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Thread: SEMA 2017 RECAP : The TOP 5 GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY

  1. #1
    Administrator wayoflife's Avatar
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    SEMA 2017 RECAP : The TOP 5 GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY

    I've always looked at SEMA as being a bellwether of our economy. When times are good, people are eager to open up their wallets and buy all kinds of toys. When times are tough, they cinch in their belts and make do with what they've got. While we all need vehicles to drive, building them up is far from being a necessity and accessories for them are in fact, nothing more than toys. At our lowest point about 7-8 years ago, SEMA had gotten so small that featured vehicles, cars and trucks that would normally be placed outside, were being brought into the main hall and with the hopes of making the show look more full. This year, the show was so big, way bigger than I've ever seen it, that large temporary tents were erected outside to provide more space for vendors and featured vehicles were being placed across the street and in distant back lots. While all this is great news for the U.S.A., I can't say that a bigger show necessarily equals more quality stuff worth buying or at least, for a Jeep anyway and in this Recap of the 2017 SEMA show, I'll go over what I thought was the good, the bad and the down right ugly.

    The GOOD
    After 10 years of aftermarket products being made for the Jeep JK Wrangler and even longer for older Jeep models, it takes a lot to have something that'd really catch my eye. Fortunately, there were a few things that did just that and the following is a list of the GOOD that I saw at the 2017 SEMA show. Be sure to click on the title, pic or the link below each selection to see a ton more pics and read more about them.

    #1 - Jeep JL Wrangler

    When it comes to new and totally different, how could I not pick the unveiling of the 2018 Jeep JL Wrangler as being the #1 GOOD thing that I saw at SEMA. Certainly, it was the single most viewed and discussed post that I made at the show and with good reason. I think everyone and their mother has been chomping at the bit to see what this thing would actually look like and for me personally, I LOVE IT!

    #2 - REGO 4X4 REX IFS/IRS JK Suspension System

    If it weren't for the official Jeep JL Wrangler reveal, I'd have to give the #1 GOOD spot to the REX IFS/IRS Jeep JK Wrangler Suspension System developed by REGO 4X4. While they are far from being the first to come out with an IFS system, their ingenious use of portals mounted to a differential to allow axle shafts to extend to wheels on the opposite side is simply mind blowing. Without question, their outside of the box thinking and design is the most innovative and creative thing I've seen at SEMA - period.

    #3 - Universal Motor Company CJ-5

    Ever since President Obama signed new legislation into law that would allow "low volume car manufacturers" to produce as many as 325 replica vehicles for customers, I've been waiting for a company to do just that and with an old CJ. In other words, if there were a company willing to make them, people like you and I could buy a brand new Jeep CJ2A, CJ-5 or CJ-7 equipped with a modern 3.6L V6 Pentastar and drive it off the lot. As luck would have it, UMC or Universal Motor Company is planning to take on the challenge and because of it, I am giving the #3 - GOOD spot to them.

    #4 - Synergy JKC-1 Jeepster Commando

    If there was a theme for the 2017 SEMA show, I'd have to say it was old iron and the restoration of them with modern touches such as new motors or the use of a JK chassis. And, of all the sweet builds I saw, nothing came close to immaculate JKC-1 Jeepster Commando made by Synergy. Even though it was built on a JK frame, was running a V8 under the hood and even made ready to play out on the rocks, they keep it true to it's original form and looking factory both inside and out. This as opposed to having a Jeepster body but with a JK interior. For this, I give them the #4 - GOOD spot.

    #5 - Omix-ADA Old Iron Collection

    Once again, Omix-ADA really outdid themselves by bringing out a super rare collection of military Jeeps including the Bantam BRC-40, the one that started it all. I really can't thank these guys enough for working so hard to preserve the history and heritage of Jeep and because of it, they get the #5 slot for the GOOD I found at the 2017 SEMA show.

  2. #2
    Administrator wayoflife's Avatar
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    The BAD
    The whole point of a show like SEMA is to provide manufacturers with an enormous venue to show off the products that they make and to give builders a chance show off the quality of their work. For the most part, the new products being released are significant improvements over OE and the attention to detail on the vehicles being displayed are simply breathtaking. That being said, there are a times when I do come across something that leaves me scratching my head and wondering, what in the hell were they thinking? The following are a few that I saw at the 2017 show.

    #1 - Gear Alloy White Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited

    Of all the built up and shiny Jeep JK Wranglers that I saw at the 2017 SEMA show, this white one that was being shown at the Gear Alloy Wheels display takes the #1 - BAD spot for me. Seriously, if you're going to spend crazy amounts of money building up a Jeep that thousands of people will see, you would think that someone would care enough to make sure that it was setup right. Sure, maybe most would never notice how bad the steering geometry is or how it'll just be a matter of time before a remote reservoir hose get rubbed to its core but to have a brake line and speed sensor routed right through a coil is way beyond a rookie move - it's simply gross negligence and just plain BAD.

    #2 - BDS Dual Steering Stabilizer Kit

    So much of the aftermarket industry exists to provide products that are significant improvements over what came on your Jeep from the factory. It is because of this that I have to give the #2 - BAD spot to BDS Suspension and for making what is essentially a ridiculous Jeep JK Wrangler tie-rod protector. While I fully understand that there are uneducated people out there who are convinced that 2 steering stabilizers has to be better than just one, to place them way in front of and well below the tie-rod, a component that gets hit all the time and to the point where most replace them with an HD version and/or relocates it higher, makes absolutely no sense to me. I have to say, the fact that BDS would come up with this terrible idea at all is enough to make me question ALL of their products.

    #3 - GONEKED Bedlined Blue Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited

    Unfortunately, I never did figure out who this Jeep JK Wrangler belonged to or why it was at the 2017 SEMA show but I've decided to give it the #3 - BAD spot and because of the crazy long arm suspension system it was running. While it was running a triangulated 4-link setup in the rear, the weak homemade tubed cross member they were attached to sat significantly lower than the transmission cross member. Sure, the whole point of running long arms is to help correct suspension geometry but not at the cost of loosing the break over angles that you just paid so much to increase. Also, the brackets on the axle looked massive and to be a point of failure and the drop brackets for the front arm radius arms made no sense to me. All in all, I'm surprised this Jeep made it into the convention grounds where much nicer builds were put out to the pasture.

    #4 - 6WheelJeep

    Maybe it's just me but I just don't get the whole 6x6 Jeep thing. I mean, a pickup truck is one thing and I totally understand why everyone wants one but it really is a complete mystery to me as to what the allure of these ultra-long Jeep JK Wranglers is or why they were out in force at the 2017 SEMA show. For me personally, they just seem silly and for that, they've made #4 on my BAD list.

    #5 - Vendetta Hi-Lift Jack Storage Side Step

    The new Vendetta side steps are more "silly" than "bad" but since I don't have a category for that, they've made it to #5 of my BAD list. While I can appreciate the idea of making these things into Hi-Lift storage boxes, they're built in a way that you could never use them as a Hi-Lift jack point. Also, they are MASSIVE, hang down way low to the ground and just bolted up to the pinch seam. This works with Rubicon rocker guards because of how small they are but the enormous size of these steps would act a levers and can only imagine the kind of damage they would cause to your Jeep's body.

  3. #3
    Administrator wayoflife's Avatar
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    The UGLY
    Maybe it's because the Jeep JK Wrangler has been around for 10 years and manufacturers have run out of good ideas or that people just really hate the look of their Jeep and are desperate to make it look like anything other than one but I'd have to say that so much of what I saw at the 2017 SEMA show, was just down right UGLY.

    #1 - Topfire

    Just when I thought it was impossible to make something nastier than the FabFours Grumper grill, a new company called Topfire showed up to the 2017 SEMA show to prove me wrong. Worse than any unibrow grill, Topfire's abortion of a grill and matching fenders effectively transforms a Jeep from being something truly iconic into something that's completely idiotic. For this, they get the #1 - UGLY spot for me.

    #2 - Oracle Lights Jeep Vector Grill

    I have to give it to Oracle for being creative enough to take the hideous unibrow idea, combine it with a unique take on the grill delete and make something entirely nastier. Of course, that's what I was initially thinking when I first came across the Jeep JK Wrangler at the 2017 SEMA show but it was only until later in the week when I came across their new Vector Grill that I knew they'd have to make it on my UGLY list. Say hello to #2.

    #3 - Big Bling Wheels & Factory Axles

    #3 on my UGLY list goes out to all the big blingy Jeep JK Wranglers at the 2017 SEMA show running around on 40" tires on 24" deep dish wheels and mounted on factory Dana 30 or Dana 44 factory axles. Sure, it's SEMA and flashy is where it's at - I get it but what I object to is that they're just flashy and nothing else. Absolutely no thought has gone into making these things remotely functional and that's a shame. These are first and foremost Jeeps, a unique vehicle that has a loyal fan base and a strong culture to go with it. Like any vehicle, this should always be given some consideration or at least, in my opinion.

    #4 - Ruining Old Iron

    While I personally prefer my old iron to look as factory as possible, I completely understand the desire by many to use them as a blank canvas and make them into something new. With that said, it always breaks my heart to see an old classic transformed into something it was never intended to be and so for #4 on my UGLY list, I'd have to give it to Hostile Forged.

    #5 - The UNIBROW

    Why so many people think that making their Jeep's grill look like a neanderthal or other lower form of hominid is a good thing is beyond me but, once again, rounding out the top 5 list of butt ugliness you can add on a Jeep JK Wrangler is the UNIBROW. Of course, if one unibrow can make your Jeep look badass, a double unibrow has to make it look badasser!

  4. #4
    Administrator wayoflife's Avatar
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    Honorable Mentions
    SEMA 2017 may have been the biggest show I've personally seen in terms of physical displays and vehicles and if I could guess, it's the biggest they've seen as well. Here are a few honorable mentions that I wanted to make sure got into the recap, just in case you missed them earlier in the week.

    Fishbone Offroad / Code3 IT Jeep JK-8 Police Off-Road Pursuit Jeep

    For those of you who were following the Fishbone JK-8 build here on WAYALIFE, I can tell you that it came out awesome and it was great to see it on display at the 2017 SEMA show. For those of you who haven't seen them already, be sure to check out more pics of it here!

    Strike Force Zebra

    2017 was Strike Force Zebra's first appearance at SEMA and I was happy to see that in addition to their truly awesome half doors, they came to show off their super nice Storage Box, way cool Central Command switch system and all NEW awesome Air Command air down and inflation system. Be sure to watch the short video we posted up of them showing off their products!


    Even though they're gearing up for the all new Jeep JL Wrangler, Dynatrac still came to the 2017 SEMA show with at least a couple of new products that you might want for your Jeep. The first of which is their new ProGrip brake pads for their ProRock and XD60 axles a the second is their all new 40-spine shafts and hubs.

    ComeUp Winch

    As most of you know, I prefer to buy American whenever possible especially when it comes to safety equipment. At the 2017 SEMA show, I ran into a friend that I trust and who now works for a Taiwanese company called ComeUp and after hearing what he had to say about the winches they make, I agreed to share it with all of you.

    Cargo Glide Toxic Jeep JK Wrangler

    While the Toxic Jeep JK Wrangler that Cargo Glide had on display at the 2017 SEMA show is nothing I'd ever want to own, I personally think it's one of the best thematic builds I've seen in quite some time and for that, I felt it needed an honorable mention here.

    ROAMR Jeep Gladiator Tomahawk

    Even though I personally prefer my old iron to be stockish and to be true to how it came from the factory on the year it was born, it'd be hard for me to not recognize the ROAMR Jeep Gladiator Tomahawk. Certainly, it was one of the most viewed and talked about SEMA vehicle here on WAYALIFE and so for those of you who missed it earlier in the week, I would highly recommend that you give it a look now.

  5. #5
    Administrator wayoflife's Avatar
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    So, that was my take on the 2017 SEMA show, I'd love to hear what you thought! What were your Top 5 favorite Jeeps and what were your Top 5 least favorite? Inquiring minds want to know

  6. #6
    Nothing but a Thing Linebacker's Avatar
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    Sep 2012
    Evergreen, CO
    I just cannot get the Rego 4x4 Rex IRS system out of my mind, and I can visualize it under a UMC, Pentastar equipped CJ-3 or my 2012 JKUR. Get back Loretta!!
    Last edited by Linebacker; 11-06-2017 at 12:42 AM.
    My other Jeep....Is a Jeep

  7. #7
    Old Timer benatc1's Avatar
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    Nov 2015
    Reno, NV
    Thanks for the write up and the recap, it’s pretty cool to be able to see inside, even the ugly. So many different things out there and it’s nice for us to see them all in one place (here). My opinion on your top 5s is pretty close to where you are at. Some really cool stuff and maybe out weighed by the ugly. Thanks again!!

    Sent from my iPhone using WAYALIFE mobile app

  8. #8
    Nothing but a Thing boardsurfer's Avatar
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    Jan 2015
    Man that Synergy Commando is just beautiful, my top pick. For the worst, well take your pick. There was plenty of mayhem and foolishness to be had.

    2nd pick for me was the Baja Designs crew cab Jk.

  9. #9
    Resident Smartass OverlanderJK's Avatar
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    Oct 2012
    I think you hit the nail on the head with the good bad and ugly. I think the worst was that GONEKED one though.

    Sent from my iPhone using WAYALIFE mobile app

    2012 Dozer JK
    -Dynatrac PR44/Rubicon Rear
    -Nitto 37” Trail Grapplers
    -Rock Krawler 2.5” Lift
    -ATX Slabs
    -Warn VR8
    -EVO Armor/Bumpers

    2012 Billet Silver JKUR
    -EVO DTD front and rear
    -Dynatrac PR60/PR80
    -EVO High Clearance Long Arm
    -Nitto 40” Trail grapplers
    -KMC Machetes
    -JE Reel 1410/1350 Driveshafts
    -Warn CTI 9.5
    -EVO Armor/Bumpers

    1975 DJ5

  10. #10
    Nothing but a Thing 13_gecko_rubi's Avatar
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    Jan 2014
    Commerce, MI
    At least Topfire tried to actually shape the top of their hideous grille thing to the shape of the JK hood line. For that is give them a 1.5 spot behind the grumper lol.

    Nice picks!!

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