SEMA shows off modified models

Enthusiasts in the “tuner” community often purchase used cars in order to make modifications to them and turn them into highly-customized machines. Those with a gift for this sort of work can breathe new life into what many would consider to be an older automobile.

Every year, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show demonstrates the full potential of what can be done with a few new parts and modifications. The event, held in Las Vegas, features a number of highly-customized rides from some of the top modders in the world. MSN recently chose a few of the tuners at this year’s event in order to highlight the hidden potential lurking just underneath the hood in some popular models.


Toyota’s Scion brand is specifically aimed at tuner enthusiasts, as the Japanese automaker heavily markets the vehicles as highly-customizable rides. Yet even Toyota probably didn’t foresee what James Lin would do with his Scion tC. A see-through glass hood and a lime-green carbon fiber body are just the beginning of the extensive modifications made to this ride. Underneath the hood, Lin added a God Speed turbocharger system for enhanced power, an Air Lift suspension, DC Sport air filter, front-mount intercooler and more. Yet he didn’t focus only on performance – the interior of the car features four 6.5-inch monitors in addition to a 32 inch TV hooked up to a Blu-Ray player.


Most tuners tend to gravitate toward Asian brands, as they’re usually affordable on the used car market and easy to modify. In fact, customizing a high-end European luxury vehicle seems kind of counterintuitive.


The team at StaSIS Engineering didn’t seem to mind, as they went to work on a $ 161,000 Audi R8, calling their new ride the “Extreme Edition.” In addition to the bright red paint job and new 20-inch wheels, the team went underneath the hood to make some changes to the R8’s already-powerful 5.2-liter V10. Thanks to their modifications, the R8 is now powered by a frightening 710-horsepower engine with 523 pound-feet of torque – an 185-hp, 132 lb-ft upgrade over the factory model. Extreme, indeed.


Drivers looking to get into the tuner lifestyle might want to start with something a bit less pricey. Budding modders may want to look online for some advice, then find a used car on a budget so that they can sink money into turning it into a champion.


James Dunsford is a New Jersey used cars specialist for New Jersey Auto Auction