Ridiculous 1,000hp "Hellephant" headlines another crazy SEMA
It’s known as the Hellephant, and the joke at the world’s biggest modified car show in Las Vegas this week is that there is an Hellephant in the room. You better believe it. This star of SEMA 2018 is a mighty big beast…
It’s an engine, a 426-cube (7.0-litre) HEMI V8 with 1,000 horsepower and not far short of 1,000 lb ft of torque (700 Nm) and in that wonderful American way it comes on a crate with everything you need to drop straight in to your Dodge Charger. Fiat Chrysler parts company Mopar says a “plug ’n play” aftermarket engine kit offering 1,000bhp is a world first.
No argument from us on that. At a time when classic car engine swaps are veering towards the electric motor and battery variety, the supercharged Hellephant is a booming endorsement of unbridled petrol-powered V8 grunt. But then, the 2018 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show – aka the epicentre of the modified car world – is that all over.
But why Hellephant? It’s a nod to the original Mopar HEMI 426 engine, first introduced in 1964, which was nicknamed Elephant because it was so large and powerful. The “hell” comes from Mopar’s 700-horsepower Hellcrate engine released at last year’s SEMA show.
Order an Hellephant and it will arrive on a crate with all ancillaries and instructions on how to fit it – Mopar says it is “almost turnkey”. Installation is designed for pre-1976 Dodge street and off-road vehicles, but really, what else but a Charger? That’s what FCA thought anyway and at SEMA showed off the new engine under the hood of a 1968 Dodge “Super Charger” concept.
Apart from 1,000 horses stampeding from it, the Super Charger concept gets a thorough workover with longer wheelbase, lower, wider body with flared guards front and rear, new bumpers and bonnet scoop, Challenger SRT Hellcat headlamps behind the grille and lots of upgrades inside including Dodge Viper seats. Oh, and red LEDs light up the exhaust pipes… just in case you don’t hear it coming.
All in all quite a 50th birthday present for the mighty Dodge Charger then.
What else would we like our ride pimped with from SEMA 2018?
Well, we’ll take the new Ford GT Carbon, making its debut at SEMA, any day of the week – see our story on that here. We’re not so sure about Honda’s highlight, a cross between its Ridgeline pickup truck and Pioneer off-roader utility vehicle. The result is a kind of huge, mad beach buggy with four seats and big open rear load tray. Officially it’s "a physical thought exercise of what the ultimate off-road Honda four-wheeled vehicle could look like.” It was cooked up by Honda’s US-based design team.
Nissan came up with five vehicles, each modified to suit different applications. A pair of huge Titan pickups were transformed into Red Cross emergency ambulance and animal rescue truck, while a Nissan Kicks (Juke-type crossover for the US) was made into a Sound Machine – complete with fold-down DJ deck and speakers everywhere including 1000 watt subwoofers.
But the Nissans we like best are the 370Zs, one called Project Clubsport 23 and the other the Formula Drift 370Z of three-time Formula Drift champion Chris Forsberg.
Project Clubsport 23 is designed as the ultimate Zed car that anyone can build up for themselves using Nissan Motorsports aftermarket parts. And the parts used are tasty: from 401PS (396bhp) 3.0-litre V6 to enhancements to the suspension, steering and brakes, plus custom body panels and burnt orange body wrap. Inside diamond-pattern upholstery features as a throwback to the vinyl used in the original 240Z.
A look at SEMA wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Kia stand where four different concepts present four different takes on the Korean firm’s new luxury eight-seat SUV for the US market, the Telluride. Point of the exercise is to show how good off-road the Telluride is, and Kia built a huge outdoor off-road course to demonstrate the fact to show visitors.
You can get a clue about the fearless four’s trailblazing ambitions from their names: Horizon Roamer, Cadet Leader, Desert Drifter and Baja Glider.
There’s one Kia at SEMA this year you’d be hoping not to ever come across. It’s a Stinger GT, the firm’s highly regarded 365 horsepower fastback, done up as a patrol car for the Queensland police down under. The Aussie cops like it so much they have ordered 100 of them…