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Collector Car Appreciation Day is more than just a car show. It’s not just local, state, or nationwide – it has gone international, being celebrated in Australia and Canada, and is a recognized day that hobbyists and collectors can get together and share stories, build tips, and a general love for anything automotive. There are hundreds of locations all across the country that shared in this event, with proud owners showing off their pride and joy.

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SEMA Garage – helping members get their products from drawing board to production.

Likewise, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) is more than just an association with a yearly trade show. They are not just local, state, or nationwide, they are world-wide and they are an organization that recognizes hobbyists and manufacturers, and SEMA works to keep the automotive industry alive and kicking.

We visited the SEMA headquarters in Diamond Bar, California, on Collector Car Appreciation Day, and learned about their new program called SEMA Garage and Product Development Center – a full emissions-testing Ethylene Oxide (EO) certification lab complete with dyno services.

SEMA invited a few dozen collector cars to visit their facility, and to take a couple of tours in their offices and shops, to see all of the new innovations that they are involved in. We were provided a meal from In-N-Out Burger, refreshments, and entertainment throughout the day. All around the parking lot were some cool cars and friendly people who are either hobbyists, vendors, manufacturers, media, or even just gearheads who love the hobby.

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Mike Spagnola, SEMA VP of the Product Development Center, gave us a brief history of SEMA, and then showed us all the toys in the SEMA Garage.

We spent some time in the morning to learn a little more about the SEMA Action Network (SAN), a group dedicated to making sure our hobby stays alive and well. Founded in 1997, SAN was established with us gearheads in mind, to help fight legislative threats to our hobby.

With their involvement, legislation can be approached from an organizational standpoint with experience, facts, details, and research to help fight those legislative threats, and often to make them simply go away, even if they do resurface at a later time under another plan. Yes, SAN is here for us because they want to see us keep the hobby alive, and they’re a bunch of gearheads as well.

SEMA Garage Rolls Up Its Doors

SEMA has now rolled up the garage doors for phase two of SEMA Garage, which helps small businesses create and design products for the automotive accessory market. This $31 billion specialty industry has SEMA welcoming them into their new, one-of-a-kind, 15,000 square-foot facility in Diamond Bar. The facility features high-tech labs, equipment and tools that SEMA members can use to help get their ideas and products from the drawing board to production, and into customers’ hands.

The equipment on the roof controls the weather inside the garage for EPA and CARB certification for that prized EO.

Whether a company is working on something like a cold-air intake, a small part for a car, or an expensive engine modification, SEMA Garage is there to help make these parts more than just a vision. With equipment that can help design and create prototype products before any costly tooling is initiated, 3D scanners and printers are on the premise to bring parts from the two dimensional world into a tangible part that can be used for fitment and testing.

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That’s not a ray gun, this device is a portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM) for 3-D scanning.

With nearly $2 million worth of equipment, small businesses that want to develop a product can call on SEMA Garage to utilize the many tools and services necessary to help develop their product. There are two vehicle lifts, a portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM) that is used for 3D scanning, a 3D printer for prototyping, digital race car scales for precise vehicle weight measurements, a dynamometer for power output, and a complete emissions testing cell for EPA and California Air Resources Board (CARB) certification standards.

Many aftermarket engine components require an Executive Order (EO), and SEMA Garage is a fully certified EO lab that can help any company wishing to sell aftermarket parts in California obtain that EO certification. Working with the Auto Club, SEMA doesn’t just give members the tools necessary to obtain the certification they need, SEMA helps get those products through certification with their low-cost assistance.

3-D printing is all the rage, and these items were each printed as one unit, including the piston/rods and the crescent wrench.

Their temperature controlled test cell can actually assimilate weather and barometric conditions like those in the mountains or the desert, whether it’s summer or winter, for testing to meet all federal EPA and CARB standards. With the use of their dyno, real time capabilities include all aspects of testing, including emissions, fuel economy, acceleration and braking, and interior and exterior sound levels.

sema-ccad084Mike Spagnola, SEMA VP of the Product Development Center, was on hand to give us the tour and show us all of the cool tools and magic gadgets at the facility. He said, “SEMA is in a unique position to provide members with a reliable and affordable way to develop and test their products, thereby helping them get their products to market quickly. We’re excited to expand on the capabilities of the SEMA Garage and look forward to putting them to good use.”

After taking the tour of SEMA Garage and the SEMA offices, we were back out into the parking lot to enjoy the raffle prizes, great food and entertainment, and of course, the dozens of hot rods, lead sleds, musclecars, trucks, classics and just to hang with gearheads like us. To see some more of the great sights and cool views, be sure to check out our exclusive gallery below, and look for our article of our favorite three cars from the show.

We brought a couple of our own project cars to the show: Project Swinger and Project Wild E. Coyote, we were in good company.

For more information about SEMA, SEMA SAN, and the SEMA Garage, visit www.SEMA.org.