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More than Meets the Eye

Jef White is the executive editor of THE SHOP magazine.

As we prepare to head off to Las Vegas for another Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, it’s often difficult to convince the people we leave behind that we’re actually going on a business trip, and not just enjoying what can seem like the world’s largest car show.

That’s not surprising, considering the photos and video from SEMA and AAPEX always focus on the many incredible project vehicles that line the aisles, booth and entryways to the exhibit halls.

I’ve often said that it’s too bad there’s so much work to be done at the shows in the midst of all these incredible machines. It’s one of the reasons why we began including an annual roundup of the great cars, trucks and competition vehicles annually unveiled in Vegas in our November issue—to offer a sneak peek at what you may be missing as you hurry from meeting to seminar to networking function each day.

The November issue of Performance Business magazine, out now, includes 25 of the coolest vehicles headed out to the shows. (As usual, I received information on many more projects than I had room for. So, as was the case last year, I plan to follow up with a Part II in the January 2013 edition.)

What these previews show is the incredible amount of teamwork, ingenuity and talent required to take a batch of individual parts and create an integrated package that makes a unique statement. In just about every case, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the backstory of these beautiful machines.

So, as you pass car after car at the shows—often with just a quick glance—here are a few things to keep in mind regarding the best of these showcase vehicles.

·  Old Meets New: When you encounter your favorite classic from years gone by, be sure to look closely. The Pro Touring movement means that in many cases, that ’32, ’57 or ’69 is sporting some 2013 technology under the hood, within the suspension, brakes, transmission and chassis, and/or in the cockpit.

·  Doing More with More: Many projects include examples of today’s technology that incorporates efficiency gains in the quest for increased power. The trend is to simply do more with more.

·  Have Your Cake: And in most cases, these projects are proof that today’s drivers can have it all. See a rating of 600, 700, 800 or more horsepower? That no longer means the lucky owner can’t take it to a Saturday night cruise and still roll smoothly away from a stoplight with respectable temperatures on the gauges.

My advice each year to show-goers is to make some time to really look at and appreciate what goes into a quality project vehicle, and to spend extra time examining the makes and models you see most often in your own shop, so you’ll have some new ideas to implement when you get back home.

And speaking of making time, be sure to also take a few minutes next week to stop by SEMA Booth #22523 and say “Hi” to your friends here at PB. We’d love to meet you, and get your take on your favorite must-see vehicles out at the shows.