Top Trucks at 2019 SEMA: Five that Jive

November 08, 2019 by Sue Mead

More than 160,000 gearheads and 2,400 exhibitors cram into the Las Vegas Convention Center annually for the sprawling SEMA show. It’s a massive showcase for automotive customization of hot rods, trucks, SUVs and just about anything else that has wheels and a motor.

Organized by the Specialty Equipment Market Association, the show caters to the $44.6 billion automotive aftermarket.

Although SEMA caters to every segment of the industry, trucks and SUVs take center stage, reflecting their popularity in the mainstream market. Gear for the rapidly growing Overlanding hobby also is prominent. eyeballed hundreds of vehicles that showcase innovations for enhancing performance, styling, comfort, convenience and safety—as well as pump up the wow-factor. We’ve selected our top five for a bit of a deep dive: the Ford Bronco R prototype, Chevrolet e-10 concept, ESAB Mobile Welding truck, 2016 Showstoppers X RAYS Wheels 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road Road 4 x 4 and the ASV-31 Armored SHFT Vehicle from Lucky Gunner Garage.


Ford used the show’s fanfare to unveil the Bronco R Race prototype. The vehicle has the same underpinning as the Bronco Ford plans to start selling next year. The prototype displayed in the Nevada desert in advance of SEMA harkens to Rod Hall’s 1969 Baja 1000-winning 1969 Bronco. It will race in the 2019 Baja 1000. The truck sports number “2069” on its rear-quarter panel and wing, That is a reference to the class it will compete in, 20, and the year of Hall’s legendary overall win, 69 The red, white and black exterior, accented by a blue space frame, pays tribute to the original racer.

Built on a modified Ford T6 architecture, Ford enhanced the roll-caged racer with many race-focused parts. The independent front suspension has 14 inches of travel. There is a production-based five-link rear chassis design with up to 18 inches of travel. The Bronco R features custom Fox shocks, 17-inch beadlock aluminum wheels and 37-inch BFGoodrich tires.

A twin-turbo EcoBoost engine powers the desert runner. But Ford has not shared the exact details of the powertrain. The race-focused interior is set up for three riders, with lightweight off-road racing shells from Recaro.


This concept from Chevrolet is electrifying: it’s the marriage of a vintage truck to modern-day innovations and tricked-out tech. A tribute to the 1962 C-10 pickup, it keeps the overall shape and dimensions of the original model, but sports an illuminated Chevy logo, LED lights, and a chopped suspension with 20-inch front and 22-inch rear wheels for a bit of bad-boy swagger. The interior has an upgraded fully-digital display and new leather-trimmed seats joining the classic layout that remains.


The big news is under the hood where the rear-drive hot rod gets Chevy’s electric Connect & Cruise concept crate propulsion package that brings approximately 450 horsepower. It uses components raided from the Bolt EV, including double-stack electric crate motors and two Bolt-sourced 400-volt batteries. It’s shifted through a conventional automatic transmission. Chevy says it sprints from 0 to 60 in around five seconds, with an estimated quarter-mile time that’s in the high 13-second range.


This 2001 Ford F 250 custom conversion caught our eye because of its practicality and style. ESAB customized the truck has an exterior wrap by PRINT IT SA, along with LED Lightforce illumination, Black Rhino wheels and a Warn Industries winch. It replaced the stock 6.8 V10 gas motor with a 7.3 diesel that pushes 550 horses, while a transmission upgrade aided gearing. The Full Traction 6-inch lift kit trades the front leaf springs for coils using Radflo shocks.

The builders subbed out the truck’s factory bed for a Custom aluminum flatbed and canopy. Outdoor entertainment is provided by a Rockford Fosgate stereo that is independent of the cab’s audio system. The canopy can be removed quickly by undoing four bolts. The rack of the flatbed has a Snomaster frig/freezer, a 20-gallon freshwater tank along with a compressor supplying onboard air and water. ESAB Welding machines and a plasma cutter are installed on slide outs for easy access.

Cruising Kitchens built the interior with a fully-configurable modular system; other upgrades and add-ons are Custom upholstery; Cummins Generator; and Ganes Media Vinyl Customized by Notion Fabrication.


Overlanding has gone out the roof-literally, with models from nearly every mainstream truck and SUV maker. Showstoppers Off Road modified this pickup by adding an ARB Safari Snorkel and AluCab Gen 3 rooftop tent with load bars screams out competent and camping.

It rides on RAYS TE-37XT 17×8.5 -10 Matte Red wheels and Yokoma Geolandar 285/70/17 mud terrain tires. KING adjustable performance shocks along with Dirt King upper and lower control arms and DEAVER suspension Expedition Stage III Leaf springs smooth the ride. Illumination comes from Baja Designs rack, fog, ditch, work, chase, and rear bumper lights. Inside is a Mobile Strong HDP Drawer System, a Katzkin leather interior, and a Switchables 8100 switch panel.

Other upfits include a Borla exhaust, Selbon TR style carbon fiber hood; Prinsu Habitat Rack; Demello Offroad aluminum front bumper and kickout sliders; Mobtown Off Road rear bumper with swing-out tire carrier and full aluminum skid plates; Bedrug Classic Bedliner; and an ARE CX HD camper shell with a toolbox.

Overland upfits include an Off Grid Engineering dual battery kit, ARB dual air compressor and Shoveltec Overlander Cromoly shovel. The truck also has a Warn Zeon 10s winch and a Deadman Off Road Earth Anchor.


Get your military on! Retired Marine Corp. vet Justin “Gus” Johnson did just that when he spent nine months designing this built-from-scratch HUMVEE-like runabout at his Lucky Gunner Garage in Conway, N.H. The 12,900 lb. truck boasts 7 feet of water-fording depth and rides on 46-inch rubber, with a full-sized spare on top.

Lucky Gunner Garage built the unibody four-seater with ballistic metal ar500 steel designed for medium-duty service vehicles. It has ballistic glass, as well. Under the hood is a Cummins 6 BT inline turbo diesel, while below are Rockwell 2 and ½ 6×6 axles and a 4-link suspension with coils. Other features are an 80-gallon fuel tank, Warn Industries winch, night vision cameras, stowage racks for gear and Line-X coating. It will be available for the civilian market by special order starting at approx. $200,000.

Jerry Hirsch November 5, 2019
Chevrolet showed a 1962 C-10 pickup truck converted to an electric vehicle at SEMA to demonstrate there is room for automotive enthusiasts in the transition to green transport.

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