The SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show is truly unique among car shows. For one, it's not open to the public. The SEMA show is for members of the trade only, so unless you build, sell or are in some way associated with the aftermarket auto parts and accessories industry you can't go. That restriction doesn't limit the attendance, however, as the SEMA auto show floor looks about as crowded as any of the big city shows.
Of course, that could have something to do with its location. Held in Las Vegas at the end of October or early November, the SEMA show has more than its share of post-show "business meetings." SEMA is also known for what could best be called a "casual" dress code. With thinly attired models at just about every show stand, the SEMA auto show makes the Paris Motor Show look like a nunnery.
One place where you won't find the bikini models hanging out is at the displays sponsored by the big car manufacturers. Although the SEMA show is intended as a showcase for the latest aftermarket auto parts and accessories, its popularity in the last decade has caught the interest of the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers). General Motors now shows up with no less than a dozen fully customized cars and trucks while Ford stakes out plenty of space and does the same. Chrysler goes so far as to create its own on-site "speed shop" to showcase its latest SRT vehicles along with factory-built parts and accessories. There's plenty of interest from the imports, too, making the SEMA show an unofficial international auto show.
Aside from the factory support, the SEMA auto show stands out because of the almost limitless number of small companies that come to Vegas to show off their latest new products. With over 2 million feet of floor space, just walking the floor to see it all takes at least a day or two. There are dozens of aisles of audio systems, body kits, exhaust systems, wheels and numerous other aftermarket auto parts. If it can be bolted, glued or suction-cupped onto your car, you'll not only find it at the SEMA show, it will be available in five different colors.