The Annual SEMA show at the Las Vegas Convention Center brings in cars, trucks, and SUVs of all stripes. As wild and as flashy as many of the builds may be, they’d be paperweights if it weren’t for their engines. Here are our 13 favorites from day one of the show, and those were just within the show’s Central Hall, which is heavy on domestic performance and big on horsepower.
One of the wildest powerplants we spotted was this twin LS V-8 setup intended for a Hal Design supercar. It features two separate 427 cubic-inch engines linked together to power a single transaxle. There may be easier ways to get 1400 horsepower, but not many of them would look this cool.
This Cheetah is powered by an iron-block V-12 from the Australian company Racecast. The V-12 is based on Chevrolet LS architecture and is available in 564- or 580-cubic-inch versions. They weigh 584 pounds in cast iron form, about 100 pounds less than an all-iron big-block Chevy, and produce 700–1000 horsepower.
Inline-six engines and triple Webers go together like milk and cookies. The engine bay of this Datsun Z is uncluttered and understated.
The Roadster Shop’s widebody second-gen Camaro, Road Rage, has a lot going on under the hood. While a cantilever suspension puts the coilovers on display, it’s the LS engine that steals the show. Its individual throttle bodies are fitted to squared-off bell mouths that protrude through the hood and mimic 1969 Camaro hood louvers.
Pure Vision builds a lot of cars for customers, but this 1964 Olds Cutlass has been on the back burner for a long time because it belongs to the shop’s owner, Steve Strope. Its 330 Olds V-8 is nicely dressed and features twin snorkels that pull in air from just behind the grille.
Speedkore has been making news with its Challenger Demon. This similar Hemi Demon engine is in Speedkore’s classic Charger, built with a full carbon fiber body.
You could argue Ford has built a V-8 that’s cooler than Boss 429. You’d be wrong, but you could still argue.
Cotati Speed Shop brought out a 1968 Camaro with wide flares and striking graphics. All we saw was the mechanically fuel-injected 410-cu-in sprint car engine. Zane Cullen, the shop’s owner, told us that it idles at 1400 rpm and is happy to rev to 8000 rpm.
Jordan Quintal at Super Rides by Jordan built this Boyd roadster more than a decade ago, and it was back at SEMA as a tribute to the owner, Steve Barton, who passed away. The monster V-8 engine uses 4.9-inch bores and a 6-inch stroke to deliver 904 cubic inches. It has dual overhead cams with four valves per cylinder and was originally intended for drag racing. Even in its “detuned” street trim it produces 1500 horsepower.
We found this satin red supercharged Ford Coyote underneath the perfectly polished candy red hood of an Edsel.
This gen-one Chevy small-block is hiding its electronic injectors in the valley, giving the illusion of mechanical fuel injection.
COPO Camaro’s only supercharged engine, this 350-cu-in mill has the same displacement as the first generation small-block that debuted in the 1967 Camaro and would go on to become the go-to displacement for Chevy for decades. Unlike any production 350, this one cranks out around 1000 horsepower.