SEMA Show 1968

SEMA News—November 2018

By Drew Hardin

Photo Courtesy Pat Brollier, Petersen Publishing Company Archive

SEMA Show 1968


After its humble beginnings in Dodger Stadium, the High Performance and Custom Trade Show changed venues for its second edition, moving to the spacious Anaheim Convention Center in January 1968. The exhibitor count grew from 100 or so the year before to nearly 150, their 200-plus tables taking up half of the convention center’s 100,000-sq.-ft. floor space.

Showgoers and the Petersen Publishing Company magazine staffers covering the event were already finding its original name cumbersome and were shortening it to simply the SEMA Show, so named for the fledgling Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association, which would evolve into today’s Specialty Equipment Market Association.

That year some 3,800 parts distributors and dealers from all over the United States, Canada and Mexico came to Southern California to learn about the latest aftermarket offerings, and many of them passed through the registration area that was located just outside the exhibition hall. Over the next decade lines grew longer, before practically disappearing as advance registration became customary and a larger, more efficient registration area was developed. Current registration areas now easily accommodate the relatively small number of number of buyers and distributors that do not register in advance.

Though not much of it is visible, true ’60s custom-car fans may be able to identify Dan Woods’ Milk Truck (at that point being shown by Bob Reisner) parked next to the registration area. Just out of frame is another wild Reisner show car—the twin-engine Invader that appeared on the July 1967 cover of Hot Rod.

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