemed to be the year of the 12-valve, as we saw more mechanical diesels than ever at SEMA. It seems that mindset made its way into 2017 too, as almost all the swaps we saw were mechanically motivated. These swapped trucks were also almost all modifi ed; we noticed a Steed Speed manifold and Attitude Adjuster on Laid Back Garage’s Jambulance, and a 66mm turbo on Complete Performance’s VE-pumped 5.9L Cummins Bronco. The point was clear: Factory 160-215hp Cummins engines weren’t going to cut it. New Fords were out in force this year, as there were almost double the amount of modified ’17 Fords as any other year truck. Lifted trucks ruled the skyline, and almost all of these rides were sporting expensive airride or coilover setups. Wheel well lights to show off the suspension were also practically mandatory, and were on at least half of the lifted rides.
No Really, It’s a Diesel
People still aren’t used to seeing superchargers on diesels, and there were two vehicles that many attendees walked right past without ever knowing they were diesel-powered. In the Wolf Aircraft booth there was an outrageously custom Dodge Charger, complete with dual chain-driven blowers sticking through the non-existent hood thanks to the Welderup crew. What people couldn’t see was that the Charger had a highly modified 5.9L Cummins under the hood, complete with twin turbos to compliment the superchargers.
The second and by far wilder of the two was the ’37 Chevy coupe that was a joint creation between Wagler Racing Components, EZ Lynk, and Premier Performance. The tube-chassis hot rod was fitted with a DX500 engine a 500 cubic-inch diesel loosely based on Duramax technology. Everything from the block to the heads to the oiling system was custom however, and instead of turbos the engine was topped off with a massive PSI screw blower. Wagler hinted that 70-plus pounds of boost along with multiple stages of nitrous should propel the 2,900-pound ride deep into the 6-second zone.
What We Learned from SEMA
There were a few good takeaways from SEMA this year, the most important of which is the horsepower trend. We’ve seen a lot of factory engines in the past, but this year saw modified Cummins engines of all sorts, and even the newer Fords were running 150- to 200-horsepower tuning. Lift kits are getting more and more complex for these trucks, but we did notice the “wheels-out” trend that started in Central California now seems mostly confined to the Midwest. A huge number of gasoline engines are based on aftermarket blocks, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see more custom engines in the future that are Power Stroke or Cummins based. One thing that sort of stumped us was the lack of Jeep and Cummins/Nissan diesels, as it seems that full-size trucks are still the only option for most enthusiasts. Finally, most of the vehicles here had wild paint, body, interior, and engine modifications, which thankfully shows a more wellrounded approach than ever to build a SEMA vehicle. See you guys in 2018!DW