I have always seen pictures and heard stories about the show on the internet and TV, but was never able to go. This year I was lucky enough to have the help of 4x4wire.com to attend this event. I really wasn't sure what to expect, and went in with an open mind.
Once I arrived, I realized just how big this even was. It spans over 2 million square feet, both indoors and outdoors. The convention center was separated into multiple sections which included Tools, Car Care, Mobile Electronics, Business Services, Racing and Performance, Hot Rod Alley, Restoration, Trucks/SUV/Offroad, and Tires/Wheels and Equipment.
My main focus was the trucks, SUVs, and Off-Road section. On the showroom floor I found a little bit of everything. There were all the big names in offroad such as Warn, Milemarker, Eaton, Dynatrac, Superlift, Terraflex, Tuff Country, Mastercraft, Hi Lift, Calmini, Skyjacker, and so on. And a lot of the big auto manufacturers were there, such as Toyota, GM, Ford, Suzuki, Nissan, Subaru, and others. And also a lot of small companies that you never heard of, many of which are from Asian countries. Everyone had their latest and greatest products on display. Some displays were bigger and flashier than others.
Several big auto companies were there as well. Being the Toyota guy I am, I was drawn to the Toyota display. They had several really cool trucks on display, along with some engines. The most popular truck on display was the retro Tacoma. It was an 09 Tacoma extended cab, with styling cues from the 80's. It sported the old school SR5 graphics found on 80's trucks, blacked out front grille with the "TOYOTA" badge, light bar with KC highlighters, white rally wheels, front and rear tube bumpers, and the most impressive feature was the solid front axle and transfer case borrowed from an FJ80 Landcruiser. Too bad this is not a production vehicle, there would be a long list waiting to purchase this!
Another thing I noticed was the large number of Toyota Tundras. They appear to have a VERY large aftermarket following.
There were also some "famous" vehiciles (and people) at the show, including the "Ecto-1" from Ghostbustes and "Kit" from Night Rider. I also was able to meet Gravedigger driver Dennis Anderson.
Skyjacker showed off a neat display with some RC rock crawling trucks. They made some artificial rocks on the back of a truck. RC crawling has become very popular in the past few years with many major RC manufacturers producing truck and parts specifically designed for crawling.
Another interesting section was the "Making Green Cool Zone" where they have various environmentally friendly products and vehicles, such as a 100mpg Prius, biodiesel powered H1, Hydrogen on Demand 33' Ford, E85 powered Corvette with STS turbos, and my favorite, an electric '85 Blazer, built by Physics Lab of Lake Havasu. It was powered by 2 120vdc electric motors hooked end to end, coupled directly to the stock transfer case. The accessories such as power steering and alternator were run by hydrualic motors. It also featured a hydrogen on demand system. Another neat feature was the regenerative hydraulic shocks. It used the heavy weight of the Blazer to regenerate electricity to charge the batteries.
I covered a lot of ground at the show (and BOY did my feet hurt) but there was still a lot of products and vehicles that I did not get a close enough look at. I spent 2 full days at the show, but I would need 3 or 4 to cover everything. The show was pretty amazing. A lot of interesting products and vehicles. There is truly something for everyone. Companies try to out-do themselves every year, which makes every year more exciting. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to attend a future show.
Check out all of my pictures at my web album http://picasaweb.google.com/4Runneradam/Sema