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.
"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.
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.
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