The Mega Trucks are Here!

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show brings new trends every year, and 2018 was no exception. In the past there have been years where swaps dominated, while other years were the year of the Ford, or the year of the rat rod. While there are literally all types of lifted, lowered, modified, utility, and swap vehicles at SEMA, there’s always something new.

For years, we’ve watched as trucks have gotten higher and higher, as for a while it seemed to be a competition to who could build the highest bolt-on lift kit using factory suspension parts. 2018 broke the mold, as we saw a number of trucks show up with completely custom fabricated suspensions, and some that were even taller than monster trucks! Even those with kits were now using coil-overs, and we saw more flexed-out trucks than we have ever seen.

Of course, there was the usual smorgasbord of diesel-motivated trucks and cars, including some pretty neat swaps. The clean 2.8L Cummins seemed to be the engine of choice, as the 160-hp engine motivated everything from trucks, to SUVs, to a pretty cool-looking older Jaguar. There was also the Wild “Big Willy” Jeep, a classic Army Jeep that has been oversized by 164%, making it more the size of a Super Duty.

As a counterpoint to the 2.8L, we also saw a number of old-school 5.9L Cummins 12-valve-swapped trucks, including a number of pretty wild Power Wagons. Most of these engines had performance modifications that led to double or triple the factory horsepower, as these engines are just all-too-easy to modify.

In the yearly competition of “Who has the hottest new truck,” Ford again led the charge, with a number of modified F250 and F350s, although the L5P GM pickups have definitely made a surge. If you’re a fan of Ram, not to worry, there were plenty of those to drool over too.

With 2018 in the books, we can honestly say we’re glad to see the variety of extreme and usable trucks that showed up to the show. Off-Road vehicles were extremely capable (some even had rear steer) while the 2.8L swaps killed on mileage and capability. The swaps were packing some power, and the newest rides featured welders, flatbeds, and extreme 4×4 (or 6×6 in a couple cases!) capability. Want to modify your diesel? There are more great options than ever.

New body style Fords are as popular as ever, and they’re getting taller and taller. This bright red Blue Oval absolutely dwarfs its 44-inch Fury tires thanks to a massive coil-over lift.
Unhappy that GM doesn’t builld a diesel SUV? This owner sought a fix by combining a classic Suburban and 6.6L GM Duramax power.
One of the cleanest square-body GM’s we’ve seen in a long time was built by Cody Veibell. The ‘81 Chevrolet K20 featured an LBZ Duramax engine for power, and a suspension, engine compartment, and interior you could virtually eat off of.
2018 was perhaps one of the first years that we saw more than one 6×6 creation. This clean Denalli stood above the crowd with dual dual rear wheels, giving a total of 10 wheels and tires!
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, the Big Willys is a Willys Jeep that has been overgrown by 164 percent, and fitted with a new 2.8L Cummins crate engine.
One of the meanest-looking diesel rides was this old-school Power Wagon, which was motivated by 12-valve Cummins power. A hood stack hinted at a no-nonsense amount of horsepower, and a huge airbag suspension put the Dodge in rarified air.
It wasn’t just the trucks that were bigger and badder this year–the wheel and tire setups followed suit, with 24, 26 and even 28-inch wheels.
Are dual diamond stacks a new trend or a nuisance? We’ll let you readers be the judge on this one.
Weaver Customs is known for its wild diesel creations, and this year’s Full Metal Jacket ‘41 Power Wagon didn’t disappoint. The FMJ used a simple combination of a TH350 transmission, 205 transfer case, and 4BT Cummins engine for power.
Deuces Garage kept the rat rod flag flying at SEMA 2018, with this Cartoons-inspired Cummins-powered rat panel truck.
HornBlasters continued with the Mega Truck trend by showing up with a Chevy that was as over-the-top as its train horns. With some serious cut tires, it looked more than ready to leave the pavement behind.
Nothing says stance llike a First-Generation Dodge, and this ride went the extra mile by adding a completely custom front and rear suspension setup for an extremely elevated stance.
Builders are starting to push the boundaries more than more of what they can fit in the “bed” of a pickup truck. Don’t have room for the rockcrawler in the trailer? How about behind (and above) your head??
This four-linked Ford towered even above the other lifted trucks, and was one of the few rides we’ve seen that had a vertical height that made dual rear tires looks small.
In addition to their utility, traction bars and link bars are now becoming style symbols. These S-shaped square ladder bars were perhaps the wildest we’ve seen yet.
From wild to utilitarian: this older Cummins-powered Ram said “show and go” thanks to classic lines, an innovative flatbed, and 10-lug wheels.
We’ve never thought of Sprinter vans as intimidating, but Cliffride’s diesel-powered people mover was there to prove us wrong. The Sprinter was mostly stock, save for a 4×4 conversion and massive tires for handling arctic terrains.
This bright red conversion in the Skyjacker Suspensions booth was perhaps one of our favorite rides of the show. It was motivated by a 6BT Cummins, of course.
Another classic repower continued this year’s trend of 2.8L Cummins engines appearing in smaller vehicles. Not only is this Land Cruiser now packing 160 hp, it’s also a lot cleaner burning than the original.
Any Level Lift has become a popular SEMA regular with its hydraulic F350 lift kits that can allow the end user to put their ride at virtually any height.
Is it the ‘90s all over again? We dig the cool flames on this square-body GM, and were pleasantly surprised to see it was Cummins powered.
This flexed-out Ford proved that it wasn’t just new trucks at SEMA. Older rides from the ‘90s are poised to make a comeback, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see more of them in the future.
The Hauk Designs 6×6 looked like it could get out of about any situation, not just because it was six-wheel drive, but also because it had a compound-turbocharged Cummins for power!
Perhaps the most innovative single feature of the show was in the Ford booth. This desert-inspired diesel had bedsides that lifted up to produce an entire array of utility drawers, and the truck even had a welder that pulled out of the rear spare tire well! Once finished with wrenching, the bedsides dropped back into place to protect the drawers from damage.


With the 2021 SEMA Show just around the corner, we thought we’d share some of our favorites from a past SEMA Show. This is our annual “Trucks Of SEMA”, from 2018. Check out our Facebook page (@dieselworldmag) during the SEMA Show this year November 2nd-5th) We’ll be filming all day, every day at the show and sharing what we found every afternoon.

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