Hobby rebounds with packed halls at 2010 SEMA Show

'Blue Oval' showed signs of strength
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Hot versions of latest Mustang gave SEMA Show visitors rides around a “drifting” track set up in front of Las Vegas Convention Center.

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Story and photos by John Gunnell

Long lines and smiling faces in the crowded aisles of the 2010 SEMA Show were just some of the indications the economy is picking up steam. One of the most obvious signs of strength came from the “blue oval.”

Ford Motor Co. appeared to be the “50 Pound Gorilla” at the Las Vegas event, which ran from Nov. 1-5. Its influence could be sensed merely approaching the Las Vegas Convention Center, by the roar of engines from a fleet of Mustangs and F-150 pickups driven by attendees given “drifting” or bouncing rides around two side-by-side tracks. The smell of burning rubber could be detected from as far away as the Las Vegas Monorail station.

Inside, Ford covered the gamut of collector interests from a vintage Mustang Boss 302 giveaway car to Edsel Ford’s early Bronco to a fastback Mustang “body in white” that floated above the automaker’s displays like a ghostly apparition. Of particular interest to restorers was a wall of Ford-approved reproduction parts for cars from Model As to Thunderbirds.

Super car superman Ken Lingenfelter is now offering a Trans Am version of
the 2011 Camaro.

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The surprise of the show was the number of customized vintage Lincoln Continentals displayed inside and outside the massive convention center. There was a lavender ’59 convertible and an early-’60s slab-sided four-door wearing sedate maroon paint and poised upon huge “dub”-type tires and wheels. In the SEMA New Products Showcase in the convention center, forward-thinking companies offered parts for these cars. Among those companies was Steele Rubber, which introduced door seals for 1960s Lincolns in the product showcase.

Bob Larivee continued his tradition of running an art show and providing book-signing opportunities. Old Cars Weekly columnist Ken Gross and KP Books author Herbie Martinez were among the writers signing their newest titles. Meanwhile, artist Ken Eberts was overseeing the exhibiting artists.

Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop built a gorgeous ’32 Ford Phaeton nicknamed the

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On Wednesday, the Brenner family from Ohio Technical College announced that the Cleveland-based school was teaming up with hot rodding legend Vic Edelbrock to form the Edelbrock University to educate budding young hot rodders.

“We are excited to partner with Ohio Technical College and help prepare the next generation of automotive technicians who will lead our industry into the future,” said Vic Edelbrock, chairman of Edelbrock, LLC. “Having worked with OTC on numerous automotive challenges at the SEMA Show and other events, we appreciate the school’s commitment to today’s youth.”

The OTC students are also building a full-size version of Hot Wheels’ bright red Vic Edelbrock ’57 Chevy Bel Air hardtop. Who said that school wasn’t fun?

Detroit-based designer Dave Rossi is offering his Rossi Sixty-Six “Split-Window”
Corvette for the C6 ’Vette chassis.

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Auto Meter gauges (www.autometer.com) used the SEMA Show to launch a new “Winning Ride” contest through its website that will select one car for display in its SEMA Show exhibit in 2011. The contest will pit east against west; old car against new car; muscle car against sports car; and truck against minivan. The winner will also get a trip to the next SEMA Show.

“We want to reach people with cars they are passionate about and share with their friends,” said Auto Meter’s director of social media Joseph Mills. “At the same time, it gives us the benefit of finding, hopefully, America’s big winning ride of 2011.”

In addition to the personalities and the cars, the SEMA Show remains the best one-stop place for the latest and greatest parts for vintage vehicles and modern enthusiast vehicles. For highlights on the parts displayed at the 2010 SEMA Show, watch upcoming issues of Old Cars Weekly.

The parade of cars at the end of the 2010 SEMA Show featured “King of the
Kustomizers” George Barris guiding the original Batmobile to the exit.

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