Every year, car enthusiasts from all over the world flock to Las Vegas for the Speciality Equipment Marketing Association show, better known as SEMA. This year’s edition is just behind us and it has been a literal smorgasbord of custom-built hotrods, modified supercars, wild Japanese performance cars, aftermarket components, speciality manufacturers etc. It is a bucket-list thing for me to once in my life experience the sheer madness that is SEMA but for now, I am happy to check it out online. Considering the fact the 2023 edition took place between October 31st and November 4th, there are a ton of amazing and crazy custom cars to go through. But, in an effort to keep things simple for this instalment of The Petrolhead Corner, we’re narrowing it down to three cars only. And some of them might rub you the wrong way, so consider yourself warned.
ENEOS 2JZ-swapped Jaguar E-Type
Blasphemy to some, but perfectly acceptable to others, the Eneos 2JZ swapped E-Type will split people’s opinions right down the middle. Personally, I absolutely love the E-Type so I was a little surprised when I learned about this unique adaptation of the legendary sports coupe. Usually, such iconic classic cars are for purists, but in today’s day and age, anything goes it seems.
Eneos, the Japanese manufacturer of oils and lubricants has seriously gone to town on this E-Type Coupe. Pretty much the only thing that is still identifiable as an E-Type is the exterior. All the rest has been custom-made or sourced from various manufacturers. The chassis is made using BMW sub-frames, and the front brakes come from Chevrolet with the rear ones also coming from the Germans. The normally slender and curvaceous exterior was enhanced (for lack of a better word) with a 3D printed carbon fibre widebody kit. It sits on custom-built wheels that at least remind us of racing E-Types from a bygone era.
But the most bonkers thing of all done to the E-Type is the engine transplant. Gone is the original 4.2-litre straight-six, and in comes the 2JZ-GTE 3.0 litre turbocharged engine from the Toyota Supra. A legend in its own right, the 2JZ has been massively upgraded to pump out 750 bhp thanks to better fuel injectors, reinforced pistons and rods, and an updated turbo and intercooler system. It’s mated to a five-speed manual gearbox lifted from an E36 BMW M3. No doubt it will be stupidly fast because of all this new tech, and probably a fair bit more reliable than the original too.
Ringbrothers Rolls Royce Silver Cloud
Next up is something a bit more sensible, at least in terms of looks. From afar, this is just any ‘ordinary’ 1961 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, but don’t be fooled. If you have at least a vague notion of what the Ringbrothers can do, you’ll know what to expect; extremely detailed builds with big power. And this Silver Cloud does not disappoint! The shiny white car is called ‘Paramount’ and it keeps the look rather traditional. And although it’s restored to beyond perfect, the body is left mainly untouched. Underneath though, it’s a whole different ball game!
The Rolls Royce Silver Cloud was produced between 1955 and 1966, so this 1961 specimen sits right in the middle. It was originally available with a 4.9 litre straight-six (MK I series) or a 6.2 litre V8 (MK II and MK III series). Power ranged from 155bhp to 240bhp, which had to deal with over 2 tons of weight. But Jim and Mike Ring, the two brothers behind the custom car building company Ringbrothers decided it could do with a bit of a power boost. So they shoehorned a 6.2-litre supercharged V8 from General Motors into the front and upped the power to a ludicrous 640bhp! Imagine stopping next to it at a stoplight in your Porsche, thinking none of it, and then being left in a (Silver) Cloud of smoke and dust as the light goes green!
Just like with any other build, the Ringbrothers spare no expenses in detailing the car. The body was completely stripped down and restored where needed, before being painted in a stark white colour. It sits on a completely custom-built chassis and uses a ten-speed automatic transmission connected to a carbon fibre driveshaft. On the inside, the original style is retained but upgraded with more modern gauges, a ‘starlight’ headliner and a new front bench seat to increase interior space. It’s a pretty amazing creation, merging classical British motoring with American V8 power.
Toyota FJ Bruiser
The final one of the three builds I’ve picked from SEMA is my favourite and comes from Toyota. It has become common practice for car manufacturers to pull out all the stops to build a unique and crazy show car for SEMA, to be revealed alongside the dozens of vehicles from custom car builders like the Ringbrothers. Toyota decided it would be a cool idea to nestle a V8 racing engine into a classic FJ Cruiser and go crazy with it, aptly naming it the FJ Bruiser in the process.
Styled to look like the iconic 1966 FJ45 Land Cruiser pick-up truck, not much is left of the old beast. Everything is new on the car, including the custom-built tubular chassis and roll cage. It sits on trailing-arm suspension with high-performance shocks and springs, a necessity if you want to go off-road fast. The beadlock wheels and stubby are ginormous, in an effort to provide some sort of traction and to get power to the ground, whichever surface that may be.
And speaking of power, it has plenty! Toyota picked its 5.9-litre NASCAR-spec V8 racing engine and pushed it to an output of 725bhp. This is fed to a three-speed automatic and then directed to all four wheels. According to Toyota, it will do 165mph (265kph) in top gear, but can also crawl over rough terrain at speeds of 12mph or lower. And should you get stuck on a rock ledge, or some tree stumps, the FJ Bruiser has a wild trick up its sleeve. Running underneath the car is a pair of modified snowmobile tracks powered by a winch system, designed to move you forward or backwards to a point where the tires can hook up again and you can continue your adventure. Pretty wild, and insanely cool!
Which of these three cars is your favourite? Feel free to leave a message down below!