Built to Show or Be Used?

November 2020 Column Colin Peterson

This article originally appeared in the October 2020 issue.

It's hard to believe that the world-renowned SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nev., isn’t happening this year because of the current pandemic. We look forward to seeing those amazing-looking diesel trucks on display each November, but this cancellation is just one of many disappointments in 2020.

Why do we look forward to this show so much? The amount of work that goes into these show vehicles is as over-the-top as the builds themselves. We see massive suspensions, tires, wheels, bumpers, engine work, accessories and add-ons, paint, wraps, powder coating, and the list goes on and on. Installation and polishing of those components is extremely time-consuming as well, as it requires what must feel like a lifetime in the shop getting those trucks ready. Plus if you’re doing the build yourself, it’s often difficult to find the time if building and working on trucks is not what you do for a living.

Worth The Effort

When you take a close look at it, it’s crazy to think the amount of work that goes into these builds just for this show! The built trucks towed to SEMA represent the money, time, and energy needed just to be on display and get attention from show attendees.

I understand some people don’t want their trucks to get dirty and abused, but if you’re going to put so much money into it, you might as well make the most of it and use it for something more than just getting a couple of days worth of fame during SEMA week, right? Hopefully owners find the right balance between keeping a truck show-worthy and getting some meaningful use out of it, but I sometimes wonder what happens to that truck when it exits the Las Vegas Convention Center.

To be fair, there are also plenty of truck builds that are driven and not towed to SEMA, making them even more impressive when they’re on display. That real impression is all about that glory from enduring some extra trials sometimes, especially when it comes to shows. Also, plenty of trucks go on to be used for “truck stuff” after they get built for a show, but are still able to be displayed at other shows. Events are, in many cases, a great way to show that trucks clean up well after a long road trip, performance run, wild adventure off the beaten path, long day on the job, or whatever you involve your truck in.


Speaking of show trucks that still get used, in this issue we feature some builds that are prime examples of finding a good balance. One of them is a blue 2003 Dodge RAM where the owner only uses it during the summer and stores it away during the winter, as she doesn’t want the weather to wear down her truck. However, she does go on extreme off-road adventures and performance runs while at the same time getting her truck all clean and in tact for show ‘n shine events during the summer. Another show truck featured in this issue isn’t used for off-roading or other hardcore adventures, but was driven to the shows it was on display at and still sees plenty of solid everyday use. The truck is used as a light tow rig and even occasionally as a work truck.

Not all trucks on display at shows are “princesses;” some are just meant to look nice between heavy usages. As a magazine we try not to highlight “trailer queens” and instead focus on a diversity of truck lifestyles that keep readers like you interested and coming back for more. Plenty of trucks on display at shows like SEMA are used for various activities in life and that’s the type of builds we like to see.

  • Like what you read?

    Want to know when we have important news, updates or interviews?

  • Join our newsletter today!

    Sign Up
You Might Also Be Interested In...

Send to your friends!



November 2021

In the time of trailer-queen show trucks we regularly see at diesel performance shows and events across the country it is great to come across one that looks like a show truck, works as a farm truck, and flies like a race truck.

Get a Sneak Peek

Already a subscriber? Please check your email for the latest full issue link.