The Toyota Prius is, by no stretch of the imagination, a car fit for rebels, says Leno on this week's episode of CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage. " As he puts it, "I mean, it's practical. It's got four doors. It's fuel-efficient. It's quiet. You can eat kale in it. You can pick up gluten-free pasta in it. And when you put it in echo mode, it barely uses any gas at all."
But after he meets Nick Filippides, co-owner of American Racing Headers, Leno has a change of heart. Filippides has customized his own Prius, the SRT8, by taking a 2005 model and swapping in a Dodge Hellcat crate engine.
Leno can't help but laugh at the idea. A Dodge Hellcat can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and has a 707 horsepower engine, whereas your typical Prius only has between 110 and 134 horsepower and takes over 10 seconds to get to 60 mph.
The modification bumps Filippides' car from an MSRP of $21,275 to its current value: $150,000. That includes a six-speed transmission, an astounding 800 horsepower and the capability to go a quarter mile in just nine seconds.
"This is something that I concocted just driving on the Long Island Expressway, and having the HOV lane, and sitting in bumper to bumper traffic and just watching the conga line of Priuses going by," Filippides explains. You don't need passengers to lawfully drive qualifying hybrid cars in the carpool lane, a rule intended to incentive fuel efficiency.
"So I said, 'One of these days, I'm going to get one of these cars, and put it on that lane,'" he says. And he did.
"It defies logic," says Filippides of his customized hybrid. He proudly demonstrates his newfound speed by dusting Leno in a race, since Leno, even with a considerable head start, can't keep up in a Prius with a stock engine.
Leno later gets a chance behind the wheel of the SRT8 and is taken aback by how its handles even at high speeds. Filippides reminds him that it's built for the road, after all. Amid the thrill of driving it, the show's camera car falls behind. "Are you guys going to catch up with me?" Leno asks the crew.
"Yeah, if you'll let us," one responds. But Leno doesn't answer at first, seemingly inspired by the car to rebel.
CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage " airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET.
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Video by Richard Washington