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Hot Rod's Top 10 Automotive Trends From the 2014 SEMA Show

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/6/2014 David Kennedy, Brandan Gillogly, Elana Scherr

1966 Chevy Chevelle© Provided by MotorTrend 1966 Chevy Chevelle Non-Metallic Paint
HOT ROD noted this in 2012, and now it’s widespread. We’re still seeing some bass boat glitter here and there, but the proliferation of dark, non-sparkly charcoals, and a series of creams, tans, and chocolates is in the majority. When it’s done right, earth-tone color combinations look amazing, highlighting flawless bodywork and mirror-straight panels. If the rest of the car isn’t eye-catching though, they can just look drab, melting all the angles and edges of a car into a shapeless blob.


SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 002© Provided by MotorTrend SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 002 Teal and Turquoise Colors
These colors are a throwback to the mid 1950s to the early 1960s, and we’re seeing them a lot on resto-mods in both metallic and plain gloss finishes. The darker blues are fantastic, like tropical oceans. The lighter shades occasionally make the car look like a pastel wedding mint, but we still kinda like them.

SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 003© Provided by MotorTrend SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 003 Gassers
The up-in-the-air stance of an old fashioned Gasser build rarely goes unnoticed. Whether all lettered-up or finished in a classic satin black, it seems like everyone looks at a nose-up Gasser and can imagine themselves heading down a two-lane road in search of the next drag race. Gasser-style builds have been popular for a number of years, although we can’t remember seeing so many recently at SEMA, tri-fives in particular. PPG even has a 1955 Chevy Gasser stroller in their Toy Store booth.

SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 004© Provided by MotorTrend SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 004 Diesel-Powered Cars
This is a trend that has slowly been growing. This year we saw rat rods with Cummins inline-fours (known as 4BTs) and inline-sixes (known as 6BTs), and drag cars and muscle cars with twin-turbocharged GM Duramax V8s.

SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 005© Provided by MotorTrend SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 005 LED Lighting As A Design Element
Luxury cars and the off-road segment has long embraced light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for their incredible output and low electrical draw, and now we’re seeing them in cars. While we can’t deny the overall benefits of those little light clusters, we do occasionally wonder about the placement or quantity we’re seeing on some custom builds. Is it a taillight or a sign on the Vegas Strip?

SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 006© Provided by MotorTrend SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 006 3-D-Printed Parts
More and more of our build interviews end with learning that a particularly rare or custom part was 3-D printed. Any number of plastic bezels and badges around the show were probably made by an additive process. Heck, the Local Motors Strati EV is a 3-D-printed car! It uses an entire body that’s made by building up material in the programmed shape. We also saw manufacturers showing off their printing capability in the tool section of SEMA, so this is definitely a trend that should grow.

SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 007© Provided by MotorTrend SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 007 Gratuitous CNC-Machined Parts
We’ve noticed a lot of cool CNC-machined billet aluminum parts, and some of them are using huge chunks of aluminum where tubing or sheet used to suffice. This sort of over-engineering makes sense at a show like this, because for a lot of builders, SEMA is all about showing off what you are capable of.

SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 008© Provided by MotorTrend SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 008 Second-Generation Chargers
1968-1970 Chargers are the HOT ROD staff’s favorite Mopar B-body, it’s undisputed. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be a perennial SEMA show trend, other than it’s hard to cut one up. We didn’t expect to see them with such varied engine options however; the Roadster Shop built a 1968 with a twin-turbo Viper V10. And Mercury Racing had a 1970 Charger on display with its own four-cam, twin-turbo 552ci (9.0L) 1,600hp crate engine known as QC4v

SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 010© Provided by MotorTrend SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 010 Nose Jobs and Facelifts
A number of muscle cars, some late model, mostly 1960s, were at the show with extensively reworked front fascias. From heavily modified lights to hand-formed grilles and even completely different cars grafted on, SEMA’s show cars have been going under the knife. It’s a big deal to change something’s face, and it can be tough to improve upon the design of a recognizable classic car. We’ve definitely seen some misses. One radical redesign we really liked was Bob Bruhn’s 1965 AMC Marlin. The new nose is pointed and is made from a Chevy Nova hood over a custom grille insert and the rear bumper of a 1965 Plymouth. It gives the car a vigorous muscle look that the stock Marlin lacked.

Brightly-Colored Wheels
This is migrating over from the exotic car world. It’s a risky move, but it’s very attention getting, and will look great in track action. Love it or hate it, we’re happy to see a move away from the all-black wheel trend of the past few years.

SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 009© Provided by MotorTrend SEMA 2014 Top Tend Trends 009

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