SEMA Show is sometimes referred to as the pulse of the automotive aftermarket. It’s where brands and manufacturers showcase their latest and greatest aftermarket accessories. And every year there are hundreds—if not thousands—of cool custom vehicles to be seen. From hot rods and imports to trucks and vans, SEMA has some really awesome vehicles. Here are our favorites from the 2023 SEMA Show.
On display in the POR 15 booth was this bright International Scout, complete with a 392 under the hood. Every time I passed it in Central Hall, I liked it more. It has the just-right stance and looks ready for the trail.
Slammed Honda Acty
We love kei cars. We love vans. This Honda Acty van combines them both. The tiny van was slammed on air ride and had a great minimal body kit, roof rack with awning, and a host of other accessories. It was a super clean build with enough wow to be wild.
Anvil from Denmark
After 17 SEMA Shows, it takes quite a bit for me to fanboy over something. But when I came around the corner to see “Anvil,” this wild cabover I’d seen on TikTok, I was smitten. Anvil was shipped from Denmark and is the creation of Samuel Pedersen. It has a VW LT cab, an International-Harvester frame, and is powered by a mid-engine Cummins 6BT. The whole works is on airbags and is simply badass.
Wavetrac BMW 2002
I’m a sucker for a super-clean BMW 2002, and the one in the Wavetrac booth was just that.
The Kooglewerks engine was clean enough to eat off of, and the individual throttle body setup looked amazing.
The car was finished in an original orange hue and, frankly, was my idea of a perfect BMW 2002.
New Daihatsu Hijet + Trail Trailers
This is an interesting setup: It’s a new Daihatsu Hijet imported by Mini Monsters in St. George, UT. It’s brought in as a UTV, so no need to worry about the 25-year rule. Behind it is a Trail Trailers “The Mode” compact trailer. All metal construction, Timbren suspension, and UTV tires along with a host of camp gear made this subcompact trailer a standout. Now this would be cool behind our Crosstrek or Pajero! Trail Trailers is in Logan, UT.
Slammed JDM Pickup
This JDM Nissan Sunny truck was just so good. From the aerofan wheels to the big canopy with bubble window, it just hit all the right weird notes for me.
The wheels and tires on this were wild and helped add to the racy nature. I don’t even know what was under the hood. Frankly, I don’t care. I could look at this all day.
Every time I look at this Foose and Emroy-built Meyers Manx dune buggy I love it more. From the BFGoodrich KO2s to that just-right blue hue, I simply adore it. It retained an air-cooled VW engine but had a Porsche fan on it. Love, love, love!
Strong Hand BMW 2002
I contemplated having two BMW 2002s in this article, but this simply had to be here. With fat fenders, a great color, and awesome wheels, this Bimmer was located in the Strong Hand Tools booth and looked ready for some laps on the Nürburgring.
Landsail Volkswagen ID.Buzz
This is only the second Volkswagen ID.Buzz I’ve ever seen, and I sure I didn’t expect to see a custom one at the SEMA Show let alone in the Landsail Tires booth. Landsail is a Chinese tire manufacturer, and most of the tires I’ve seen from them are cheap. Regardless, they had a great-looking VW EV in their booth.
I had a personal hand in this custom Jeep FC located in the Realtruck booth. I was on the 2022 Four Wheeler Overl a nd Adventure with the truck’s owner and builder, Roy Wallace. There he had a blue double-cab during that event. Months later, I helped him procure the WARN winch, bumper, and hubs, as well as the Factor 55 recovery gear when I worked at Warn Industries. So to see the 1962 FC 170 finally come to light was awesome.
There’s so much to see here and so much is custom. from the wheels and tires to the lift, and of course the Summit Expedition Trucks aluminum tray and box. Our friends at Gone-Gpn have a full walkaround of it, too. FYI, it has a 5.3-liter LS engine and 6L80 transmission.
I love this thing from pretty much any angle. Definitely one of my favorite Jeeps from the 2023 SEMA Show.
Mighty Mini Mitsubishi
Did I mention we’re a fan of kei vehicles? This was undoubtedly the most extreme kei vehicle at the 2023 SEMA Show. It’s a 1990 Mitsubishi Minicab built by Shawn Bassett with all of the time-attack goodies bolted to it. According to a video on Larry Chen’s YouTube, it’s still got the stock engine, but will eventually get a turbo Hayabusa engine, naturally. So cool.
The Nasty Nashole
This was one of the first vehicles we saw at the 2023 SEMA Show. Clearly based on a 1957 Nash Metropolitan, the “Nashole” is just a little customized. Massively trimmed front fenders, outboard rear wheels, and a 5.0-liter V8 with dice coming out of the hood is the most Las Vegas thing ever. I love everything about this crazy contraption.
Super Surf Pao
The Nissan Pao is a factory retro ride. But this surf-themed version is absolutely awesome. From the four-spoke wheels to the custom roof rack with surfboards, this Pao is just right.
Perfect Peral Beetle
There’s something about a clean custom VW Bug that always grabs my eye. Despite the fact I’ve never driven an air-cooled Beetle (can you believe that?), I really like them. This pearl-white version with a massive stereo caught my eye. It’s part restomod, part rolling boom box, it has just the right amount of crazy to be crazy-cool.
Super Samurai Diesel
This diesel-powered Suzuki Samurai was located in the Powerstop brakes booth. It was built by Nate from Dirt Lifestyle and looks just super mean. I’d love to wheel this thing! It’s on Unimog axles and has a VW TDI engine under the hood with an upgraded turbo. So rad. It probably goes anywhere.
Protec Work Truck
Vancouver, WA-based Protec makes some really great metal boxes and accessories for work trucks, and this was one cool work truck. Honestly, I don’t know much about it at all other than the fact that it looks totally rad and definitely caught my eye.
Daihatsu Hijet Deckvan
Now that I think about it, I there were quite a few kei trucks at the 2023 SEMA Show. Here was another, located in the Car Cafe, the former location of the Mopar/Jeep booth. This is a Daihatsu Hijet Deckvan and it looks like it’d be a great way to get around in the dirt.
Super German Sprinter
Sprinter vans are a dime a dozen so it takes a really special one to grab my attention. This RRE-Global version started life as a RWD van before being sent to Germany for the full 4WD treatment and buildout. And yes, it’s real 4WD with a t-case and everything. Unlike many “RV body” Sprinters, this one is truly built for full-time traveling on and off the pavement. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but it’s exceptionally well-built and the interior is immaculate.
A ‘Grizzly’ Restomod Ford
Skyjacker is a well-known company in the off-road world. Next year (2024) will be their 50th anniversary, and they went big at SEMA. This retro Ford had just the right amount of old parts and new items to be an attention-getter. And if the truck wasn’t enough …
… there was a bear in the back. And yes, it was nabbed by one of the owners back in the day. Cool truck.
Slammed Frontier Mini Truck
We love mini trucks and Nissan Frontiers. This wrapped red rig ticked all the right boxes. I just hope the guy sitting on it was the owner and not some show schlep. Regardless, this was a rad ride.
Part Pontiac, Part 2023 SEMA Show RV
The SEMA Show is known for some wild rides, and this certainly qualifies. This is what you get when you pair a vintage Pontiac with a classic RV setup. Simply oozing cool, the camper’s interior was all period-correct, too. Can you imagine this pulling up next to you at the campground?
Porsche-Powered VW Caddy
I’ve always wanted a VW Caddy pickup. Part Rabbit, part pickup, these have always interested me. This one is in the weeds, has rad BBS wheels, and a just-right look. I could stare at this thing all day. By the way, it sports a Porsche eng i ne (minor detail).
Crazy-Cool Chevy Wagon
Here’s another wild wagon. Again, I don’t know much about it other than the fact that it’s ultra cool. I believe it’s a 1960 Chevrolet Impala Nomad wagon, but I know it’s amazing.
Van-tastic VW Van
We’re van fans, so when I saw this VW van in the Hoonigan area, I had to snap some pics. Again, I don’t know anything about it really other than I love the look.
A Modern Merkur
Last, and certainly not least, is this custom 1987 Merkur XR4Ti. This beast is powered by a modern Ford Performance 2.3-liter Ecoboost engine mated to a 5-speed Tremec gearbox. This hits all the right retro notes for a modern restomod. And that color—love it.