Detroit 3 break out the big guns for SEMA

Michael Wayland, and Melissa Burden

Detroit automakers are driving into the 2016 Specialty Equipment Market Association Show in Las Vegas with a host of custom vehicles: A Dodge Durango equipped with a shaker hood and 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine. A Chevy Colorado Z71 concept truck outfitted for surfers through a partnership with Hurley. And a licensed-reproduction 1966 Shelby GT350 concept by Revology Cars.

The Durango Shaker — one of six vehicles Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will unveil Tuesday at the popular aftermarket show — is a functional concept that the automaker could eventually offer for the mainstream performance brand.

“I love the Durango with the shaker,” said Pietro Gorlier, FCA global head of parts and service (Mopar) during a recent media unveiling of the vehicles ahead of SEMA. “I think it is so, so Dodge … and it is also perhaps something that is the closest thing to a vehicle we could do, outside of the (customized) Pacifica.”

The B5 Blue three-row SUV features large performance brakes and rotors, concept satin-black 22-inch wheels and has been lowered 3 inches. The cross-hair grille was replaced with a SRT-inspired open grille for better air flow.

The SUV also features a custom interior to match the exterior, as well as three rows of performance racing seats borrowed from the Dodge Viper.

“You’ve got to test the market,” Todd Beddick, Mopar head of accessories & performance portfolio. “Who knows what’s going to happen. We’re going to take them out there, we’re going to see what happens — see what kind of feedback we get.”

Chevrolet will show more than 20 vehicles at SEMA, which runs Tuesday through Friday.

The Colorado Z71 Hurley Concept is aimed to meet the demands of a surfer, said Jessica Rogers, marketing and advertising manager for the Colorado. Chevy teamed up to partner with Costa Mesa, California-based Hurley, which helped Chevy to “understand the surf culture in Southern California,” where many midsize pickups are sold, Rogers said.

The modified Colorado has a matte seafoam-green exterior and a custom surfboard rack, two-tiered storage, a rack to dry a wetsuit, and water-resistant seat covers. Because surfers don’t have a place to pocket car keys, the companies offered a solution to wave a wrist device to unlock the truck.

“When we discussed the project with Chevrolet, we didn’t want just a truck with our logo on it,” Ryan Hurley, creative director for Hurley, said in a statement. “It had to offer solutions for the challenges surfers face at remote locations and that’s exactly what it delivers.”

Ford Motor Co. plans to show more than 50 customized vehicles, including several Mustangs. The reproduction 1966 Shelby GT350 concept is equipped with an electronic gauge cluster, LED lighting, navigation, Bluetooth and voice recognition.

Ford also is showing several brawny and ultra powerful F-150s, Fusion Sport, Fiesta and Focus concepts including a 2016 Focus RS Roush performance version and a special version of the F-150 Raptor. It will highlight several versions of the Super Duty pickups including a 2017 Ford F-350 Matchbox Police truck by Skyjacker Suspensions and its Transit van. Among the highlights is a 2016 Ford Transit van with the looks of a 1976 Ford Econoline concept and a Transit 350 with a mobile stage by artist Good Boy Daisy.

‘Beer wagon’ on tap

Other concepts vehicles being unveiled by Fiat Chrysler include a Ram Promaster “beer wagon” that features functioning beer taps with a serving bar on the side; a souped-up Ram Power Wagon; a paddle-board enthusiast Chrysler Pacifica minivan; and a modernized classic Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Challenger.

The Dodge Shakedown Challenger started as a 1971 Challenger. Designers added styling cues from the 2017 model, including custom front headlamps and tail lamps. It sports a heritage-inspired 1971 shaker hood scoop.

Jeep’s CJ66 concept is the Frankenstein of Jeeps. Designers took a Wrangler TJ frame (used from 1997-2006) and matched it with a 1966 Jeep Wrangler CJ universal Tuxedo Park body and modern touches of the 2017 model.

Feedback determines future

Chevy is bringing its 2017 Silverado HD Carhartt Concept. It also will feature a Malibu and a Cruze RS hatchback Blue Line with a white exterior accented with blue-tinted windows and slate-blue metallic wheels.

There will be a Silverado HD Alaskan truck; a Camaro AutoX that’s aimed as an entry into autocross racing; and a limited-production drag-racing COPO Concept.

Other concepts include the Camaro Slammer and Chevelle Slammer, which are described as “brothers.” The black Chevelle Slammer is based on a 1969 Chevelle but has a modern take including reduced bumpers, a dramatic red interior, performance brakes and a new LT376/535 crate engine that puts out 535 horsepower.

Chevrolet uses feedback from SEMA and other events to help the carmaker decide which parts, accessories and concept vehicles might be introduced to customers, said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. Several past SEMA concepts have been offered to customers.