LAS VEGAS--As the meme goes, "Yo dawg, I heard you like sports, so we put sports in your car so you can play while you drive."
Kia seems to have taken a page out of late '90s TV show "Pimp My Ride's" book when it commissioned the six custom models unveiled today at the 2011 SEMA Show. This selection of Optima Hybrids, Rios, and a Soul feature designs and accessories that are based on the golf, basketball, surfing, hockey, and, of course, motorsports.
The first model unveiled was a the Hole In One Soul built by West Coast Customs under the supervision of LPGA golfer Michelle Wie. The small crossover features a custom illustration of Wie's name and a colorful rendering of a collection of cute cartoon characters that were drawn by Wie herself. Inside, the colorful theme continues with a pink suede headliner, blue painted dashboard, and snow white leather seats that are embroidered with designs that match the hand-painted exterior graphics. The blue-on-white 20-inch wheels are also hand-painted. Out back, the Soul's hatch has been filled with audio and video equipment, including a Diamond Audio speakers, sub, and amp package and a 26-inch Samsung TV on which bystanders can play a round of virtual golf using a Kinect-enabled Microsoft Xbox 360. When Wie wants to play an actual round of golf, she can bring a friend thanks to a pair of loaded golf bags that are color matched to the rest of the vehicle.
West Coast Customs also built a custom Kia Optima Hybrid for NBA All-Star Blake Griffin (the reason for choosing the Optima should be obvious). Griffin's Kia features an orange paint job with details that mirror the texture of a basketball. The hood is adorned with a "Blake Griffin" logo, but the most obvious addition to this sedan is the small basketball goal that can be erected in its trunk. The floor of the trunk and the cabin are covered in hardwood to further echo the idea of a basketball court.
While WCC was building its cars, Antenna Magazine was working its magic on a pair of Kia Rio 5-door hatchbacks.
The first is the Retro Surf Rio 5-door, which features a surf theme inspired by the handmade wooden surfboard that adorns its Thule roof rack. The Rio features a sunset-metallic golden-brown paint (trust me, you've never seen brown paint look so good) and a wooden front splitter that matches the surfboard. Inside the Retro Surf Rio features more wooden accents and accessories and an iPhone inlayed into its center console. The rear seat features a rack filled with surfboard wax, sunblock, and other beach necessities. The rear hatch hides an iPad arcade cabinet for impromptu classic gaming sessions.
Antenna Magazine also took a stab at developing a Rio 5-door for fans of cold weather sports--hockey in particular. The Hockey-Hatch Forte 5-Door features a rear hatch with space for storing hockey jerseys, skates, and pads, as well as a pass though that allows a pair of hockey sticks to be stored and viewed from the rear seats. However, back seat passengers will be too busy staring at the two 7-inch headrest monitors as they play a round of EA Sports' NHL12 on the Sony Playstation 3. Up front is a small cubby for storing a few hockey pucks (although, I'm not sure why you'd need quick access to them while driving) and cupholders big enough to hold a pair of sports drink bottles. Outside, the bumper features hockey stick shaped LED accent lights and the whole car is slathered in an icy shade of blue paint.
Finally, Kia got around to motorsports with the unveiling of the Rio 5-door B-Spec, which consists of an actual $14,000 racing spec package that can be purchased from Kia's racing partner Kinetic Motorsports and installed on a new Rio 5-door (or Kinetic will install it for you for an additional $6,000. The B-spec package includes everything needed to convert the econobox into a racer including a roll cage kit, racing seat, quick-release steering wheel, racing harness, race shocks, lightweight wheels, spec-series tires, and oil sump pan expansion kit.
The last car unveiled was a high-performance Kia Optima Hybrid, which will serve as the pace car for United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) races. The car's intake, exhaust, suspension, wheels, and tires have all been upgraded in the name of speed, while the paint, aerodynamics, and lights have been upgraded in the name of style. We're not really sure what use a pace car would have for a 2,400-watt Infinity stereo system and rear-seat DVD entertainment with dual 7-inch monitors, but it's got those as well.
Check out our photos from the floor of the 2011 SEMA Show in Las Vegas for a closer look at each of Kia's unveiled customs.