The 2009 SEMA Show, an annual automotive extravaganza of hot rods, muscle cars and automotive oddities, opened this week in Las Vegas. The show is staged by the Specialty Equipment Market Association, the trade association for makers of aftermarket car parts. In keeping with the times, SEMA will feature a “Making Green Cool Zone” to show off the next generation of aftermarket diesel, hybrid and electric car products.
The green theme doesn’t try to hide the show’s raison d’etre: flaunting unbridled horsepower, unfettered innovation, and outlandish design—from leopard-print seat covers and in-dash personal computers to $200,000 chrome wheels. Here’s our quick sampling of the slightly greener shade of pimped-up souped-up rides.
Nissan Altima “Hot Rod Hybrid”
This Altima started out as a stock hybrid, but has morphed into a racer and test bed for battery maker Braille Battery of Sarasota, FL. With a gutted interior, full roll cage, and racing suspension, brakes, and tires, the supercharged Nissan produces 450 hp and take a quarter mile in 12.9 seconds.
1956 Liquid Propane Ford F100
Built by Steve’s Hot Rods of Marcy, NY, this pickup is powered by a 460-cubic-inch Ford V8 engine fueled by liquid propane, a clean-burning fuel. Builder Steve Hale says horsepower is estimated around 450 ponies.
Replacement for Displacement
Sunshine State Restoration’s Porsche 912 electric conversion produces no carbon emissions. The 4-cylinder gasoline engine is gone and in its place are 85 lithium ion batteries, pushing 310 volts to a 40-horsepower electric motor. Also installed is a 2000-amp computerized controller to manage torque from the motor. SSR estimates 100 miles of range and 100 mph max speed.
Another notable vehicle is a 1985 Chevrolet Blazer Hybrid, outfitted with a 1.0-liter diesel engine and lead-acid battery power. A solar thermal collector on the roof heats water that is then routed to an exhaust gas-driven turbine that powers an auxiliary alternator charge the battery. Additional turbines are mounted on the grille and the Blazer’s shock absorbers. The Progressive Automotive X Prize also has a presence. The group brought 12 vehicles slated to compete in their competition to build a viable 100-mpg car.
Then, there’s the Detroit Street Rods’ latest build, a 1934 Ford and is a joint venture with Ford. An EcoBoost fuel-injected and twin-turbocharged V6 engine is configured for rear-wheel drive, and is coupled with a Tremec five-speed manual transmission. “EcoBoost technology shows that there is a viable replacement for displacement,” said Dan Kapp, director of Ford Powertrain Research and Advanced Engineering.