18 of our favorite new products from SEMA 2023
The annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas attracts all sorts of head-turning vehicles that highlight the newest and most innovative products in the automotive aftermarket. Naturally, we were distracted by the hundreds of beautiful new feature builds but, once our heads stopped spinning, we were able to focus on learning about some of the manufacturers that are making products to help our project cars and trucks ride and drive a whole lot better. Here’s a sampling of what the automotive aftermarket is working on. Hopefully, some of these new products can help you get your project moving in the right direction.
1000 hp in a box
Blueprint Engines has been building Chevy big-blocks for years, although lots of them have been boring engines that do yeoman work for literally days on end to run various pieces of equipment. This is not a boring engine. The 632-cubic-inch big-block pictured above runs Holley Sniper EFI and uses Brodix heads and intake atop a four-bolt block filled with a forged rotating assembly to make one heck of a street engine. The result is 1015 hp and 840 lb-ft of torque at a pump-gas-friendly 10.65:1 compression ratio, all with an MSRP of $22,999.
Godzilla V-8–swap help
If you’ve seen some of the recent 7.3-liter Ford V-8 swaps and have been interested in pulling the trigger on your own project, we spotted a few new products that might help.
Holley’s new high-mount accessory drive could be the right solution if you need to place the A/C compressor and alternator up and out of the way. It uses the factory crank pulley but is also compatible with aftermarket dampers/pulleys.
Ford Performance gives builders a bit more breathing room in their engine bays with this lower-profile Godzilla intake, which uses a 92mm GT500 throttle body. It has an MSRP of $1125 and promises to deliver 10 extra ponies compared to the factory truck intake.
Holley also has a low-profile solution to your Godzilla-swap hood-clearance issues. Its cast aluminum intake has an MSRP of $839.95 and is up to 3.5 inches lower than the factory intake. We spotted one on a very clean Fox-body install at Ford Fest this year and have to admit that the big 7.3-liter engine does slim down nicely with this new intake and seems like a viable swap candidate for a lot of applications.
Fox-body climate control
It’s getting easier and easier to live with a Fox-body Mustang project as companies keep bringing new products to the market to restore and modify the lightweight and accommodating Fox-body platform. If you’ve got one set aside as your summer cruiser, then Vintage Air’s new Surefit A/C system might just be your savior. The kit includes electronically controlled heat, cool, and defrost functions with a new control panel that will blend into your interior and components designed to fit a Fox-body. With an MSRP of $2100, it could be the solution to a lot of HVAC gremlins that can pop up in a 40-year-old vehicle.
As long as you’re enjoying the ride in your air-conditioned Fox-body (with its new Godzilla engine), you may as well tune up the ride. Ride Tech’s bolt-in cradle adds independent rear suspension with coilovers or Ride Tech Shockwave air suspension, either of which will modernize your car’s handling in a big way. The $4500 kit is designed to bolt in with little modification and uses the center section, hubs, and (shortened) axles from an S550 (2014–23) Mustang, none of which are included.
If you’ve got one vintage vehicle—or several—that won’t easily accommodate an aftermarket solution to air conditioning, perhaps the Coolee from Cool Boss is your solution. This self-contained powered cooler pumps ice water through a radiator and a fan pulls air over the radiator and out a pair of aimable ducts. Charge it up, put it between the front bucket seats, fill it with ice and a bit of water, and you’ve got cool air for your summer cruise. Plus, it has a built-in Bluetooth stereo with a pair of speakers so you can take your music and drinks with you when you reach your destination. MSRP is $340.
1967–72 Chevy/GMC fuel tanks
A fuel tank right mounted behind your seat takes up valuable space, and the location is also a terrible place if that tank leaks. Aeromotive has a solution for owners of 1967–72 Chevy/GMC pickup owners with its 17-gallon Gen II Stealth fuel tank. The painted steel tank doesn’t require any frame-rail cutting and includes a new bed-mounted fuel filler. These tanks come complete with a sending unit, foam baffles, and the choice of three fuel pumps that can support more than 1000 hp. Prices start at around $1,000.
Modern disc brakes can add massive stopping power and safety to custom cars and trucks, and they even look great on the right build, although there are certain cars that look best with period-correct parts. Steve Watt, the car crew chief of the world’s fastest piston-powered car, teamed up with AMBR-winning car builder David Martin to develop these lobster-claw-style brakes that evoke the classic Halibrand brakes of the early 1950s but add modern internals. These will look proper on a vintage-style hot rod but they mount just like a modern Wilwood caliper; they even have the same six-piston internals. Production is just starting up, but expect to see them on some high-profile builds next year.
Meguiar’s is now offering a DIY ceramic paint-protection film that boasts professional levels of durability and shine. The M888 Beyond Ceramic Paint Coating requires a bit of prep, but Meguiar’s says that, with the proper prep and application, the protection can last for quite a while, especially when a dedicated owner provides upkeep. This film looks to be a tough product that could help keep your daily driver looking good for ages.
Heavy-duty air ride
Universal Air’s new Aeroleaf air suspension system for 2020+ Chevy and GMC 2500 and 3500 trucks replaces the leaf springs with burly links and air springs that bolt into the factory leaf spring and bumpstop mounts. By adjusting the air pressure to match the load, you can improve ride quality dramatically, especially when unladen. Universal Air says the kit installs in hours without any cutting and also improves handling when loaded. MSRP is $2495 for the suspension, and the required air management systems run from $1495 to $3295, depending on whether you want electronic leveling.
DEI has a pretty wide range of sound- and heat-insulation products, and their latest fills a gap in the market: paint-on heat and sound insulation. ATAC (Advanced Thermal Acoustic Coating) can be sprayed, rolled, or brushed onto primed metal surfaces and includes ceramic insulation to reduce heat transfer. Because it can be applied into tight spaces, it allows for more thorough coverage than sheet insulation, and the mass of the ATAC application will also help deaden sound. This seems like a great addition to a headliner or carpet install to help your A/C do its job a bit better.
’88–98 steering upgrade
The GMT400 pickup’s clean lines lend themselves to all sorts of customization. You’ll still see new GMT00 builds at custom car shows across the country. Now Flaming River has given the timeless design a big leg up, when it comes to the driver’s experience, with a bolt-in rack and pinion steering system. The kit has an MSRP of $2290 and maintains the factory steering geometry by using a bolt-in 3/8-inch steel plate. The new rack accepts the factory steering column, but if the one in your project truck is worn out, Flaming River also offers a bolt-in tilt steering column designed specifically for the ’88–98 Chevy/GMC, with an MSRP of $1350.
Vapor Trapper is a universal charcoal canister that’s meant to keep your vintage car’s fuel-system fumes from taking over your garage. The cylindrical aluminum canisters aren’t meant to replace a vehicle’s emission system, but if your vintage car never had a charcoal canister, adding one can dramatically reduce the amount of fuel vapor that’s vented to the atmosphere, keeping your garage from smelling like a gas station. MSRP is $299.
Last year, Speedways impressed us with its mockup LS engine. Now it has expanded its mockup products to include Gen I Chevy small-block and Chevy big-block, as well as a 4L60E automatic transmission. The steel stand-ins disassemble and store away compactly when not needed, and when they are needed they have the correct mounting locations and geometry to help get mounts in the right place and route plumbing and exhaust where it won’t interfere. MSRP for the engines is $375.99 and the transmission is $199.99.
Quick-shift Turbo 400
This one is big for drag racers. To reduce rotating mass and thus improve efficiency, Sonnax’s new Smart-tech drum module for the Turbo 400 removes the factory direct drum that counter-rotates in first gear. The design puts more power to the tires and reduces shock to the transmission case, resulting in higher trap speeds, lower E.T.s, and better consistency. The module has already helped claim new records in hard-fought racing classes. If you’re building a full manual valvebody Turbo 400 and want to shave a few thousandths off your E.T., this new piece of gear should be on your shopping list.