SEMA 2018 was definitely a high water mark for the team at Factory Five. It was by far the largest, busiest, and most successful SEMA Show since we began attending in 1998 with only a two man crew and a small 10′ x 10′ display. 20 years later would find us with a massive indoor AND outdoor display including 15 cars spread throughout the show from the factory and also our customers. This year would be our greatest effort and success despite some heartache and struggle. Factory Five’s Tony Zullo has been the brains and the hustle behind our SEMA effort for the last five years. On his way to the airport, he learned that his father had passed away. He returned home, and the entire Factory Five crew and extended family of customers stepped up on his behalf. Tony would make the show four days later knowing everyone was there for him.
Factory Five driver Chris Ronni arrived in Las Vegas direct from Wareham, MA on Thursday, October 25. The indoor display would be the first to be set-up. Chris single-handedly unloaded the truck and set-up the indoor display. Factory Five engineers Jesper and Jim headed out early Friday, and joined Chris along with customers Ron Everitt and Freddy Simmons. The crew would set-up the outdoor display, and prepare the live build car in the “Ford Out Front” area.
This year’s SEMA will be remembered as a group effort as everyone helped make each of the three areas a success.
Inside Central Hall, directly in front of Ford, is where our indoor booth was located. We decided to focus on the new Gen 2 Hot Rod and our Hot Rod Trucks. Jim Schenck would be the lead, and had GREAT support from Freddy Simmons, Ryan Valin, Stacy Jones, and Jim and his crew from the Mott College Build School.
At our inside booth, our newest production ’35 Hot Rod Truck with full fenders, windows, A/C, and 691 HP supercharged Edelbrock 5.0L Coyote engine.
Freddy Simmons’ entered into the 2018 Battle of the Builders with his beautiful LS-powered supercharged ’35 Truck. Freddy’s truck featured the brand-new nose and grill design. Customers can now build the truck with one of two front end designs.
A tremendous amount of work went into the all-new Gen 2 ’33 Hot Rod frame. The rolling chassis was on display to show off the chassis changes, and allow people to sit in it and experience the increased cockpit size.
The headliner to our four car indoor display was the brand-new Hot Rod 2.0. The car has been upgraded over the original Hot Rod with more space, more rigid chassis, improved body and fitment, and a host of other changes. Click here to read about the changes we’ve made to the Gen 2 ’33 Hot Rod.
Factory Five President Dave Smith discusses Hot Rod 2.0 with Dennis Pittsenbarger from Power Automedia in this short video from Factory Five’s indoor booth, SEMA 2018.
Above & Below: Big and tall guys got a chance to try out the new bigger cockpit of the Gen 2 ’33 Hot Rod.
The Factory Five ’33 Hot Rod got a ton of press from the show “Car Warriors” some years back. Dave Smith with Ray McClelland (left) from Full Throttle Kustomz and his buddy Bruce.
Slideshow of Indoor Booth Photos
This is the first year at SEMA we’ve had an outdoor display, and it could not have been possible without some amazing customers AND their amazing cars. Here’s the action in the Factory Five outdoor display which was on the northwest corner of the “Ford Out Front” drift ring.
Above & Below: Chris R. and his crew from FormaCars built these two beautiful cars. Above is the 2019 London Cobra Show Raffle Car and you can buy tickets online here. The Type 65 Coupe below is a dramatic modern version of the classic Daytona Coupe with modern interior, running gear, and comforts.
Factory Five customer Erik Treves drove all the way out from Alabama to have his full fendered red ’35 Hot Rod Truck in the Facatory Five display. Below: NASCAR driver Joey Logano LOVED Erik’s red truck. Joey is building a 900 HP Factory Five drift truck in a few months.
Above & Below: Jeff Moore and his fantastic crew at Black Label Speed Shop built this twin-turbo powered Factory Five ’35 Hot Rod Truck with a powertrain from Nelson Racing Engines that makes close to 1,000 HP!
Power Automedia interview Factory Five’s Tony Zullo and Black Label Speed Shop’s Jeff Moore on the Black Label ’35 Hot Rod Truck.
Above: Brian from iWire dropped off this pristine 818C freshly built by one of his customers. Factory Five customer Wayne Presley was on hand for most of the show to answer questions on the 818 model. Wayne has built more 818s than anyone else in the country.
Below: SKJ’s twin-turbo monster GTM has been at SEMA before, and never fails to impress.
The Factory Five outdoor display with customer cars and our big rig was directly across from the Hot Wheels display. Tony Zullo and Dave Smith noticed that this life size version of Hot Wheels’ famous “Boneshaker” was built with a Factory Five Mk1 Roadster chassis!
Slideshow of Outdoor Display Photos
Live Coupe Build in Ford Out Front
Eight weeks before the SEMA Show, we decided to add a live build in the “Ford Out Front” area to our SEMA effort. We assembled a team of accomplished customer-builders, and in three days during the show, we built a white 5.0L Coyote-powered Gen 3 Type 65 Coupe!
The four man build team of Jesper Ingerslev (FFR lead), Ron Everitt, Henry Renaud, and Jeff Kleiner would begin on Tuesday morning with a bare frame, and end Thursday night with a car ready to drive and race! We’ve done live builds before at car shows, but we’ve never put the car on the track the second the last bolt is tightened.
On Wednesday morning, NASCAR driver Joey Logano stopped by to do the honors and start the engine for the first time!
Left to Right: SEMA announcer and TV personality Jared Deanda, Joey Logano, and Dave Smith.
The live build would be filmed as part of a 1-hour PowerNation SEMA Special with host Katie Osborne (above with Factory Five’s Tony Zullo).
Henry (middle) was part of the build team, and enjoyed rubbing elbows with celebrities who would stop by during the build each day. Here with Cristy Lee (left) from Veocity’s “All Girls Garage” and customer Karen S. (right).
The three day build was challenging for a number of reasons. First of all, we only had three days! We also had frequent interruptions as the build was documented and filmed. Lastly, when the car was done, there would be no easy shakedown or test drives, but rather the car would be driven full throttle right out of the gate.
The newly built Coupe would kick-off Friday’s drifting exhibitions with Factory Five President Dave Smith driving with passenger Katie Osborne from PowerNation. Check out the 1 minute 50 second video above. The car ran flawless, and was a testament to the reliability of the Ford running gear, the engineering of the Factory Five vehicle, and the talent of the assembled build team.
Slideshow of Live Coupe Build Photos
Slideshow of Coupe Drift Photos
Above: PowerAutomedia host Brian Petty interviewed Dave Smith on the live Ford build.
Most people assume that SEMA is all fun… the truth is that SEMA is a tremendous amount of work, and most nights show workers are happy to crash early. We do have some fun after hours, and wanted to share. Here are the highlights.
Above: Factory Five customer John Kabacinski and “All Girls Garage” host Cristy Lee at the Factory Five table at Thursday’s SEMA Awards dinner. John did all of the photography for the Factory Five crew at this year’s show.
Below: Also at the SEMA Awards dinner is PowerNation TV host of “Engine Power” Pat Topolinski and AutoWeek Magazine’s Sara Hartman at the Factory Five VIP table.
Wednesday night, the History Channel hosted a party at the pool deck of the Westgate Hotel. Dave Smith with Goldberg and Jo Coddington.
Tuesday night is one of the few times all year you will see Dave Smith wearing a tie and NOT wearing a leather jacket. The event is SEMA’s PAC (Political Action Commitee) reception. Here with Karen Salvaggio (left), Jo Coddington, and Cristy Lee.
Wisconsin Hot Rod Radio interviews Dave at their make shift studio. Podcast to be released shortly.
This is Halloween in Vegas! Elvis and Evel Knievel showed up.
Slideshow of SEMA After Hours Photos
We spoke to over 3,000 people (!), based on the number of people who requested our information in one of our three booths, at this year’s SEMA Show. Two days after the show, PowerNation released this interview which discusses our investment in our Hot Rod Truck, our second generation Hot Rod 2.0, and our purchase of Rat’s Glass Bodies.
It is impossible to thank everyone, but huge thanks to all of the Factory Five customers who helped us, the great people at Ford Performance, and the hard working staff at SEMA who put on the greatest car show on earth every year.