SEMA: Five project cars you don’t want to miss

by | Nov 1, 2019 | 0 comments

SEMA is known to be the world’s largest trade show for the performance and specialty automotive aftermarket, and a cornerstone of the event is the Battle of the Builders (BOTB) competition.

Thousands of builders vie for a chance to just be entered in the competition, which features dozens of the best, most creative, custom builds automotive aftermarket artistry has to offer.

If you’re heading to SEMA, among the myriad offerings as part of the BOTB competition and the vehicle displays, here are five you should check out:

Go Canada Go!

Two entries from Canada have made their way to the BOTB Young Guns competition.

Matteo Medoro and his 1951 Ford pickup will be competing with nine other Young Guns finalists, including one other Canadian, at the SEMA Battle of the Builders competition.

SEMA Young Guns Matteo medoro

Medoro, 19, won “the golden ticket” invitation to SEMA by taking top honours at the Seattle Drift regional SEMA competition with his ’51 Ford rat rod.

He has been building the truck for more than two years with a steady training program of YouTube videos and advice from St. Joseph Catholic High School where he was a student.

Medoro is excited to be heading to Las Vegas for SEMA. It’s the culmination of years of practice; Medoro started buying equipment for projects when he was barely a teenager, saving his money for a welder.

“Probably when I was 13, I started building stuff,” he told CBC Edmonton.

Medora has learned well. Aside from the project truck, he won two gold medals in Skills Alberta autobody competitions and took a silver medal at Skills Canada in 2018.

Medoro will be joined by Penticton’s Chelsie Lesnoski and her Scion FR-S.

Lesnoski of Penticton, B.C. and her 2013 Scion FR-S was chosen by her peers in a public fan vote competition as the winner of the Young Guns Fan Vote competition.

SEMA chelsea Lesnoski Throttle Thrashers Young Guns Award

Lesnoski who is co-owner of Throttle Thrashers Garage, will receive a prize package that includes an all-expenses-paid trip for two to the 2019 SEMA Show, transportation of the winner’s vehicle, a designated feature spot at the Show and entry into the Battle of the Builders competition.

She is also the first female winner of the fan vote competition which ran from Sept. 14 to Oct. 4, 2019.

“Winning this final spot in the Young Guns competition was an absolute dream come true for me,” said Lesnoski, co-owner of Throttle Thrashers Garage, an automotive modification and customization business that does business in the Canada and U.S. “I hope this achievement encourages other young builders like myself to pursue their dreams no matter how out of reach they may seem.”

SEMA itself made special note for folks to pay some BOTB entries a visit.

sema botb

Rod Nielsen, the reigning BOTB Sports Compact champion, returns to test a new category with his Ford COE 800. The truck is powered by a Cummins twin-turbo engine and backed by a six-speed transmission. The modifications on the body are plentiful and include a hand-built sleeper. The suspension includes a modified bagged chassis.


Former Top 12 Young Gun Luke Merrill is building this ’27 Chevrolet Two-Door Sedan for his mom. It laid dormant in the family garage since 1990, and then he decided to bring it back to life. The build’s profile features a widebody front and rear. The engine is a 5.7L V8 with FiTech injection. The interior features a one-off dash with Autometer instrumentation.

sema botb

A Top 40 contestant last year, Steve Keefer returns in hopes of cracking the Top 12 at the 2019 Show. He returns with the finished version of the ’68 widebody Camaro that he debuted at last year’s Show. He has since made subtle modifications to the body, which features many one-off parts. The interior also includes one-off designs. The chassis and suspension come courtesy of Chassis Works.



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