This year the annual SEMA Show seemed to be overrun by lifted trucks, which is a huge statement for where our industry is headed and ALL good news here at Lift’d Trucks Magazine! However, the number of trucks on the show grounds did make it quite difficult to narrow all of the high-end builds down to our “Top 10” picks from the show.
While there were dozens of contenders, this list fittingly rounds out the lifted showing at SEMA 2015 nicely, running the range of big-name manufacturers, dually, diesels, Jeeps, SUVs, and even some UTV action up in the mix. As we couldn’t keep it to just ten, we also threw in our “Honorable Mentions” that made the final list. So sit back and enjoy some of the finest the lifted truck industry had to offer!
McGaughy’s Red GMC Z71
Known for their top-of-the-line suspension systems in both the lifted and the lowered worlds, McGaughy’s Suspension was out in full force at this year’s SEMA Show, showcasing a wide variety of new as well as tried-and-true suspension component lines complete with their all new 2016 catalog. To help them showcase their components in style, McGaughy’s dominated the show with a huge booth to include their giant hauler along with a number of built rides, including this 2015 GMC Sierra Z71 Duramax.
Photos: Lindsey Fisher, Mike Alexander, Doug Burkmire | Words: Lindsey Fisher
Featuring McGaughy’s own 7 to 9-inch Black SS Premium Lift Kit with Traction Bars, this GMC is busting with the best of the best in McGaughy’s parts, right down to the lift spindles and end links. A sleek and clean build, the GMC also features 24-inch Hostile wheels, 37-inch Toyo Open Country tires, FOX shocks, a custom grille from ABLAZE GRILLES and a custom exhaust system featuring MBRP components.
KEG Media 2015 Ford F-150 “Rapture”
A truly unique take on the famed Ford Raptor, owner of KEG Media, Robbie Bryant’s 2015 Ford F-150 “Rapture” truly stole the show. Built by Five-R Trucks, the same shop that built Robbie’s 2015 Chevy Dually “Recluse” for SEMA last year. This year’s build they were looking to top all previous builds and took it to the next level. Rapture features a 12-inch Bulletproof lift, Icon Vehicle Dynamics coilovers, and Atlas leaf springs. Rolling on 24×14-inch American Force Fuze wheels, which were powder coated Vegas Nut Meg by Prismatic Powders and feature spiked lug nuts from VV Concepts, wrapped in 40-inch Toyo Open Country tires. The truck also features full R1 Concepts disc brakes.
Under the hood, Rapture maintains its 3.5L EcoBoost engine with the factory turbos upgraded to Precision Turbos components by Walsh Motorsports. The engine is also fitted with an AFE Power limited edition intake paired with a 4-inch race exhaust with a y-pipe and FMIC. Tuning for the engine was done by Elite Performance and Tuning using SCT Performance software.
Aesthetically, Rapture features a plethora of modifications, including the addition of Addictive Desert Designs bumpers, steps, chase rack and fiberglass fenders and bedsides. The truck was also fitted with the new Rigid Industries Midnight Series light bars, custom painted headlights by Lawson’s Paint & Body featuring Diode Dynamics LED boards, a Monster Hooks swivel hook receiver, LineX bed liner, custom grille from Gravel Empire, and custom badges from Billet Badges. The truck is topped off with a custom Avery Dennison Matte Grigio and Brushed Bronze wrap by Impacted Wraps. Inside is just as custom as the exterior, featuring one-off Alea Leather seats, a Kicker Audio Soundgate stereo system, a P3 Cars boost gauge, and Huper Optik window tinting.
Beau Clover’s 2015 GMC Sierra 3500HD Denali “Gold Finger”
In the custom truck world, it’s fairly common to come across builds that are “all show, but no go,” but that’s exactly the opposite of what Beau Clover wanted with his custom GMC Sierra. Built specifically for SEMA, the 2015 Sierra 3500HD Denali nicknamed “Gold Finger” runs just as good as it looks, according to Johnny Ramirez of Fusion Bumpers. That’s because this fine piece of machinery is fitted with a twin-turbo setup featuring the truck’s stock turbo as well as a Garrett GTX4508R turbo with a 1.28 exhaust housing, put together by Big Twin Diesel, a FASS fuel system with H&S twin CP3 fuel pump kit, and an ATS transmission and 5-Star converter to support the truck’s big power.
Giving the truck it’s notable stance and optimal ride comfort is a 10-inch front lift from Cognito Motorsports, featuring Cognito control arms, FOX shocks on all four corners, 22-inch American Force Baus SS8 wheels and 40-inch Toyo tires. All suspension components are powder coated black by Ironhead Powder Coaters. Aesthetically, the truck features a number of modifications thanks to Expert Auto Care and Payette Auto Collision, including a Fusion front bumper with pre-runner bar and a custom 16-inch Rigid Industries single-row light bar, Fusion rear bumper with four Rigid dually lights, RK Sport carbon fiber hood, roll-up bed cover from Truck Covers USA, PlainANSimple headlights, steps from AMP Research, and Rigid Dually XL fog lights. With the black and gold theme and details throughout this was an easy choice for one of our Top Picks!
ShowTime Metal Works Ford F450
Built to showcase ShowTime Metal Works‘ amazing craftsmanship, this gorgeous 2015 Ford F450 Platinum Super Duty was one of the nicest trucks we saw at the show. Owned by ShowTime Metal Works’ CEO Brandon Naivar, this one-of-a-kind Ford features the works from STMW, including an impressive custom STMW 12-inch suspension lift with a 10-inch Atlas arched rear spring and KING coilovers on all four corners, STMW front and rear bumpers, and a custom grille. The truck also features custom rear frame work to accommodate a HornBlasters train horn kit, Rigid Industries lighting elements on the bumpers and grille, steps from AMP Research, Monster Hooks on the front frame, a FastWay trailer hitch, Retrax bed cover, Bed Rug bed liner, and custom Gold Standard headlights.
Performance wise, the Ford dually is far from lacking with a fully massaged engine with custom intercooler piping from 50 Built, a SCT tune, and a custom exhaust system with a massive JRL Metal Products M16 exhaust tip. Supporting the truck for all its on and off-road adventures are 24-inch 10-lug American Force wheels fitted with 38-inch Nitto Trail Grappler tires. Other notable features of the build include XS Power batteries and on-board power supply, a Weaver Fabrication high steer knuckle, PML differential cover and transmission pan, and plenty of powder coating by Prismatic Powders. A unique build that truly shows superior work and attention to detail, the STMW rolling billboard definitely won us over!
Mrs. KEG Media’s Little Red Wagon
For the most part, we all grew up with a little red wagon, but for SEMA 2015, the queen of KEG Media, Mrs. Keena Bryant, had her pint-size staple upgraded to a much more suitable toy: this 2015 GMC Yukon XL fittingly named “Little Red Wagon.”
Featuring a 10-inch lift from Cognito Motorsports (where the Yukon was featured in the booth), utilizing Cognito’s signature upper control arms, front FOX coilovers, FOX reservoirs in the rear, and 20-inch American Force wheels wrapped in 36-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw tires, the Yukon boasts plenty of ground clearance for some off-road fun while also giving the Bryant family plenty of room for their five young children on trips. But just because it’s a family vehicle doesn’t mean it isn’t equipped with plenty of power. Under the hood, you’ll find the 5.3L V8 has been upgraded with non-other than a P1SC supercharger from ProCharger with a custom tune, as well as a K&N air filter and Borla cat-back exhaust system.
In addition to the custom suspension setup and potent power upgrades, the Little Red Wagon features a roof rack from RackWorks, Rigid Industries lighting elements, side steps from AMP Research, a custom Gravel Empire grille, and custom PlainANSimple headlights, all working in unison to add the perfect look and feel to the build. The body of the Yukon is then finished off with a Matte Red Aluminum wrap from Arlon Automotive. Inside, the Yukon features custom Alea Leather Prestige Plus custom leather upholstery, US Speedo gauges and a full custom stereo system, featuring a PowerBass amp, speakers, and subwoofers connected to the factory 8-inch touch-screen head unit with navigation and Bluetooth.
An amazing build fit for a lifted truck show or a family vacation, Keena tells us the build wouldn’t have been possible without all of their sponsors and build partners, including: ADA Offroad, Cognito Motorsports, MS Authority, American Force Wheels, Arlon Automotive, Rigid Industries, Procharger, Mickey Thompson Tires, Gravel Empire Grills, Borla, PlainANSimple, Crystal Ninja, PowerBass, Alea Leather, Prismatic Powders, Amp Research, HornBlasters, Viair, VV concepts, R1 Concepts, and RackWorks. Finishing touches by The Crystal Ninja Kellie Defries with Swarovski Crystals on all the custom badging.
Roadster Shop 2015 “ColoRADo” Pre-Runner
While the Roadster Shop is known for its amazing custom car and truck builds usually of the Slam’d hot rod variety, they took on a new build genre this year, and the result is nothing short of amazing! The 2015 Colorado pre-runner built by Roadster Shop is a completely custom build, with everything from the suspension system making use of custom one-off components built by the famed shop. Sure, Roadster Shop is known for their custom chassis work but never before had the company built a pre-runner, making it an even more unique creation with zero boundaries and pre-conceived notions to hold them back.
Built atop a custom chassis with long-travel suspension system, the “ColoRADo” boasts 22 inches of front suspension travel and an even more amazing 27 inches of rear travel. This is thanks in part to a custom J-arm style setup in the front and a custom 4-link setup in the rear, with 2.5-inch FOX coils and 3.5-inch series bypass shocks with 2.5-inch bumpstops, as well as the front having been fit with completely custom designed and machined 4130 front arms, spindles and trailing arms.
Giving the ColoRADo the power to use its innovative suspension setup properly is a Wegner Dry Sump LS7 V8 engine with a FAST intake and C&R radiator, producing upwards of 730hp. This powerplant is backed by a 4L80e automatic transmission and a beefy Currie Full Floater 9-inch rearend. Taking the full punch from engine through the suspension system are 17-inch Ultra 103 wheels wrapped in 37-inch BF Goodrich Baja tires. Stopping power for this beast is provided by 6-piston Wilwood disc brakes in both the front and rear.
Finished off with a custom body featuring one-off carbon fiber fenders and bedsides, as well as a race-ready caged interior, the ColoRADo is definitely one of the most “custom” builds of the show and certainly locks in a spot in our Top Picks.
SGT. Steel Jeep
An ode to our military members, the 2015 Jeep Wrangler built by Brian Hayes of Brian’s Motorsports is not just a top build, but one with a great cause. Nicknamed SGT. Steel to “pay respect to our military and soldiers everywhere,” the custom Jeep features a 7.5-inch Rough Country long arm kit with a 1.25-inch body lift, FOX dual reservoirs, 14-inch Wilwood brakes, and 24×14-inch Forgiato Veraso-T wheels, finished in brushed aluminum with Root Beer powder coating, wrapped in 40-inch Toyo MTs. The Jeep also features some modifications under the hood, including an Injen Technologies cold air intake, Hypertech boost control system, and a MBRP stainless dual exhaust system, all putting more power to the pavement via 5.13 Yukon gears.
Setting the build even further apart from the rest, the Jeep features a slew of body modifications, including Smittybilt Armor fenders and rock guards, VPR 4×4 bumpers, a Rugged Ridge grille, Fab Fours roof rack, N-FAB steps, AVW Offroad headlights, JW Speaker taillights, and Rough Country lighting elements. The build is topped off with a factory Anvil paint scheme complimented with Root Beer powder coating from Mr. Speed Coatings on all the suspension components, bolt-ons and matching body panels. Inside, the Jeep features Roadwire Leather upholstery, an Alpine X009-WA head unit and a plethora of sound system components from Kicker.
Built in just one month and finished two days before SEMA 2015, this Jeep build wouldn’t have been possible without Brian’s team and his sponsors, including John Hall, Todd Abraham, BMS Offroad, Forgiato, Rough Country, Toyo Tires, Mr. Speed Coatings, VPR Bumpers, AVW Offroad, 4×4 SPOD, Oracle Lighting, FabFours, HornBlasters, Alpine, Kicker, Smittybilt, Rock Hard 4×4, Greg Leonard of Neely Precision, DV8 Offroad, VV Concepts, Wilwood Brakes, G2 Axle & Gear, and FOX Shocks.
CJ Dunlap’s 2015 Ford F-350 Platinum Dually “The Joker”
Influenced by the famed Joker character in the Batman comic series, CJ Dunlap’s 2015 Ford F-350 Platinum dually is one hell of a ride, but certainly not one to be joked about. Featuring a beefy custom 3rd Coast Suspension setup with FOX shocks, custom “Joker” 3D wrap with Illusion Purple accents to match the powder coating on the 40-inch JR Forged wheels and suspension components, and 24 (yes, you read that right) HornBlaster train horns, The Joker is “loud” in more ways then one.
In addition to the obvious upgrades seen at first glance, you’ll also find custom details like All Out Industries lights retrofitted with purple LEDs and custom lens covers, a Gravel Empire grille with custom Joker badging, and custom powder coated G2 differential covers. On the truck, you’ll also find Road Armor bumpers, AMP Research steps, Offroad LED Bars lighting components, Monster Hooks tow hooks, an Under Cover bed cover and BedRug bed liner. A build that pictures just can’t do justice, The Joker was a real crowdpleaser and certainly deserving of its Top 10 feature spot.
American Force Dodge/ATV combo
Featured in American Force’s booth in the Off-Road section of SEMA, this amazing RAM is definitely one for the books. Not only is it a fantastic looking ride with well-built custom details throughout, it was also one of the few trucks featured with the signature Truck Guru stacked “matching combo” build with a massive rack on the back to carry a matching ATV.
Owned by Patrick Davis, this massive Dodge features HDX bumpers, shocks from Cash Bred Off Road and FOX, a Kelderman air suspension setup, disc brakes from R1 Concepts, American Force wheels, Interco Tire Company tires, and a MBRP performance exhaust system. The truck is also equipped with modern LED lighting features from LED Concepts, a T-Rex grille and a silver paint scheme with custom graphics from Pixelwerks. This build would not have been possible without the aforementioned companies, as well as 3P Off Road, Truck Guru, TC Kustomz, Westin Automotive, Wade and Roadwire Leather.
Rolling Big Power (RBP) Tundra
Just one of RBP’s awesome builds showcased at SEMA this year, this formed and fitted Tundra we found outside South Hall had to be one of our favorites due to the originality and details put into every inch of this build. There are very few really badass Toyota Tundra builds keeping up with the Chevy and Ford builds, but this one definitely stood out from the crowd.
Featuring a full Bulletproof suspension lift, coilovers from Icon Vehicle Dynamics, and 20-inch RBP wheels wrapped in meaty 38-inch Nitto tires, the RBP build reps some of the best companies in performance gear, right down to the R1 Concepts disc brakes. Aesthetically, the Tundra is just as well equipped, with RBP bumpers, an N-FAB front skid plate, RBP front grill and steps, RX LED lighting, a BackBone headache rack, Tire Gate tailgate rack, BedRug bed liner and a set of matching Monster Hooks. Nothing says Top 10 like a fully-equipped off-road rig that is as good looking as it is capable, and this Tundra from RBP is exactly that.
2015 GMC Denali 2500HD Mega Cab Conversion “MadDMax”
Built by Elite Customs Body & Paint, MadDMax was built as the first ever GMC Megacab conversion, with a brand new Denali stretched to create more room like the Dodge Megacabs while staying true to the truck’s GM platform. Owner of MadDMax, John Mikalik, told us this was the first priority of the build, as well as his favorite part of the finished truck.
While the Megacab conversion is certainly one heck of a defining feature, the Denali is also setup with plenty of other impressive additions, including a sectioned bed to fit with the Megacab conversion, a custom suspension system featuring a 10 to 12-inch Cognito lift in the front and a 10 to 12-inch Kelderman air suspension setup in the rear, Cognito control arms and FOX shocks, custom “MadDMax” MGP brake caliper covers, Rigid lighting components, steps from AMP Research and Diode Dynamics headlights. Though the truck was originally painted matte black with crushed up iron streaks to look like a rusted-out “rat rod” if you will, the truck will soon be repainted just matte black for a cleaner finished look.
Inside, MadDMax features a spacious Alea Leather upholstered interior with a black painted dash, US Speedo custom gauges, and suede pillars and headliner. Under the hood, MadDMax retains its factory 6.6L diesel engine but with a few upgrades, including Flo Pro exhaust, and tuning from Flyin’ Diesel Performance and PPEI, as well as an Edge programmer. Putting the truck’s obvious power to the pavement are 26×16-inch Specialty Forged wheels wrapped in 40-inch Fuel Offroad Gripper tires. John would like to thank his long-time girlfriend, Jessica for always supporting him, Robbie from KEG Media for his vision and marketing for the build, and Elite Customs for building the truck, as well as all the build’s sponsors: Cognito Motorsports, Specialty Forged Wheels, Fuel Off Road Tires, Kelderman, Rigid Lights, Fox Shocks, Alea Leather, Fusion Bumpers, Recon, Killer Spikes, RK Sport, S&B Filters, HornBlasters, MGP Caliper Covers, Flo Pro Exhaust, Flying Diesel Performance, Bushwacker, Viair, Monster Hooks, PPEI Custom Tuning, Gravel Empire, Prismatic Powders, VV Concepts, AMP Research, Reikken Batteries, Bolt Lock, and KillerWaxx.
Spade Kreations 2014 RAM 2500HD Mega Cab Laramie “Spade Made”
Built by Spade Kreations of Cincinnati, OH, this unique Dodge first captured our attention with its custom Avery Matte Gold Chrome vinyl wrap with custom “SpadeMade” graphics, but upon further investigation, we caught on to all the other additions that make this truck a true show-stopper.
Giving the truck its incredible height is a 10 to 14-inch Kelderman air lift suspension system controlled by an Air Lift air management system with auto-level control, two-tone 26×14-inch Forgiato Drea wheels and massive 40-inch Fuel Offroad tires. Additional build features include Rigid Rock lights, an MBRP exhaust and a Roll-N-Lock retractable tonneau cover. Performance wise, the truck features a S&B cold air intake and an on-board PPEI ECU tuner.
Jared Sensat’s 2013 GMC Sierra “Project Steel Gray”
Some people build vehicles because they love the process. Others, build their rides for the end result. But Project Steel Gray, a custom 2013 GMC Sierra 1500 4wd Z71 was built for a cause above both of these – bringing awareness to a disease that hits close to home for its owner.
Built to bring awareness to the Alzheimer’s illness, Project Steel Gray was a multi-year passion project for owner Jared Sensat, whose own father was diagnosed with the illness. The idea was to combine Jared’s passion for the lifted truck world with his eagerness to raise awareness about the disease, culminating in a custom truck that would appear before thousands of automotive enthusiasts at the biggest aftermarket show in the country.
Built by Lafayette Custom Automotive, Project Steel Gray features a plethora of performance upgrades, including a McGaughy’s 7 to 9-inch SS lift kit and traction bars, custom leaf springs from Atlas Suspension, a 3-inch body lift with guards from Performance Accessories, Hellwig HD front and rear sway bars, 22-inch TIS wheels wrapped in 38-inch Black Bear tires, and E-line rotors from R1 Concepts. Maintaining its factory 5.3L engine, the truck is also fitted with an Airaid MXP intake kit, JET Performance throttle body, dual Odyssey Extreme batteries, and ceramic headers that feed into a custom 3-inch dual cat-back exhaust system from Gibson. To top it off, the engine boasts a custom tune using an EDGE Evolution CTS2 tuner.
Aesthetically, the truck has seen multiple upgrades in the last year. This list includes a functional ram air hood from RK Sport, Hammer Head Armor front and rear bumpers, full back rack from Back Bone Truck Racks, a RackWorks roof rack with LEDs, custom ANZO headlights, taillights and third brake light, FlashTech USA lighting elements, custom swing cases from UnderCover Tonneau, a set of Monster Hooks swivel hooks, as well as reaper shackles, a T-Max winch, T-REX grille and white underglow from C4 Off Road. Adding to the Steel Gray Metallic exterior color of the truck is Prismatic Powders’ Illusion Purple powder coat on a number of components.
Inside, the truck is just as custom, featuring Roadwire black leather seats with diamond stitching, Candy Purple/carbon fiber trim, power distribution system, 6-circuit switch panel and LCD screen from SPod, and a full CT Sounds stereo system. This build would not have been possible without the following sponsors: TIS Wheels, Atlas Suspension, Roadwire Leather Interiors, R1 Concepts, BackBone Truck Racks, Prismatic Powders, Factor 55, Viair, Mag-Hytec, Gibson Exhaust, SPOD 4×4, Airaid, CT Sounds, MGP Caliper Covers, Royal Purple, RK Sport, McGaughy’s, UnderCover/Swing Case, BedRug, Bolt Lock, Hellwig, KillerWaxx SoCal, Scrubblade Wipers, Edge Products, Real Train Horns, ANZO, Performance Accessories, Karbon Kreationz, Monster Hooks, C4 Offroad, Westin Automotive, T-Rex Grilles, 5150 Wraps, FlashTech, Auto Republic, Elite Powder Coating, Tri-Ace Tires, JET Performance and Infinite Rule Security.
Justin Jarvis’ 2013 RAM 2500 “KEG Media SEMA Dream Build Truck”
Built by Complete Customs, this 2013 RAM 2500 owned by Justin Jarvis was the winner of the KEG Media Dream Build Truck promotion, in which KEG Media selected one lucky winner to have their truck undergo a complete SEMA build for the 2015 show. Much deserving, Justin is an active military member that was truly in awe of his truck when it was finally revealed to him on Monday, November 2nd at the unofficial start of the SEMA Show.
True to the KEG Media rendering, Justin’s truck is equipped with components from some pretty heavy hitters in the industry. Underneath, the truck features a Bulletproof lift, Atlas Suspension, and Icon Vehicle Dynamic suspension components, American Force wheels, Toyo rubber, and R1 Concepts disc brakes and custom MGP caliper covers. The truck also features upgrades like Fusion bumpers, PlainANSimple headlights, steps from AMP Research, a bed cover from Undercover Truck Lids, a Gibson Exhaust system, custom AWC grille, Kicker sound system, RoadWire interior and of course, the obvious HornBlasters train horns.
This build would not have been possible without sponsors like Complete Customs, American Force Wheels, Toyo Tires, Bulletproof Suspension, Icon Vehicle Dynamics, Atlas Suspension, Fusion Bumpers, Offroad LED Bars, ECD Customs, EPowderCoating, Prismatic Powders, PlainAnSimple, Bully Dog, AWC Grills, Rack Works, Undercover Truck Lids, SCT Performance, Kicker Audio, Monster Hooks, Roadwire, Viair, Bushwacker Inc, AMP Research, Gibson Exhaust, HornBlasters, Airaid, VV Concepts, Bedrug Bedliners, Lund International, R1 Concepts, MGP Caliper Covers, Driveline Plus, KillerWaxx Las Vegas, Solo Films, Oakley, and GoPro all coming together for a great cause.
David Fischer’s Bully Dog Chevy Duramax
Owned by snowmobile athlete David Fisher, this custom Duramax is certainly built for taking on rugged terrain. Featuring Cognito Motorsports components, a Kelderman air suspension setup in the rear and FOX shocks all the way around, the truck rides atop 24-inch American Force wheels with custom “wood” graphics, which are wrapped in 40-inch Toyo Open Country tires, and backed by R1 Concepts disc brakes. The truck also boasts a MBRP exhaust, Titan XXL fuel tank and Bully Dog Performance electronics.
Fitted with ShowTime Metal Works bumpers, Rigid Industries lighting components, a custom T-Rex grille, RackWorks roof rack, and Jetstream platform with David’s Polaris snowmobile and dirt bike, the custom Chevy will fit right in in the snow thanks to a fresh white paint job with wood grain Bully Dog graphics from Division Sixx, as well as WeatherTech interior accessories. Rounding out some of our favorites from this year’s show – stay tuned for our final wrap up coverage and check out the gallery below for more on these Lift’d Trucks Top Picks.