Automotive

Wolf in sheep's clothing: Toyota packs 850-hp drag inside a Camry

Wolf in sheep's clothing: Toyo...
Toyota packs a supercharged Tundra powertrain and tube frame inside a Camry shell
Toyota packs a supercharged Tundra powertrain and tube frame inside a Camry shell
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Toyota holds a press conference to reveal the Sleeper Camry at SEMA
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Toyota holds a press conference to reveal the Sleeper Camry at SEMA
A lot of power in a little car
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A lot of power in a little car
It looks all Camry on the outside, but a little different inside
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It looks all Camry on the outside, but a little different inside
The rear racing slicks are one of the only giveaways
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The rear racing slicks are one of the only giveaways
Toyota packs a supercharged Tundra powertrain and tube frame inside a Camry shell
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Toyota packs a supercharged Tundra powertrain and tube frame inside a Camry shell
Toyota reveals the Sleeper Camry at SEMA Show 2014
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Toyota reveals the Sleeper Camry at SEMA Show 2014
A barebones race interior
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A barebones race interior
The interior includes a Fast Ed's seat and Autometer digital dash
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The interior includes a Fast Ed's seat and Autometer digital dash
The driver is secured with an Impact Racing safety harness
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The driver is secured with an Impact Racing safety harness
Peek inside the Sleeper Camry
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Peek inside the Sleeper Camry
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With its dark windows, the Sleeper Camry looks completely innocent...
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With its dark windows, the Sleeper Camry looks completely innocent...
…but it's not
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…but it's not
Toyota estimates a blazing 9.8-second quarter mile
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Toyota estimates a blazing 9.8-second quarter mile
This is what an 850-hp Camry dragster looks like
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This is what an 850-hp Camry dragster looks like
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Believe it or not, the Toyota Camry was one of the most interesting debuts at the 2014 SEMA Show. Not just any Camry, this particular model features a supercharged Tundra V8 tuned to 850 hp (634 kW). It also has a full tube-frame chassis and a liftable body that shows off its race-derived build. You can pull up at a traffic light next to virtually any sports car and shock the clothes off the driver when you blow them away in the unassuming Toyota four-door.

Toyota introduced the Sleeper Camry with the help of Top Gear's (US) Rutledge Wood, who played up the sleeper aspect of the car by slowly unraveling the mystery of why a stock-looking Camry was at SEMA standing in front of a crowd of tune-hungry attendees. The knee-shaking rumble of the V8 provided the first big hint; then the full story unfolded when the body was pulled up to reveal the V8 engine and tube frame below.

With its dark windows, the Sleeper Camry looks completely innocent...
With its dark windows, the Sleeper Camry looks completely innocent...

"This is the most extreme build we’ve ever unveiled at SEMA," says Toyota Engagement Marketing and Motorsports National Manager Steve Appelbaum. "The transformation from seemingly stock Camry to full-blown racecar just shocks the senses."

Over the course of 11 weeks, Toyota's team put an angry race car inside its most popular everyday driver. It ripped the 5.7-liter 3UR-FE V8 engine, transmission, rear axle and electronics out of the Tundra pickup and wedged them inside the red tubular frame. As if the Tundra V8 wasn't powerful enough on its own, Toyota added a TRD supercharger and wet nitrous system. The car is cushioned by strut front suspension and a four-link live rear axle.

One of the few tells that an attentive onlooker could use to distinguish the Sleeper Camry from its stock counterpart is the set of Goodyear DOT 335/30/18 drag racing tires at the rear. Those tires put the car's surplus of muscle to the pavement, allowing it to achieve an estimated 9.8-second quarter mile. That puts it in the company of hypercars like the McLaren P1 and LaFerrari – not too shabby for a silver Toyota Camry.

It looks all Camry on the outside, but a little different inside
It looks all Camry on the outside, but a little different inside

While Toyota was careful to keep the car's outside appearance as close to stock as possible, the cat leaps out of the bag the minute the doors are opened so there was no reason to mask the interior. The utilitarian, race-inspired cockpit features a single Fast Ed's Interiors race seat with Impact Racing safety harness and an Autometer digital dash. The cabin just begs the driver to duck inside, buckle in and push that truck engine to its absolute limits.

Source: Toyota

View gallery - 15 images
7 comments
Mel Tisdale
At a time when we should be seeking to achieve the most economical use of oil, one is forced to wonder why there is an almost continuous stream of articles about ridiculously over-powered, uneconomical cars. Perhaps we could publish fuel consumption figures for these vehicles?Such data might bring it home to people just how pointless they are. In the meantime, I recommend visiting the Our Finite World website for an expert opinion on oil supply and its wider implications for us all.
flink
That is definitely cool. It puts me in mind of the time I saw a Chevette. burn away from a traffic light leaving a Corvette in it's dust. The Chevette's owner had shoehorned an big 8-cylinder engine out of a Nova into it. That thing was bloody fast!
Michael Wilson
@ Mel Tisdale "At a time when we should be seeking to achieve the most economical use of oil, one is forced to wonder why there is an almost continuous stream of articles about ridiculously over-powered, uneconomical cars." They have articles like this because cars like this are awesome. Some of us like performance, like technology that enhances performance and like to read about vehicles like this. I like to race. My daily driver, I care about fuel consumption, but my weekend toy....I could care less. I drive spiritedly on race tracks and have daily driven sleeper cars built like this as well as full on racing cars I take to the track. I like sleeper cars or Q ships and this is the quintessential sleeper car. It was built with a full roll cage yet retained the original Toyota shell and the builder kept full working windows and doors. Amazing build quality and engineering, which is what this site is all about. Because only one will likely exist, it will have a negligible impact on oil consumption because it probably will not even be raced. Purely it is an exercise in engineering awesomeness. If you're truly worried about worldwide oil consumption, there are much bigger things to worry about. In America at least, on my daily commute I see people driving massive fuel consuming SUVs that burn fuel whether driven quickly or slowly (in constrast to most sports cars that only guzzle fuel when driven quickly). Container ships with zero emissions controls that sail from a port of convenience to skirt pollution control laws and china/india with their addiction to 2 cycle engined motorcycles that burn oil along with their fuel. (and pollute quite a bit as well)
HighPockets
I am reminded of Paul Newman who used to tool around in a VW bug with a Porsche engine under the hood. He enjoyed some surprised faces.
Mel Tisdale
@ Michael Wilson I understand you're enjoyment of driving fast. I used to be a development engineer (engines) for a major car manufacturer and have spent many a happy track hour pushing things to the limit. But situations change. For instance in my testing days it was possible to drive on Britain's motorways at full throttle (120 mph on the watches - emergency 'phones at one mile intervals) and not be hindered or commit a speeding offence. Try that today! The reason I commented in the way that I did is because we need to change our mindset regarding how we approach climate change and post peak easy oil living, especially with the projected population figures for mid-century, which is not far off. We simply cannot blithely continue the way we are. Thanks to the mainstream media, the public are largely ignorant of the dangers their children and grandchildren face, so examples have to be set. It is bad enough when tuning specialists boast phenomenal performance for stock automobiles, but having a major motor manufacturer, Toyota, paying little heed to our predicament is a step too far. Yes, I feel guilty about having enjoyed the freedoms that no longer exist, but being a parent carries with it responsibilities, which have to be realised and acted upon, hence the comment.
Joe F
@ Mel, do you live in a self sustaining mud hut eating picked plants? No? you probably use more oil and pollute directly, indirectly in a week than this car ever will. Show your children by example if your that into it. You won't change the world from your desk but maybe try by don't read these articles. This car is all about buzz and you helped. Especially checking back over again to recomment.
Grunchy
One of the stunt cars for Herbie the Love Bug had a Porsche motor in it. There was aerial footage of it racing in earnest against plenty of dedicated race cars - it looked like it was keeping up quite a respectable speed!