For enthusiasts, the Toyota Prius is the anti-car. It’s looked upon with the same contempt that a committed foodie has for frozen TV dinners. New York-based American Racing Headers, however, believes it has finally found a way to inject driving pleasure and performance into the original hybrid, and the recipe calls for a large serving of Hellcat.
Stuffing a supercharged, 6.2-liter Hellcat V8 engine under the Prius’ hood sounds impossible, but it’s not if you’re handy with an angle grinder and a welder. Most of the sheet metal beyond the windshield was cut out, and the Prius’ bare body was dropped on a tubular frame made from scratch. The mounts that hold the engine in place are attached directly to the frame, as is all of the running gear. In other words, this build — which is cleverly named PriuSRT8 — is essentially a Toyota hybrid body dropped on a hot rod platform.
The eight-cylinder makes 1,000 horsepower — about 300 more than stock — thanks to a bigger supercharger. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission; this might be the world’s first rear-wheel drive Prius with a stick shift. The entire suspension system has been redesigned from the ground up to handle the extra power, and bigger brakes supplied by Wilwood help rein in the Hellcat’s cavalry when it’s time to bring the action to a stop. Finally, gasoline is stored in a fuel cell that takes up most of the cargo compartment, and then some. Underneath the body, there aren’t very many components left that are stamped with a Toyota parts number.
“This is arguably the most politically incorrect car I’ve ever built,” quips the company, referring to the Prius’ original mission of providing humble, low-emissions transportation to the masses.
The PriuSRT8 is a work in progress. Notably, American Racing Headers needs to wrap up the interior. The company will install a dashboard built from scratch and a custom steering wheel. It also needs to take care of the wiring, which has to be done entirely from scratch. And, finally, the Prius will receive a few coats of paint inside and out. You can keep track of this fascinating abomination’s progress on ARH’s Facebook page.
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