SEMA Show 2018 sneak preview – COPO Camaro and more

Here's a quick look at some of the wild rides that caught our eye today in Las Vegas

Photographers: Alastair Ritchie

THE 2018 SEMA Show kicks off tomorrow, at the Las Vegas Convention Centre. The show itself is still coming together, but it is already a hive of activity. We were there early to take part in the Global New Products Awards program, but we found time to run around and grab some shots.

The very first car we saw was Max Grundy’s ’60 Chrysler, recently-chopped by Aussie Justin Hills. It is simply awesome and accompanied by an equally-awesome 1959 Fleetform boat.

 Love them or hate them, Welderup’s diesel-powered rat rods always turn heads.

But if that isn’t wild enough for you, how about this real-life Hot Wheels car designed by Tony Batterson and built by AJ Bohatta. Dubbed Medieval 1, it is chock-full of crazy ideas, such as the cobra snake headers!

A cool feature of the show is the Monday SEMA Vehicle Reveal, which also serves as an exhibitor appreciation party. SEMA put on dinner and drinks, provided a killer band and brought a handful of new builds up on stage for us to ogle. Among them was this killer Corvette built by Dave Kindig. 

Chip Foose was building a Jaguar for SEMA, but when some parts he was waiting on failed to show, pulled the pin and moved onto this sweet ’57 ragtop instead. Built for customer Mike Malone, it features some sharpened body lines, a Roadster Shop Chassis, vintage-dressed LS powerplant and one-off rims that mimic the stock hubcaps. The whole build was completed in 10 weeks! 

Chevrolet Performance used the Vehicle Reveal to launch their 2019 COPO Camaro, built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the concept. Only 69 will be built, with a choice of three powerplants – a 427-cube LSX, a blown 350-cuber or a 302. The cars are ready to run in NHRA Stock or Stock Eliminator. We can confirm that it looks awesome in the flesh and sounds great. 

Chev also brought out a genuine and super-rare 1969 COPO Camaro, complete with aluminum 427-cube big block. Drool!

And, Chev also debuted the eCOPO concept car. Based on a 2019 COPO Camaro prototype, it has been turned electric by Hancock & Lane Racing, with input from Patrick McCue – a teacher from the Seattle area who uses electric drag racing as a way to get kids interested in STEM subjects. Twin Borg Warner motors hook up to a regular Turbo 400, producing 600ft/lb between them. The team is hoping the eCOPO will slip into the 9-second zone. 

Another electric car that is going to cause a lot of talk is this ’49 Mercury, built by Jonathan Ward’s ICON company and Stealth EV. The Mercury will make around 700 horsepower and run without a gearbox. A lot of thought has gone into making the motor look cool, so we’re looking forward to checking it out tomorrow!

The Cheetah was a tres-cool American sports car of the 1960s and this one is even cooler as it features an Aussie-built V12 LS motor! We love the heavy speedboat-style flake, too. 

Yep, that is a 1964 Volvo Amazon 122. They are cool little cars and make great customs. But this one is fast too – running a Cummins R2.8 turbo diesel engine mated to a Tremec TR606 six-speed! 

How’s this for the ultimate Corvette mashup – a ’59 powered by a quad-cam LT5 engine that powered the ZR-1 Corvettes from 1990 to 1995. The engine was designed by Lotus and built by Mercury Marine.

More tomorrow!