LAS VEGAS, Nevada — If anything could shake up the Toyota Camry’s M.O. as a plain family sedan, it’d be the ones brought to the 2017 SEMA Show. Some were designed and inspired by Toyota’s NASCAR drivers. Another was built by a racing analyst. The 2017 SEMA Battle of the Builders unites these cars as they vie to secure the crown for the best build in the industry.
Toyota Motor North America is hitting SEMA hard with 18 cars on the show floor, with emphasis on its two newest models—the all-new 2018 Camry and the recently introduced C-HR crossover. Steve Curtis, Vice President of Media and Market Engagement, hopes this move will help refresh consumer perception of the brand.
“The Camry and C-HR are two all-new vehicles that we’ve introduced this past year,” Curtis says. “We wanted to see just how far we could take them.”
The NASCAR-inspired Camry XSE tunes share Performance mods such as AEM cold air intakes, K&M filters, and StopTech Big Brake kits. They use TRD exhaust, with some variants featuring customized tips. All cars ride on Tein coil-over suspension. Beyond these common modifications, each car features elements reflecting their respective drivers.
Daniel Suarez’ car maintains a near-stock look, with a ghosted number 19 on the fender and customized Rotiform VDA 3-piece forged alloy. Martin Truex Jr.’s car is finished with a protective coat with a satin-black texture. Denny Hamlin’s ride has the stickers and safety harness of a racecar. Kyle Busch’s car has customized aluminum metalwork. Every car has an interior customized with its driver’s logo.
Even among these other outrageous tunes, the Rutledge Wood Camry, designed by the race commentator as part of a partnership with Real Time Automotive Solutions, stands out in its custom metallic paint that combines blue and purple hues. The body work is derived from scan data and the custom panels are formed with 3D printed materials. The sound system got a massive overhaul with huge subwoofers in the back. Wilwood Dynalite brakes with cross-drilled rotors and four-piston forged calipers provide stopping power. A MaganaFlow exhaust replaces the original for a more aggressive sound. The tune rides on Rotiform 3-piece Custom Rose Gold wheels and Megan racing suspension for a lowered look and stiffer ride.
One car is a true outlier even when compared with the entrants in the Battle of the Builds contest: The R-Tuned Toyota C-HR. It throws nearly everything out from the road version of the subcompact crossover (read: tall hatchback) to become a supercar killer. To start, it’ll accelerate to 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds and has enough grip to hold 1.7 g of lateral acceleration. To achieve this, everything about the build is custom, including an intercooler overhaul, a reworked engine with new pistons. The exhaust boasts titanium retainers and sounds wicked, at least for a four-cylinder. The turbocharger churns out 23 PSI of boost and brings overall power output to a whopping 600 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. Toyota’s team developing the mad crossover has tracked the R-Tuned CH-R 10 times and done a series of twelve road tests.
The aerodynamic elements of the build generate a reported 300 lbs of downforce at 120 mph. The shocks were developed from scratch as well and the brakes use two-piece rotors with floating aluminum clamps. The car set a lap record at Southern California’s Willow Springs on a hot August day with a scorching temperature of 115 degrees. This beast is nearly a complete custom job and is a far cry from the factory model and we hope it gives way to a hotter version of the C-HR as Toyota rolls out more TRD road-going models for the U.S. market.
The winner of the Battle of the Builders contest will be chosen on November 3rd. More importantly, when automakers like Toyota go all-out to create crazier versions of their usual lineup, the enthusiast community wins in the end.