Smoking hot cars for SEMA Day 4

The Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show (SEMA) in Las Vegas, Nevada is held over four days in the first week of November. Even then, there’s no way to see everything the event has to offer.

Rummaging through the hundreds of modified vehicles many of the over 2,400 exhibitors have on display, even on the closing day, sees quality still on the forefront at many booths.

Subaru Impreza WRX STI

As a wheel company, how do you get attention to your rims? Put them on a smoking hot car. However, like perfume, the original aim can easily be overpowered and that’s what happened here.

The STI used to be the face of the import performance crowd, but with its main rival the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution long out of production, it’s been rather lonely at the top of the four-wheel-drive turbocharged Japanese four-door sedan chart.

The original intent may have been to highlight the wheels, but the Varis bodykit on this Subaru Impreza WRX STI overshadows everything else.

Mackin industries opted for the STI to show off its Advan Racing RS III rims, but excuse us if we ignore the cool race-inspired wheels for the insane Varis body kit. Before Liberty Walk, before TRA-KYOTO, before Rocket Bunny, Varis were the Japanese kings of width extension.

The kit on the STI shows they haven’t given the business up to the newcomers, shoving wider arches, every visual aero design trick and material up their sleeves makes the STI look like it fell right off the race track.

Toyota Corolla AE86

Flawless execution is plentiful at SEMA, so things have to go up a notch to stand out at times. The Turn 14 Distribution AE86R is that ‘up a notch’ moment. Developed in conjunction with 2011 Formula Drift Champion Dai Yoshihara, this car blends old and new.

The classic Toyota AE86 chassis has been refreshed and enhanced for competition and had a one-off widebody kit from TRA-KYOTO, the Japanese masters of adding width to anything, grafted onto it.

Why is it here? Simple, it’s the first AE86 with a Honda Civic Type R K20C1 engine swap.

Under the wider wheel arches are 15-inch BBS Motorsport wheels tucked in by 3-way coil-overs from KW Suspensions. Looks don’t go a long way at SEMA. This beauty is skin deep as it’s easy to mistake the motor in the exposed engine bay for a 3S-GTE, Toyota’s 2-litre turbocharged powerplant.

Putting the AE86R in rarefied air is the reality available to those with keen eyes. This Toyota is powered by Honda. Those expecting the common F-series swap from an S2000 will doubletake as the motor is actually from the current generation Civic Type R, marking it as the first-ever swap of the K20C1 engine into the AE86.


It’s easy to get jaded at SEMA, rolling through one supercar after another. That’s where this BMW M1 came in. Sitting at the booth of German suspension gurus H&R, this is one of 453 ever built during the car’s production run from 1978 to 1981.

Supercar, one of 453 made, the only one at the SEMA.

The low production number alone makes it special in its own right, but drape it in the Procar Championship colours, the one-make racing series created to promote the M1, and that raises it to another level. It makes the top three because there was nothing else like it at the show.