ABOUT as interesting to drive as a refrigerator and shaped like a futuristic door wedge, the Toyota Prius has long been the butt of many car jokes. However in a narrow old workshop in Brooklyn, New York, a team of maniacs are finally putting the carcass of one to good use – by jamming a 707hp Hellcat motor in it. With a Whipple huffer strapped on top.
Normally powered by hydrogen, pump fuel, quinoa and healing crystals, the original Prius mill has been turfed for 6.2 litres of Chrysler’s finest, and Nick Filippides, founder of American Racing Headers, couldn’t be more excited to see it come into shape as the ultimate sleeper. “We’re gonna have some fun in this thing. I have a long commute on the Long Island Expressway each day, and I can’t wait to see the reaction I get blowing by traffic in it,” he laughs.
Dubbed the PriuSRT8, this mean machine is being screwed together at Farks Supercars in Brooklyn by Farid Farkouh, a long-time race-car fabricator and engineer who’s had a hand in many American Racing Headers projects.
The Prius body will remain exactly as factory, but under the skin it’s a completely custom endeavour including fabbed aluminium panels and floor and a full NHRA-certified tube chassis. The car will be about 1300lb (590kg) lighter than a factory Hellcat and Nick fully intends to run it into the eights at the strip, presumably accompanied by a few dropped jaws.
It’s no race-only ride though, as the plan is to fill it back up with all the modern-car creature comforts, including interior trim, radio and air con, so Nick can hit the streets and use it as a grocery-getter. About the only noticeable thing missing will be the rear seats, replaced by big tubs and a 75-litre Fuel Safe tank.
The monster mill up front is a 2016 Hellcat crate motor – the 6.2-litre Chrysler V8 that made car guys everywhere start drooling, with a reliable 707hp on tap. It’s topped by a 4.5-litre Whipple supercharger and will be fitted with a one-off trick American Racing Headers exhaust system. “There’s no point going for some modified engine with the Hellcat being as good as it is,” Nick says, “and with the Whipple, it’ll make over 1000hp if we want it to – which is fine by us!”
It’s mated to a six-speed Tremec Magnum, with tweaks by RPM Transmissions in Indiana to make it handle the additional power, and that’ll spin a Midwest Chassis Ford nine-inch rear end stuffed with Mark Williams internals.
Nick will have masterful control of how it rides both on the race track and on potholed New York streets thanks to high-performance rolling gear provided by Chris Alston at Chassisworks, VariShock for the bumpy bits and a brake system from Wilwood.
Wheels and tyres are yet to be determined as Nick is weighing up his options. He says in street mode he’ll run Mickey Thompson radial rubber, but given it’s a stick-shift car, he’s leaning towards slicks for the track. The rear tubs are good to house 315 hoops, but 275s also appear suitable for the Prius’s set-up.
Nick and Farid and the crew are working away, still finalising their shopping list and exterior paint scheme, but are pushing to have the car up and running for SEMA this year, before heading to PRI in Indianapolis. “On our way to Vegas, we might actually stop at a few tracks and put some hits on it. This car is built to go anywhere; you’ll know it’s us when we’re coming down the road,” Nick says. “Laughs are most certainly guaranteed!”