Off-Road Adventure at the 2019 SEMA Show [GALLERY]
It seems year after year, off-road rigs turn out in bigger numbers at the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas. And perhaps one the fastest growing segments is the adventure and overland vehicles that are built for the show. But this isn't a fluke or a trend; it's exactly what the market wants. As the OEM's continue to promote off-road ready trucks and SUVs from the factory, support from the aftermarket has undoubtedly soared in the same direction. Certainly overland and off-road capable rigs have been shown at SEMA for many years, but their numbers have grown exponentially in recent years, much thanks to the exploding aftermarket support. Off-Road companies who were once known for presenting hardcore rock crawlers and championship-winning race trucks in their SEMA booths have traded them in for milder, more attainable vehicles featuring parts designed to be both practical and aesthetically pleasing to newer platforms such as the Jeep Gladiator or Toyota Tacoma.
Almost overwhelmingly, the Jeep Gladiator was the platform of choice for many booths in the off-road sections of the show. Even though the first Gladiators began shipping from Jeep in the early summer, many of the builds we saw had some pretty extraordinary modifications done to them. Everything from bed racks, roof top tents, long arm suspension systems, coilover conversions, 40-inch tires, one-ton axles, and even a few V8 swaps were present in Gladiators around the show. It quickly became clear that the Gladiator had finally bridged the gap between the rock crawlers and overlanders, being such a versatile and easily modified vehicle. Builders who have long specialized in Jeep customization took to the Gladiator with ease, and their experience was evident in their builds. One such rig was found in the Rock Slide Engineering booth, showing off their beefy, and extremely useful step sliders. This Gladiator, dubbed Iron Man JT, built by Rebel Off-Road featured some of the best parts currently available to the platform.
Perhaps one of the more interesting new trends we found at the 2019 SEMA show was the highlighting of overland and off-road builds in booths that historically had no direct ties to outdoor adventures. For example, this fully-kitted Colorado Z71 was featured in the Gentex Corporation booth, located far from any other off-road booths. Gentex Corporation is a global technology company that provides products for the automotive and aerospace industries, such as blind zone cameras, lighting, and driver assist systems. Finding an overland-built Colorado in their booth made a statement that the future of the auto industry responds to builds like these.
However, SEMA has always been a world stage for builders and fabricators. While the bolt-on builds have taken over many of the halls, there's still some home-built diamonds to be found scattered about the show. One such vehicle was brought all the way from Lincolntown, North Carolina, to make its debut appearance after a two-year build process. Tim Odell, owner of Vice Unlimited, finished his turbocharged, LS-swapped, Diamond-T IFS Ultra4 project just weeks before hitting the road for SEMA. Each part of this build was carefully handcrafted by Tim. The quality of the workmanship and creativity is endless in this vehicle. We can't wait to see what Tim does with this ultra-unique Ultra4 build!
Although SEMA builds used to be nothing more than show vehicles, the off-road world has shaken the norms of this show to its core. The halls of SEMA are now filled with hundreds of vehicles that you can find out in the dirt on any given weekend, being used to their full potential. As the outdoor lifestyle and off-roading continues to pick up steam, companies who support the enthusiasts are doing everything they can to keep up with the demand. In fact, it may be time for an off-road only SEMA show, because we don't anticipate this trend going anywhere anytime soon.
Click through the gallery below to see some of the best off-road and overland rigs at the show this year!