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How yesterday’s show cars become today’s crusher bait

May 23, 2012

Every year automakers conscript dozens of tuning shops into cranking out hundreds of overdone show cars, as a form of advertising for both sides. Here's what happens when those cars are no longer needed for publicity, and the only place they can drive is the nearest crusher.

Credit Brian Fox, the Pennsylvania-based chief of Fox Marketing and a long-time customizer of Lexus vehicles, for being upfront about the destruction of two of his creations last week. Back in 2008, Fox Marketing had created this burnt-orange version of the Lexus IS-F sedan for the Specialty Equipment Market Association show with new bodywork and hopped-up engine good for more than 600 hp.

When automakers provide tuners with a car for a show like the IS-F, they're often doing so before the car goes on sale -- which means they're handing over pre-production vehicles that by definition can never be licensed for street use under U.S. law. A few SEMA survivors pop up every year in auto auctions, but often sell for far less than their modifications cost because they're furniture rather than a moving vehicle.

Most simply aren't collectible enough to justify saving, and after removing the parts that can be reused or sold, they meet their ends as an expensive piece of recycling.