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Nissan's V8-powered Ranger Raptor rival, Lexus' camping SUV, Subaru-powered Porsche and more: The weird, wacky and wonderful cars of the 2022 SEMA Show

auto, autos, car, cars, lexus, nissan, porsche, subaru, nissan's v8-powered ranger raptor rival, lexus' camping suv, subaru-powered porsche and more: the weird, wacky and wonderful cars of the 2022 sema show
Like many years in the past, the 2022 SEMA show is the home of wild and whacky car builds.

The SEMA Show is unlike any other motor show on the planet. For four days in Las Vegas some of the world’s biggest car brands, as well as the most skilled custom car builders, show off the wildest and most spectacular automotive creations they can muster.

SEMA stands for Specialty Equipment Market Association and is a US-based but global aftermarket body with more than 10,000 members. Because of that, the SEMA Show isn’t focused on the latest production models like a typical motor show and instead both manufacturers and aftermarket companies try and out-do each other with the most head-turning creation they can bolt together.

It’s not just frivolous fun though, the show is a way for brands to showcase new products and trends in the automotive space. Recent shows have seen an increasing focus on electrification, with the ‘electric restomod’ industry taking centre stage in recent years.

This year General Motors stayed away and Ford cut down its own presences, but there were still some amazing cars on display. We’ve picked five of our favourites but the reality is there are just too many interesting cars at SEMA to include them all.

NISMO Off-Road Frontier V8 Concept

auto, autos, car, cars, lexus, nissan, porsche, subaru, nissan's v8-powered ranger raptor rival, lexus' camping suv, subaru-powered porsche and more: the weird, wacky and wonderful cars of the 2022 sema show
The Nissan Frontier is the US equivalent to the Navara.

Wondering what a Nissan version of a Ford Ranger Raptor rival might look like? Nissan gave the answer at the SEMA Show with this creation. The Nissan Frontier is the US equivalent to the Navara, and for the show the Japanese brand commissioned Forsberg Racing to squeeze the 5.6-litre V8 from the bigger Titan pick-up (and Patrol off-roader) under the bonnet and fit wide-track suspension with specially developed NISMO-Bilstein shock absorbers.

Is it just for show though? Back at the 2018 SEMA Show, Nissan built a 370Z powered by the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 from the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport – the engine that ultimately ended up in the new Z. So could this NISMO Off-Road concept point to a future V8-powered Frontier?

At the other end of the spectrum, Nissan also helped turn a 1987 Sunny ute into an electric vehicle. The compact ute has the 110kW electric powertrain from the Leaf hatch under the bonnet, which may not sound like much but is almost double the power the original petrol engine offered.

It was finished off in a retro Nissan off-road racing livery from the 1980s to complete the look.

‘Swiss Army Knife’ Ford F-150 Lightning 

auto, autos, car, cars, lexus, nissan, porsche, subaru, nissan's v8-powered ranger raptor rival, lexus' camping suv, subaru-powered porsche and more: the weird, wacky and wonderful cars of the 2022 sema show
This Lightning is the ideal weekend getaway car.

The Blue Oval celebrated its popular electric pick-up, the F-150 Lightning, with several SEMA customs, but this creation built with customiser Neil Tjin is our pick. The appropriately named ‘Swiss Army Knife’ is a “jack-of-all-trades” according to Ford, with a variety of additions that make it suitable for a wide array of tasks.

It has solar charging, a portable refrigerator, air compressor and Thule cargo accessories on the roof and tray. There’s also space for a pair of e-bikes, which makes this the ideal weekend getaway car that highlights the Lightning in a new way.

Subaru-powered Porsche 911 GT3

auto, autos, car, cars, lexus, nissan, porsche, subaru, nissan's v8-powered ranger raptor rival, lexus' camping suv, subaru-powered porsche and more: the weird, wacky and wonderful cars of the 2022 sema show
While not the original engine, the Subaru boxer punches harder than the original Porsche motor.

As we mentioned earlier, SEMA may have big name manufacturers on show, but the smaller, independent custom car builders are just as important – and creative. This special project backed by Japanese oil brand, Eneos, is a perfect example.

DevSpeed Motorsports bought a crashed Porsche 911 GT3 (997 generation) that came without an engine. Instead of finding an original Porsche flat-six, the team behind the car found a different boxer engine – a 2.5-litre turbocharged flat-four from a Subaru WRX STI.

While not the original engine, the Subaru boxer punches harder than the original Porsche motor, making 405kW and weighing more than 70kg less for an even better power-to-weight ratio – even if it will upset Porsche purists.

Lexus GX460 Overland Concept

auto, autos, car, cars, lexus, nissan, porsche, subaru, nissan's v8-powered ranger raptor rival, lexus' camping suv, subaru-powered porsche and more: the weird, wacky and wonderful cars of the 2022 sema show
This is an SUV to take you anywhere and do it in comfort and style.

Think of Toyota-built off-road SUVs and chances are you don’t think of the Lexus GX, largely because your mind will instantly go to the LandCruiser, but also because the Prado-based luxury model isn’t sold in Australia.

But after seeing what Lexus and Cruiser Outfitters created for SEMA, we wish it was available here. Finished in an unmissable harlequin paint job and loaded with off-road extras – including an Aussie ARB fridge, Yakima roof tent and Old Man Emu suspension – this is an SUV to take you anywhere and do it in comfort and style.

Jeep CJ Surge Concept

auto, autos, car, cars, lexus, nissan, porsche, subaru, nissan's v8-powered ranger raptor rival, lexus' camping suv, subaru-powered porsche and more: the weird, wacky and wonderful cars of the 2022 sema show
The 200kW motor sits under the bonnet of this Jeep concept.

One of the recent trends at the SEMA Show has been the creation of electric restomods, such as the Ford F-100 Eluminator and Chevrolet Project X in 2021. For this year it was Jeep who combined its past and future by taking an old CJ model and swapping the petrol engine for a new electric powertrain.

The 200kW motor sits under the bonnet, while the 50kWh battery pack is mounted in the rear (where the back seats would typically be). This is a case study for the brand to see if it can create a range of suitable electric ‘crate motors’ for customers who want to swap their own Jeeps to battery power.

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