Auto Industry News: SEMA News Roundup, Wrangler Pickup, Honda Open Air Concept, & Huge Addition For Sentinel

Consider this week’s Auto Industry News an incentive to try new things. Our SEMA News roundup highlights some of the coolest builds the show had to offer and a glimpse at the exciting new products set to debut next year. Jeep promises to end all the secrecy by revealing the new Wrangler Pickup at next month’s LA Auto Show. The Honda Open Air concept vehicle shows a wacky, yet seriously impressive look at future off-roading. And the investment firm Sentinel picked up Holley Performance Parts, joining forces to redefine performance. (“This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”) Plus, as the off-road season winds down, NASCAR heats up.

Wrangler Pickup Debut

With the excitement of SEMA and all the unique modifications we might make this holiday season, it’s hard for the Jeep faithful not be pumped on the new Jeep Wrangler pickup, drawing inspiration from the old Scrambler platform. The name is still unofficial, as rumors continue to swirl around the long-awaited vehicle. However, a release date has finally been confirmed, with the groundbreaking debut due to occur at next month’s LA Auto Show.

The new Wrangler Pickup will debut at the November 2018 LA Auto Show

While what to call it and what we can expect from it exactly in terms of performance remain a mystery, it is safe to assume that consumer interest is high. Jeep has already gone on record acknowledging the pickup will share its styling, underpinnings, and powertrains with the new JL Wrangler. (You can read more about our speculations here.) Spy shots be damned! After incessant Googling and refreshing for leaks, fans will finally see the big picture. Consider it an early Christmas present from FCA.

SEMA News: Highlights Reel

Others, like the various aftermarket vendors and enthusiasts of SEMA, have found more productive ways of waiting for what’s next for Jeep. And that’s by not waiting at all. Bruiser Conversions was in the shop, BEEFING up this Jeep JL build with a Corvette V8 and stretched chassis. With builds like this, it’s hard to argue against Jeep as the ultimate blank canvas for aftermarket potential. Not to mention it won 4X4/SUV of the year…again.

Bruiser Conversions built a beastly modified JL Wrangler for SEMA 2018.

In other SEMA news, Ford had a buzzing and successful show as well, nabbing three awards. The F-150 won Truck of the Year, while the beloved Mustang took home Sport Coupe of the Year. And the Ford Focus, a vehicle that will soon meet its end in the US, won Sport Compact of the Year. The blue oval also turned heads as Maxlider Brothers Customs rocked the show floor with their ’74 Bronco build for the United Pacific Industries (UPI) booth. Equipped with a supercharged 5.0-liter Coyote V8, the UPI Bronco sits pretty on BF Goodrich 37 x 12.5/20 tires wrapping 20-by-12.5-inch wheels.

SEMA news highlight: Check out this wicked '74 Bronco!

In addition to impressive builds and concepts, SEMA also had some standout, must-have aftermarket products worthy of any Christmas list. The unique new Teraflex spare tire carrier for the JL Wrangler would make any Jeep fan happy at the holidays. And for the truck lover in your life, the Castel Gate King allows for more customizable tailgate rest with eight different adjustment positions. Check out the show’s New Product Awards winners here. You’ll have that holiday gift list checked off in no time!

Honda Open Air Concept

Meet the Honda Open Air, perhaps the coolest—and most beastly—concept build to emerge at SEMA 2018. This seasonally appropriate Frankenstein off-road fiend is half Ridgeline and half Pioneer 1000 side-by-side that is FULL of potential.

While there are no performance or specific structural details, as this is only a concept, there are likely suspects. Chances are, this is the Ridgeline’s 3.5 liter V6 with a gutted frame (so it hauls ass). Not only that but it features all the quirky and sporty Pioneer accessories to make it off-road ready. Hopefully one day it will be more than mere concept and take on a mountainside near you.

Sentinel Acquires Holley Performance

According to reports, Sentinal, a private equity firm that invests in promising companies in the lower midmarket has bought Holley Performance Products. Holley is the enthusiast-favorite company, specializing in branded performance products like fuel injection systems, pumps, and intake manifolds. If you needed any more on their credentials, Holley has been the official carburetor of NASCAR and the NHRA for over forty years.

Sentinel will be pairing Holley with Driven Performance Brands, a company that produces high performance exhaust systems and drivetrains. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the performance market will be on the edge of its seat waiting to see what the collaboration produces.

Around the Circuit

For the second year in a row, Brock Heger took home the 2018 Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series national championship. At the beautiful Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, AZ, he proved himself the cream of the crop in the 1000 UTV class to the tune of $15,000. It capped off another legendary season for Heger, who finished on the podium for all but one race. The nearest in total points was 64 points behind. At this point, the young rider might be thinking dynasty.

It’s a headline you might remember from earlier this season, but Sunday was ALL Kevin Harvick. The veteran NASCAR driver took the first stage at Texas Motor Speedway in the second of three races for the round of 8, and didn’t look back. He will advance after Sunday’s victory. Clint Bowyer, however, finds himself in a much trickier position after coming 26th. In the opening lap, he made contact with Denny Hamlin and needed serious repairs. Next week the field goes to Phoenix.

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