SEMA is the Specialty Equipment Market Association, though to understand its true flavour you might be interested to learn that its original name was the Speed Equipment Manufacturing Association, though in 1970 it was decided that was just a little less than PC. Every year SEMA holds a trade show in Las Vegas and it attracts around 60,000 visitors. There are several thousand cars on display as well as several thousands of specialist tools and components. Unfortunately it isn’t open to the general public, you have to be a SEMA member to attend.
The SEMA show will be held in the Las Vegas convention centre from the 5th to the 8th November. This year it is on track to have a record number of exhibitors, over 2,500 are expected to attend.
The show addresses many different aspects of the automotive after sales business. These include things to make cars go faster and sound louder, typical boy racer stuff, but there is also a great deal of attention paid to making vehicles safer and more convenient. However you can’t quite take the street racer image away, especially as one of the stars of the show is the Dodge Challenger that featured in the Fast and the Furious, the 2001 movie that was the box office number one grossing over $40 million in the first weekend of its release.
The show’s emphasis is on networking. Delegates from over 130 different countries will attend, and most of them are small business owners so there should be no difficulty in getting together and finding new ways of collaborating and new market opportunities. And the Las Vegas venue means there is plenty of opportunity for having some fun, the casinos are anticipating plenty of trade as the delegates won’t be spending much time in their rooms playing slots games like “Granny Prix” or Avalon II slots. There are also a number of short courses and seminars on various aspects of the industry and its markets.
I’ve had questions from different people how we filmed the latest How We Found an Old Corvette in the Middle of the Forest (2013) video. Well, we mostly used the Canon 5D Mark II as the camera with a couple of Canon professional zoom lenses, 28mm Prinzflex classic lens, 55 mm Takumar F1.4 classic lens and a rather old Carl Zeiss zoom lens, I believe it was 18-55 or so. We also used an electric camera slider and a professional tripod with a pretty OK Manfrotto video head. We recorded all the audio with Rode VideoMic but we didn’t pay too much attention to the audio recording and therefore the quality is as it is :) The outside shots and driveby shots were filmed with the Manfrotto video head attached to a specially welded metal rack (thanks to my friend Tanel) which was all attached to my Chevy Suburban. The Suburban allows you to lower the rear glasses fully down and therefore it’s quite easy to work out of these windows. I also love how the soft suspension of the truck and its weight kind of stabilize the shots on rough roads.
Here’s a photo of the setup installed to the Suburban:
I’ so sorry I have been so lazy lately with the posting but what can I say – life is busy and there’s always something that comes up when I’m planning to write an article here. However, here I am now with my new article :) The time has come again when we have acquired a new car. I haven’t sold anything because I’m a lousy car seller and I just want to collect all the cars I’ve bought. People say I’m a bit crazy but what can I do, I love cars and I don’t care what people say…
So we bought a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. It’s a fantastic car in many ways. I didn’t know much about the car before my friend who owns a dealership brought one in from Greece and let me test drive it. That is simply an amazing machine. I kinda fell in love with the car on the first sight and although I never planned to buy it in the first place I always kinda admired it in the showroom. Suddenly we had a need for another and newer car and here we are with the SRT8. We were firstly thinking about the brand new Jeeps like Cherokees but ofcourse the SRT8 is superior to these except the year number :)
What is a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8?
It’s a Grand Cherokee based on the regular WK Jeep model sharing its body and many interior components. However, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. When the SRT team got the Jeep to play around with it and think of the possibilities, they soon saw its potential. They were thrilled with the 4 wheel drive advantages and the rather compact size of the vehicle making it possible to build a sort of a race truck out of it. They lowered the Jeep by several inches for lower center of gravity, changed and added several body components for a better look and improved aerodynamics, removed the roof racks and most importantly, installed the 6.1 HEMI into it! The engine is a 425 hp (317 kW) and 570 Nm (420 ft-lbs) beast with a forged crankshaft, very strong rods and forged pistons, an aluminum intake and ofcourse the newer more complex Hemi heads. These power numbers are easily achieved with this engine and it has got a lot more potential even without loosing too much durability. The truck sports a 5-speed Mercedes automatic transmission capable of handling even much higher power outputs, a modified 4WD transfer case to handle the power, stronger driveshaft and a high power capable Dana 44 rear axle. There are several SRT brand components added to the interior like the instrument cluster with a 180 mph (290 km/h) speedometer with an SRT badge, sport seats in the front and more.
The Jeep runs from 0-60 in just around 4.7 seconds thanks to the 4WD traction and is able to achieve 270 km/h when it gets limited by RPM due to the lack of gears and rear axle ratio.
What do I think about the car?
I have only driven it a couple of weeks now and I must say I haven’t had so much fun in a long time. When you power up the car the seat moves to your saved memory position, the cluster lights come on and an SRT8 badge is shown on the speedometer display. You start up the engine and hear a momentary roar from the back when the beast wakes up. When cold, the engine firstly runs at around 1300-1500 RPM and starts to slow down to around 1000. You may hear several gongs from the warning system if you haven’t fastened the seatbelt beforehand, have issues with tire pressures and have a message from the navigation system for example. The gong-fest is really a noticeable part of the startup sometimes, I must admit! However, once it’s quiet again with just the engine humming, the climate control starts to make it comfortable inside for all the riders and pulling the rather robust feeling gear handle to Drive the gear smoothly engages and off you go.
It is possible to monitor both the oil pressure and oil temperature from the speedometer display and I always tend to wait till the oil reaches at least 50 degrees C before laying my heavy right foot to the pedal. The car is very sensitive on the accelerator pedal and it’s easy to make a rear wheel spin unintentionally when taking off from a stop light. However, if you really floor it from a stoplight the fun begins immediately! The way this truck shoots itself off from a halt especially when stalling a bit is simply undiscribeable. People say they haven’t felt such a thing in any other car before. You are momentarily pushed to the seat and it’s easy to make girls scream doing that :) The truck firstly tries to run pretty much full power on the rear axle and once that usually fails, it engages the front axle very quickly to compensate on the traction department. You reach illegal speeds before you know it and it’s therefore understandable why many SRT8 owners find a police radar spotter useful. I don’t use one since the police here can spot it and it’s illegal.
The Jeep handles extremely well for a car of such nature and certainly handles much better than many modern and expensive road cars with regular suspension. Our car has the popular modification of 275 tires in the front and 315 in the back. This certainly improves the driveability under high power and on curvy roads. It all comes at the expense of smooth steering wheel feel because the truck plays around even on a slightly worn out road. I haven’t really tested the stopping power but the Brembo 4-cylinders-per-caliper brakes are said to be well capable of bringing this truck to a stop as quickly as you need it.
All the fun ofcourse comes with a rather bad fuel economy and I am averaging around 20 liters per 100 km in the city (11.8 mpg) and 14 l/100 km (16.8 mpg) on highway. It’s easy to forget about your money and drive around stopping at, let’s just say, too many gas stations :) Fortunately our Jeep has an LPG gas burning system installed and once we replace the reducer and injectors I will be able to drive the truck at least 30-40% cheaper.
The Jeep is immensely fun to drive and it’s also a bit dangerous since it’s simply to loose the feeling of reality in the comfortable and cosy interior. Driving this car is pretty much like driving in a computer game – just like most modern sportscars. I would say the experience is a lot different compared to my Corvette which has a lot of power but you are always in control and know exactly what’s gonna happen the next moment. The Jeep decides a lot on its own and therefore needs to be driven very carefully. It’s easy to build up the adrenaline in yourself driving this car and to forget about the traffic rules.
We are certainly going to make a video of this Jeep and I’ll try to show some of its more remarkable features together with its engine sound and all.
Here’s a new video of my Corvette’s engine sound! The old 350 engine on the Vette pretty much died a year ago… We built this brand new 383 Stroker onto the Corvette last Winter and it has only been driven this Summer. It’s still a work in progress engine meaning that I need to fine tune it and tweak a lot of carb related things. The engine consists of 750 cfm Q-Jet carb (will be replaced), Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, AFR 195 cc Street Eliminator heads, Scorpion roller rocker arms, Comp Cams XE274H cam, CP Carrillo forged pistons, Scat crank and rods. The exhaust is pretty much straight pipes, Hooker ceramic full headers going to 3″ pipes, then 2.5″, x-pipe, small DynaFlow “resonators” and out from the sides. It’s really loud and I will be tweaking it over the winter… :)