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It seems that in the United States at least, the Toyota Camry has been working hard to shed its own dowdy image. First, we saw the radically-facelifted USDM model unveiled earlier this year at NYIAS, then witnessed the covers pulled off the 2015 NASCAR racer last month. But at this week’s SEMA tuner show, the D-segment staple dealt its biggest hand yet in the form of a specially-modified car.

Looks like just another silver Camry, doesn’t it? So did the crowds at SEMA, until the body was lifted to reveal a purpose-built dragster. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a normal-looking Camry that can smoke just about all that come before it, truly giving a new meaning to the term “sleeper”.

Under the skin is a tube-frame chassis, into which is stuffed a 3UR-FE 5.7 litre V8 from the Tundra pick-up. That engine has been breathed on with a TRD supercharger and a wet nitrous system to produce over 850 hp, sent to DOT 335/30/18 drag radials at the rear via a six-speed automatic and live rear axle also pulled from the Tundra.

With such mechanicals, the Camry Sleeper is estimated to rocket down the quarter mile in an astonishing 9.8 seconds. It took Toyota’s Motorsports Technical Center just 11 weeks to gut a bone-stock Camry and put it over a dragster, which belies the level of detail on this build – even the doors and boot lid are fully functional, and the doors even retain most of the production car’s trimmings.

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“This Camry is the ultimate sleeper — it definitely has the element of surprise on its side and more than enough muscle to drop the hammer on any unsuspecting car that pulls up,” said Motorsports Technical Centre director Chuck Wade.

So, the Toyota Camry – the default uncle’s car ain’t so boring after all, eh?


US-market 2015 Toyota Camry
2015 Toyota Camry