Our Favorite Jeeps from the 2017 SEMA Show


Nov. 07, 2017 By Justin Fort

Of the hundreds - probably more than 1000 - vehicles on display at this year's Specialty Equipment Market Association's (SEMA) 2017 convention in Las Vegas, Jeeps of varying coda were a powerful presence. Literally, they were all over the place - click a camera randomly and the photo will probably have a Jeep in it. Show attendees couldn't walk a yard without stubbing a toe on two. Stated with some chagrin: soooo many Jeeps.

See the Full Gallery with over 100 Jeeps from SEMA

2017's apparent Jeepitocracy is not without reason. JK-model Wranglers are one of the most popularly modified platforms on the road (second only to the 5.0 Mustang in dollars spent per vehicle), and Jeep corporate has encouraged this sincerely and reliably. First-time off-roaders in new Jeeps have also helped increase awareness amongst low-info Americans about the need to preserve off-road access, and that's always a good thing. Too, four-wheelers buy a lot of parts, which is good for the automotive aftermarket.

In a well-humored moment, Off-Road.com's editor assigned this SEMA 2017 Jeep gallery to the resident 4Runner 'froader (yours truly). Therefore, whilst some of the 100-plus Jeeps pictured in the gallery were shot because they are clearly trail-capable rigs any Toyota guy would 'froad with, others are included because they made us laugh, and help perpetuate the mall-crawler stereotype that haunts Jeep owners (and Toyota guys feed upon). If we missed your Jeep on display, be thankful – for our next act, we're reporting on SEMA Jeeps that should never see dirt.

Meanwhile, let's be thankful for all the non-JKs that people had on display at the big show: after all, variety is the spice of life. Now, for the Jeeps (we also peeled out a few examples of Jeeps that made us smile - for the right reasons - from pro builders and local shops done right).

Westin Automotive's 2014 Wrangler JK Two-Door

We stopped at Westin's booth to care about their JK because it had scratches. Not on the body, mind you, which was somewhat tastefully wrapped, but in the hardware. The skidplates were gouged and the fender lips were bent. This JK had been used, much to Westin's credit. Steve Barber, the company's eCommerce director, told us that this Jeep had 26,000 miles on it, at least half of which were in the dirt. Bravo. The stock engine runs through a two-speed Atlas. A Rock Krawler long-arm setup and a three-inch rear stretch hang from Rock Krawler and Bilstein shocks, but the rest of the underbits will change shortly as this JK is being treated to eight-lugged Dana 60s and a suite of 40's.

JCROffRoad's 1989 Comanche

According to JCR's Daryl Hutson – out from Kalamazoo, MI - JCR's "Trailside Pizza" delivery truck was built as a tongue-in-cheek four-wheeling concept, because who doesn't want pizza delivered anywhere in 30 minutes? The state of power is headed by a blown 4.0-liter (prepared by Boosted Tech), and the interior matches the late-model XJ front-end. The custom long-arm setup was designed by Ironman 4x4 in North Carolina. The rear axle is double-triangulated, while the front suspension is an adjustable four-link, though both axles are Teraflex Dana 60s, bookeneded by 37" Nitto Trail Grapplers (of which we saw lots at this year's SEMA).

Teraflex Wrangler JK Two-Door

Why this Jeep? Because of what it wasn't. SEMA is choked with over-the-top Jeeps sporting features far beyond the ken of garage-based builders, so when we happened across Steve "This Jeep Makes Me Cry Because It's So Beautiful" Thomas' simplistic two-door JK, we stopped to chat with Dennis "The Man" Wood about it. Rolling on basic Summit steelies (what's orange powdercoat reportedly cost more than the wheels) and 35" BFGs, it was an easy everyman daily driver. The subtle Teraflex three-inch CT3 kit (their basic "all you need" job) and a few tasteful Teraflex necessities meant there was room for 37's if Thomas was feeling ribald.

Armadillo Liner's 2000 Grand Cherokee Limited WJ

When you absolutely, positively want to make your Jeep heavier... You've heard it 100 times. Let's be realistic, however - adding 50 or 60lbs of exterior coating to your Jeep doesn't make much difference when it rolls on tons, such as with Joey Mendoza Jr's WJ. The 111" wheelbase is plus-6" over stock, with 2010 Super Duty axles surrounded by Radar tires on beadlocks. RuffStuff suspension and reservoired Bilsteins keep the solid axles in place when the OE 4.7 corporate V8 shows up to do its job. And yes, the entire truck was coated with Armadillo Liner, then painted a rather tasteful Eastwood burgundy. It was nicely done, too, proving that coating the sheetmetal with a spray-on liner can look good.

Superwinch's 2006 Wrangler "FrankenBrute" TJ

Because we like to keep you up to date, yes, this is the same FrankenBrute Off-Road.com covered previously, but completely different, which is why we cared. Builder Greg Henderson (out of Michigan, who towed the ‘Brute all the way behind a ridiculous big-block rat-rod tow sled) redid the thing, with a new wood bed made of old northern-Michigan ash. Oh, and now it's blue. The same Dana 60 and 70 underpin the body and 27” stretch between wheels, and the same thumping 5.0-liter Jeep straight-six is under the hood (pending mechanical superchargification in the coming weeks). As it stood in Superwinch's booth at SEMA, the ‘Brute is now less a Willys throwback and more of a trail-pig workhorse, but its purpose is still the same: Henderson uses interest in FrankenBrute to raise awareness of Shaken Baby Syndrome everywhere it goes.

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