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The 2008 SEMA Show

The 2008 SEMA Expo


Gas prices got you down? Did your favorite presidential candidate lose the election? Is the economy stressing your budget? Let’s fact it folks, these are tough times. We do though, still have the great outdoors to explore and the great thing about the trail is that it doesn’t care about how much value your 401K has lost and hopefully you can still find some time to turn a wrench on your rig and get out there.

If you are looking for parts to upgrade your rig, SEMA is the place to be. And, like previous years, the city of Lost Wages hosts the largest gathering of aftermarket manufacturers known to man. You could literally build a hundred world class rock crawlers, tow rigs and other off-road machines from scratch with the parts on display at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Unfortunately SEMA isn’t open to the public, but we’ve got backstage passes and through the magic of the Internet we have compressed more than three million square feet of parts and accessories into a package small enough to fit on your computer screen – cool.

Concerns about the economy were apparent this year though and the theme of the SEMA show seemed to be reinvestment and improvement into existing products. A lot of manufacturers are feeling the pinch of shrinking budgets and a scant few were willing to risk the huge expense of releasing new products into a marketplace full of cash-strapped consumers. As a result, the innovation quotient of the show was down over previous years. Last year there were so many cool new products that we ran out of time before we ran out of things to see. As the show wound down this year, however, we were scratching our heads and wondering why we had so much time to spare. 

That doesn’t mean the show was a bust, however. On the contrary there were still plenty of new goodies, and more than enough improved ones to help you continue to build you’re your rig. 

One thing we did note though, is the complete lack of tube buggies that were present. They were replaced with capable trail rigs, almost exclusively based upon the Jeep JK platform. Does this mean we’re seeing a major market shift with trail rigs becoming the king of the 4X4 industry? Read on, and you decide.

P.S. Don’t miss our coverage of the 2008 Girls of SEMA.

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Bestop www.bestop.com
Bestop was on hand showing off several new soft tops for the Jeep TJ and JK, in a fastback model. Also on hand were their new HighRock bumpers that were modified to allow for greater off-road clearance. They were also sporting their new Element doors that they are carrying for the UTV line, and re-showing off the Bestop rack and tonneau system for pickups.
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Toyota www.toyota.com
Toyota’s highlights for the 4X4 and truck segment were clearly focused on the Tundra. They showed a few variations, including this unique Ducati version which housed an integrated and innovative tool-box bedside, and a loading/storage system.
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Daystar www.daystarweb.com
Daystar wins our “Booth of the Year” award, for sure. They flipped a Jeep on its lid, which really helped to draw the crowds. Since we’re giving out virtual awards, Daystar is also worthy of the “Reinvent Thyself” award too. Once known only for their high-quality polyurethane bushings, Daystar now manufactures and sells a variety of off-road products. Below are a few of the noteworthy ones, such as their new Jeep JK switch packs and console inserts. You can also see their line of D-Ring isolators, polyurethane-roller winch fairleads for synthetic winch ropes and more.
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Skyjacker www.skyjacker.com
Skyjacker’s highlight for the show was their well-designed suspension system for the all-new 2009 Ford F150. They also had a nifty little R/C car on hand that was doing a little rock-crawling too.
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ARB www.arbusa.com
ARB’s wares included a nice display of a few of their ARB air lockers, including their new Rockwell 2 1/2 ton axle air locker, which has been all the rage. Their new(er) snatch blocks were also on hand for the onlookers to check out their tried-n-true HD snatch block as well as their synthetic-rope compatable snatchblock. The folks from down under also brough a very cool over-top tent/camping system.
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Maxxis Tires www.maxxis.com
Inside the beautiful Maxxis booth, we found a series of new tires available for both the ATV/UTV and 4-wheel drive owners. First on deck was their Bighorn and Bighorn 2.0 tires. The standard Bighorns didn’t change too much, but the new Bighorn 2.0 tires are several pounds lighter, which is beneficial for those ATV/UTV’ers that are looking for some weight savings. Next up on deck were their new Trepador Mud Terrain 4X4 tires now available in both a bias-ply and radial for the discerning off-roader. We also spied a new version of their Bravo series AT tire.
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Jeep www.jeep.com
Jeep was showing off a few of their new and prototype rigs, as well as a few of their specialty rigs that are not available for sale in the U.S. – bummer! Check out the 2008 Jeep Liberty Limited Rubicon “Liberator II” (that’s a mouthful) rig, as well as their over-seas-only military Jeep JK.
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