Credit where credit is due: a lot of manufacturers put in a lot of effort when it comes to the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show. Each November another batch of humble production cars are sacrificed to the greater good of tuning, creating all manner of weird and wonderful creations. They're often not to all tastes, of course, but when seemingly every new car now must prioritise sustainable, shared urban mobility and every interesting idea ruthlessly assessed for profitability, it's nice to see car makers just have some fun.
Nissan has really gone for it at SEMA 2019, bringing four cars to Las Vegas. As is often the way, the least interesting vehicle is the car with tangible showroom links - the 2020 Titan with Genuine Nissan Accessories that include Rugged Step Boards - but that's not going to stop us getting all carried away about the concepts. Because they're awesome.
It says a lot when a 750hp Nissan 370Z isn't the most interesting car to talk about, but that's the calibre of these SEMA cars. It's a Time Attack car for the 2020 season, built by Nissan Motorsport and Z1 Motorsport; using a standard 370 as its base, the V6 was turbocharged (twice), a race exhaust installed, the manual gearbox swapped for a sequential and the diff from a NISMO GT-R fitted out back. The acid-dipped body was kitted out with a roll cage, a full suite of carbon aero bits bolted on, Yokohama Advan A052 tyres chosen for the 18-inch Rays wheels and a whole catalogue of extra coolers equipped to keep temperatures where they should be on track. The one very lucky driver is strapped into an OMP HRC-R Carbon Air seat with NISMO harnesses - what an experience that promises to be.
Given the choice of just one, though, our SEMA selection would have to be the Frontier Desert Runner. Already a pick-up option for Nissan buyers in the US, this particular FDR isn't like any other; the 4.0-litre V6 has been junked, replaced by a 5.6 V8 from an even bigger pick up. Then rebuilt, with new cams, pistons and valves. Then turbocharged. Then given a six-speed manual. The result is a 600hp, 700lb ft V8 pick up that would have been the ideal fit for Mad Max. If only he weren't such a wimp.
The Desert Runner overhaul is completed by a BTF Fabrication long travel suspension kit, King Racing dampers, Fifteen52 wheels and BF Goodrich 37-inch off-road tyres. Off-road lighting is from Rigid Industries and Sparco provides the seats, harnesses and wheels. It might well be - and we don't say this lightly - the coolest Nissan ever.
All of which makes the third concept, the Kicks Street Sport, a little hard to get excited about. In all honesty, Nissan could have announced the return of the R32 GT-R for £24,995 and the Frontier Desert Runner would have kept the limelight. But bronze Volk TE37s ensure it gets some attention, as do the widebody arch extensions. Furthermore, fitting the Kicks Street Sport with Ohlins dampers, a bespoke Garrett turbocharger and a NISMO exhaust suggests it might be quite fun. And the Kicks is no more bizarre than a Juke NISMO now, is it? Just a shame it's not a V8 pick-up, really...