The SEMA show (Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association) is the leading indicator or trends in technology, customization and innovation for the automotive industry. The show is enormous with over one million square feet of interior space with 2,200 vendors on display. The outside area constitutes an addition 1.5 million square feet of space and for this year 2012 featured a drifting track, a Lexus display area, a Corvette Z06 and ZR-1 demonstration area and MoPar Alley (a collection of classic MoPars on display). There were over 130,000 paid attendees on hand (and there would have been more in attendance had it not been for Hurricane Sandy). Nonetheless, this year 2012 SEMA show had more attendees and exhibitors than ever before. The show is divided into (12) sections; Business Services, Collision & Repair, Global Tire, Hot Rod Alley, Mobile Electronics, Powersports & Utility Vehicles, Racing & Performance, Restoration, Restyling & Car Care, Tools & Equipment, (Trucks, SUV’s and Off-Road), and Wheels & Accessories. This show is gigantic. But the pure enormity and size is only one element of the SEMA mystique. It is the unadulterated and pure PASSION for all things automotive that characterizes this show. With so many vendors selling their wares, many of them build custom cars to draw attendees to their stand to evaluate their product line.
One of the crowd favorites of the show (and my personal favorite) was the Martini Mustang T-5R built by Steve Stroppe of Pure Vision Design. Displayed at the ARP stand (American Racing Products – suppliers of ultra- high quality automotive nuts, bolts and fasteners), this was the embodiment of the SEMA show mantra of “quality and innovation”. Starting life as a 1965 Mustang fastback 2+2, Steve massaged this car to resonate at the “vibe” of the 1965 European racing scene. His creation is a road / rally Mustang that could have come right out of the European race preparation shops of Alan Mann or John Wyer.
The goal of this project was to create a road / rally Mustang that would have been both “period correct” as well as “state of the art “ in terms of design philosophy, available componentry and assembly techniques back in the era of 1965-1966. In terms of engineering and design influence, Steve drew a lot from the Colin Chapman, the founder / designer of Lotus who was absolutely obsessed with light weight. Steve paid homage to Colin Chapman in three ways. First, the engine is an actual 300 cubic inch Ford / Lotus – four cam unit, the same engine that powered the 1965 Indy 500 winning Lotus / Ford piloted by the late Jim Clark. Designed by Ken Duckworth and built at his Cosworth Engineering Race Shop, the all- aluminum engine was coveted for its lightweight and high horsepower output. Second, the wheels are of center lock /knock off style that replicate the look of the Lotus Formula One and the Lotus 30 sports racing wheel: their cast magnesium construction makes for reduced up-sprung weight at all four corners. Third, Steve installed a 4 speed transmission weighing in at a feather light weight of 63 pounds sourced from CR Racing.
Count Martini of the Martini – Rossi wine company was an avid sponsor of racing cars during this period. Painted in the iconic Martini livery of white with a blue, red and black striping, the Mustang had the correct visual impact of the era. The car was filled with a multitude of major and minor modifications throughout. Yet, those touches are subtle and unobtrusive and blend seamlessly into the overall design. Example, European rally gauges were installed on the dash with a goose neck rally lamp mounted along the inner A pillar. Other touches hark back to Carroll Shelby’s 1964 COBRA Daytona Coupe such as a differential cooler with a very sanitary wire mesh protection screen. With details and modifications too numerous to list here, let it suffice to say that Steve Stroppe pulled off this build in his characteristic quality style.