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Roadfly Magazine
Detroit Auto Show, CES & Las Vegas Show, BMW 760, CTS-V and Jeep Reviews
Issue Fifteen
January 26, 2005
2005 Detroit Auto Show
2005 Detroit Auto Show Photo Gallery
2005 Detroit Auto Show Awards
Best of Show: Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Best Buy: Toyota Avalon
Best Concept: Ford Shelby GR-1
Best New Vehicle for 2005: Ford Mustang GT
Most Innovative: General Motors Sequel

2005 CES Show From Las Vegas
2005 LA Auto Show
Fall 2004 SEMA Show from Vegas
BMW 760
Cadillac CTS-V
Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited
Coming Next Issue
Chip Foose
VW Phaeton W12
Long Term Storage
Ultimate Ears

SEMA 2004:
Vegas Shines High Beams On The Future (continued)

MINI Mania's Ultrik Upgrade

Plenty of bling at the 2004 SEMA Show

This 2005 Rolls Royce was treated to a few extra goodies

Overland camper on a really big 4x4 at SEMA

Go to
2004 SEMA Show
Photo Gallery
Official Web site:
Sprinkled over two million square feet of show space were a sparkle of Bentley Continental Coupes. The Bentley really is "all-new," now independent of Rolls Royce. Bentley Coupes are back-ordered. Hard to imagine that at over $160k. Well, that didn't stop a bunch of wheel and aftermarket companies from "improving" them. I know most American men think that "pave" is something you do to your driveway every couple of years, but I saw diamond dust "pave" wheels, other wheels that looked like they'd rolled off the set of Blade "Trinity" and even wood finishes, from Asanti, such as "Black Zabrano" and "Walnut Burlwood". I was disappointed that "Knotty Pine" didn't make the cut. That said, if you couldn't find a wheel you liked at SEMA, than you weren't really looking.

On the other end of the budget is the big hit from BMW: the really truly all-new Mini. It's very strange that the company that couldn't (or wouldn't) make the business case to resurrect the legendary classic BMW 2002 for the 2002 anniversary model year have a hit with the Mini, purchased by exactly the same people who would have bought a new BMW 2002 (don't write me about the 1 Series or 2 Series, talk is cheap).

What's great about the Mini, aside from style and the sheer fun it puts back into driving is that, like the original Mini and 2002, it is born to be improved without going broke. Mini-Mania in California certainly think so, with their new line of Ultrik aftermarket upgrades ranging from limited slip differentials to superchargers and more. For around $5k you can get a stage III 245 horsepower howler that will scare the paint off those snotty Porsche owners in your neighborhood. All I ask is that you also upgrade the brakes and suspension to match whatever power you add. And a day at driving school won't kill you.

Other trends at SEMA that will be affecting OEM cars for years to come? Mobile electronics, for sure, with flip-down DVD screens installed in leather surrounds everywhere short of the middle of your steering wheel. Most companies are selling the technology itself, which is probably a mistake as the technological differentiation is not that great, and will quickly commodify. Some, like Rosen Entertainment, for example, actually understand that they're selling entertainment, with mobility as the feature. Though I'm not so sure I want to merge with a guy watching "The Fast And The Furious" on the 101.

In broader terms there's a ton of stuff you can do to individualize your ride is coming down the ramp - from the Freedom Grill BBQ that attaches to your bumper, to ramps so that your pet wolverine can easily join you in your monster truck. All kinds of billet add-ons from Strut's car jewelry to any "go-faster" that American ingenuity can conceive.

All this is a good thing. We're entering 2005 having survived the tyranny of the wind tunnel, and if the corporate bean-counters had their way (those guys that query every little thing on your expense report, like that toilet paper you bought when the client got a nose bleed) we'd all be driving really boring cars. I mean, does anyone actually need chrome besides NASA?

The final reason that SEMA is important is as a barometer of the economy for the year ahead. The excitement and enthusiasm of 100,000 SEMA attendees (yes, I spoke to each individually) bodes well for our economy. People are optimistic and ready to have some fun with their rides in 2005 as opposed to just being in survival mode.

In a town with slot machines in the elevators and Roman Centurions schlepping cocktails, the fact that SEMA grabbed everyone's focus is a good thing. Happy New Year.

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