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Bakers on SEMA

SEMA is so huge that it takes days to see it all


If you’ve ever been to the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, then you will know it can be decidedly daunting.  With more than 2,000 exhibitors occupying over 1 million square feet of space to cover, that’s a lot of shoe leather!  The SEMA experience also includes entry to the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) show, which takes place close by, so you get to see two events in one – providing you are fit enough.  Fortunately, the event is open for more than one day, so trade visitors can also fit in those important business meetings.  This year, the SEMA experience attracted well over 100,000 visitors. 

Awesome pro-touring early Mopar


SEMA is best described as a world showcase for new automotive products, and if someone was to put together the seven wonders of the automotive world, then this show would definitely be one of them – it’s an event you must see at least once in your life.


UK-based hot rodder and custom painter, Keith Baker, and wife, Karen, thought pretty much the same – they wanted to see what all the fuss was about for themselves – so as part of a long-overdue holiday to the US, decided to visit this huge event, which took place in October.  They kindly agreed to share their experiences with 

Injected big block power for this pro-street style roadster


“I was expecting to see a lot of interesting new products, but actually, there wasn’t a great deal I hadn’t seen before, says Keith.  “We were both blown away by the size of the event, however, and it’s very well laid out.  We were told it would take about four days to see the show in full, but we got to see everything in two days and spent a third revisiting at a more leisurely pace.  We lost weight too, which is perhaps not surprising with so much walking involved. 

A meeting of beards! Looks like Keith Baker (right) has met his match with hot rodder Bo Huff


“It’s definitely a place to go if you want to rub shoulders with automotive celebrities.  We bumped into old friends and new acquaintances, which included bikers Arlen Ness and Dave Perewitz, hot rodder Bo Huff, designer Larry Erickson, Carroll Shelby and we even got to meet drag racing legend, Tom McEwen.  How cool was that!   

Custom bike builders Arlen Ness (right) and Dave Perewitz


“There was a big pro-touring influence at the show, which was particularly noticeable on the Mopar stand where new Challenger and ‘Cuda concepts were being shown alongside seriously modified early examples that looked like they could have come straight out of Troy Trepanier’s workshop – maybe they did?  These were some of the show highlights for us, along with the numerous street rods on display, though it was obvious that many of these would have cost in excess of a million dollars to build. 

Recently announced Challenger concept in the Mopar time tunnel

Mopar's take on a new 'Cuda concept 

Another stunning pro-touring Mopar with a Hemi punch to match

The original and legendary 426 HEMI


“What you don’t realise until you see it for yourself is that there’s a massive show outside of the halls around the main entrance, with some seriously nice rods, customs and late-model modified cars on show.  Then, in a separate, air- conditioned marquee, you could see Chip Foose and the Overhaulin’ team busy thrashing over a project for an unsuspecting individual, and in another area was an off-road section, where visitors could get a taste of monster truck action. 

Massive rear tyres and zoomie headers add a race look to this deuce coupe  


“Would we go again?  Probably, but not straightaway, as it’s likely to be pretty much the same next year.  We’ve been there, bought the t-shirt and generally absorbed enough to keep us going for a long time to come, but at least we know what all the fuss is about now.”


Story: Keith Baker
Photos: Keith Baker & SEMA

Stunning execution of this radical '37 Ford inspired project....

....or if you prefer - an original untouched 35/36 Ford

Detailed to perfection - but would you ever use it?

The style that's all the rage at the moment

Coker Tires had this huffed flathead-powered roadster on display

New sheet metal for the '55 Chevy on display 

Tom "the Mongoose" McEwen meets a long time fan

Are those headers for real?

Coupe style hardtop fitted this radical 'vette

Brookville showed off their steel 3-window coupe

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