Auto Service World
Feature   December 1, 2010   by CARS Magazine

Strangeness and Sensibility in ‘Vegas

With a month gone by since the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the AAPEX/SEMA shows, it's time reflect on what's hot and what's not in the aftermarket. Here's my take:

With a month gone by since the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the AAPEX/SEMA shows, it’s time reflect on what’s hot and what’s not in the aftermarket. Here’s my take:

Kids are nuts. Or maybe I’m getting old, because the hot paint trend at SEMA this year is flat black. Yes, I mean rattle-can/primer/I-can’t-afford-to-finish-my-car black. I saw literally millions of dollars of exotics, including Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce and Bentley, stripped of their flawless paint jobs and rendered into something I last saw on my old Camaro in 1979. And back then my girlfriend didn’t want to be seen in the car. Looking back, I don’t blame her. I know, those black paintjobs are perfect and probably cost a fortune to lay down, but WTH?

They’re listening to the repair community. I saw lots of products designed to make repairs more efficient without major upgrades in technology. Four examples: Rancho had lift kits pre-installed into quick struts for no-hassle installation and Purolator launched a seven-number oil filter program that replaces dozens of different oil filters. Ingersoll Rand showed an impact tool with a head small enough to get into places like suspension and engine mounting bolts, and Cardone displayed a clever little in-line filter for the power steering return line that keeps the shrapnel that you should have flushed out of that reman pump unit. There were lots of others.

The diagnostic tools are getting better. And by better” I mean simpler, with units that have bigger, easier-to-read displays and step-wise menus that are finally making it possible to use the full potential of the tools without a Ph. D in electrical engineering. I also saw units designed for some of the less common European brands, a great development for Euro specialty shops wondering how they’re going to compete with the dealerships going forward.

Vegas is still Vegas. While the Great Recession has hit Nevada harder than any other U.S. state, Las Vegas still looks and feels like the Hollywood image it cultivates. From the fountains at Bellagio, the volcano at the Mirage and the pirates in front of Treasure Island, it’s easy to forget that this is a state under economic siege. I still like Bugsy’s Bar at the Flamingo, but I’ll never tell why.

If you’ve never been to the AAPEX/SEMA show, find a way to get there at least once. There’s an Italian proverb that goes “See Naples and die.” But they never saw Caesar’s Palace. But bring your wallet … our Editor Tom Venetis picked up the cheque for my burger and draft beer after the plane landed and it came to 28 bucks, making it the last tab he’ll pick up for a long, long time. Of course there’s always our Publisher…

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