Our favorite trucks, 4x4s, and overlanders from SEMA 2023
If you hadn’t been to the annual SEMA show in a while, you might have thought there were fewer off-road builds than in years past, but that’s only because so much of the off-road content was in the recently added West Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. If you didn’t know the new space existed, you’d have missed out on a whole lot of cool products and scores of impressive builds. Since we’ve already shown many of our favorite cars that featured at SEMA, it’s time to highlight some of the amazing truck, 4×4, and overland builds from the massive show.
This 1968 Jeep Wagoneer, built by CAL Auto Creations, rides on a 4×4 Roadster Shop chassis with independent front suspension and a four-link rear. It is similar to one you can buy for a classic Bronco, but it has been custom fit for this application. Power comes from a Chevrolet LT4 V-8 crate engine that is mounted to a Bowler 4L80E four-speed auto. Its body is a unique mix of Jeep sheet metal and custom trim, with an early “rhino” grille that wasn’t offered on the rare Super Wagoneer package this restomod emulates. The trim is custom, in the same vein as a Super Wagoneer, but is made from the unique aluminum pattern used in a 1958 Plymouth Fury.
Inside the Wagoneer, you could be fooled into thinking everything is just restored, as it all looks very similar to a factory Wagoneer, but it’s much more upscale. The Vintage Air controls on the driver’s side blend in seamlessly, and the dash vents, which absolutely look like they belong, take the place of ashtrays. A Dakota Digital dash keeps analog gauges with the exception of small digital displays for warning lights, a trip odometer, and other menus.
The one vehicle that had us most wanting to hit the road for an off-highway excursion was this 1962 Jeep FC 170 built by Roy Wallace. The classic lines of the FC, along with its unique packaging, manage to look great with the simple, modern flatbed and cargo box. There’s a lot of capability in a compact package, and we’d love to see this thing on the trail.
AEV showed off its Sierra Grande concept. The single-cab truck wears custom fender flares over enlarged wheel openings to fit 40-inch rubber on a factory 2500 ZR2 Bison suspension. AEV president Dave Harriton says there’s typically very little demand for single-cab trucks, but AEV builds a few of its Ram-based Prospector trucks every year as a halo vehicle. Don’t expect AEV to offer a flatbed conversion Sierra Grande any time soon, but nearly all of the parts are off-the-shelf, except for the fender flares, and those could be production-ready soon.
It’s not a truck or 4×4, but we have to mention this beautifully rugged two-wheeler. Nathan Reginato built this 1979 Honda Goldwing for long-distance adventure. The fairing is gone, and the stripped-down bike wears waxed canvas luggage from Overland Vehicle Systems. The same material was also used in trim throughout the bike.
ROKBUGY is a VW Bug with some fantastic fabrication work. It sits on a modified Jeep Wrangler Unlimited chassis, and the four-wheel-steer behemoth Beetle is powered by a GM LS V-8. For its SEMA debut, this V-dub was wearing 58-inch Mickey Thompson tires. It had a great spot in the show and drew tons of traffic. We’d have a hard time imagining a trail or obstacle that could stop this beast.
The James Baroud booth was filled with this Jeep Gladiator that sprouted its massive basecamp shelter that was the size of a studio apartment. There’s a rooftop tent penthouse and a privacy shelter for a shower or camp bathroom.
Earthroamer showed off two massive off-road RVs, one based on a Ford Super Duty, and another on a Chevy Silverado medium-duty chassis. Both offered amazing accommodations, with on-board kitchens and bathrooms with a shower.