The 2017 SEMA show in Las Vegas was filled with large chrome wheels, colorful wraps, and all the outrageous builds we have come to expect each year. The show is an overwhelming experience for any gearhead and requires several days, along with a marathon’s worth of walking, to truly take it all in. 

This year, a clear theme of “Old Meets New” emerged as many significant vehicles of the show combined classic design cues with the latest in modern technology. We wanted to highlight a few of these “restomods” and explore vehicles that blend the future and the past.

Hellcat in a Box

The supercharged Hellcat HEMI engine is no stranger to most automotive enthusiasts as it creates a tire-smoking 707 horsepower in both the Dodge Challenger, Charger, and now Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. But the folks at Mopar Performance Parts didn’t want to stop there. The 2017 SEMA show marks the debut of the new “Hellcrate” HEMI crate motor that can be dropped in any classic or modern project vehicle. The cost of the motor with an available plug-and-play engine management setup is around $23,000 but includes a 3-year / unlimited mile warranty.

Mark Worman, star of Velocity's Graveyard Carz, helped debut the Hellcrate inside of a bright green 1970 Plymouth Superbird tribute car. We say “tribute” because Mark told the crowd that he would never remove the original 426 HEMI from an actual Superbird and instead created a Superbird look-alike from a normal Road Runner. Sometimes, blending old and new has its limits.

Topless Cadi Shows Off Modern Interior

Upon first approach, this beautiful blue Cadillac looks like any other candy-coated classic restoration. However, the top is chopped off of this 1962 Coupe DeVille for a reason and the interior adds a bit of technology to this custom cruiser. Jon Nyberg at Rides by Jon took components from a 2015 Cadillac CTS and transplanted it into the interior of this unique project. The result is nothing short of stunning as the brown leather with modern gauges, buttons, and steering wheel offer modern comforts without sacrificing style. Under the hood, the supercharged 6.2L LSA crate motor from GM adds some young legs to an old runner.

Classic Mustang Gets a Facelift

While many purists will cry foul, the folks at Vintage Fabrication wanted to create a very distinct design for their Mustang-based Archer FX520. In a quest to create the ultimate performance and luxury Mustang, they took the front section of a 2010-14 Mustang and combined it with a classic 1969 body.

The SEMA vehicle was number “001” of only 20 special models to be produced and includes a Jon Kaase Racing built 520 cu in Boss engine that produces 700 horsepower. The custom racing frame underneath the vehicle is even rated for speeds over 200 miles per hour!

Chevy Trucks Celebrates 100 Years

Chevrolet combined both old and new to help celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Chevrolet Trucks. In honor of the Centennial, Chevrolet displayed a restored 1967 Chevrolet C/10 truck alongside a 2018 Centennial Edition Chevrolet Colorado. Both vehicles feature a classic-style Chevrolet bowtie up front, the same “Centennial Blue” exterior color, and “Chevrolet 100 Years” badge on the fenders. This particular blend of different generations shows the progress that Chevrolet has made and pays tribute to the rich history of trucks from the brand.

A Menacing Classic

What do you get when you blend the style of a modern supercar with a classic Corvette? The folks at Heartland Customs decided to have a go at it with a 1972 Corvette creation they are calling the “Menace.” They looked to modern European sports cars for inspiration to design the elaborate interior and exterior components. Inside you’ll find stitched racing seats, carbon fiber trim, and gauges that look like they were plucked straight out of a modern Ferrari.

The car also includes some truly impressive performance parts to back up all of the sporty design components. Under the hood is a supercharged 7.0L LS7 crate engine, tuned to a whopping 860 horsepower. This is one of the slickest C3 Corvettes we have ever seen and is a great merging of classic design with modern European style.

Making Old Look Even Older

While most project vehicles at SEMA tried to add some modern inspiration to classic cars, several made a shift in the opposite direction. The trend of adding a “patina” or rust effect to classic cars has also continued to grow. 

Project “Dung Beetle” was built by the Rancho Performance team and features a (simulated) rust covered paint scheme on top of a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle. While this vehicle may look quite derelict on the outside, it is far from abandoned. The car is powered by a built VW flat-four with a Turbonetics T3/T4 turbocharger that should surprise anyone that is quick to judge the looks of this tiny racer.

Right out front of the SEMA 2017 we found another classic vehicle that looks to have been left out on the farm. Stoner’s Speed Shop created this stunning 1958 Chevrolet Apache Cameo truck and deemed it the “Slameo” due to the lowered suspension. The work to create this patina on the exterior is perfect and it is difficult at first glance to tell that it has been artificially aged. The builders even simulated an older “McGuyre Chevrolet” dealership badge that has deteriorated over time on the rear tailgate.                                               

Overall, the 2017 SEMA show offered a wide variety of amazing project vehicles that should inspire any gearhead - whether you want your car to look new, old, or even older. Advancements in the automotive aftermarket industry have made it much easier to connect components from late model vehicles to the classics we love without extensive customization. This year’s hottest SEMA car could feature an updated motor, interior, or electronics that find their way into your next project.

Image Credit: Nolan Browning

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