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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  Jan 16 2012, 12:45 PM

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To say there’s a strong tuner car culture for hybrids in Japan might be a bit too generous. Oh, there’s no doubt the Japanese love to modify the cars, but perhaps the term “customization” is more accurate.

At this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon there was the usual selection of Prius model with wild bodykits and big wheels. And while most take a step towards the extreme, the Lumiere Prius Hybrid Interceptor police car still looks pretty mean. At the opposite end of the we’d-drive-it spectrum is the DAD Prius v, complete with oversized wheels blinged out with Swarovski crystals.

Along with conventional Prius models, the aftermarket has expanded to include the new additions to the Prius family, like the Prius v wagon and even the smaller Prius c.

See all the cars below:

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 |  Nov 03 2010, 8:24 PM

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Toyota products have often been criticized for being a bit too tame, lacking in enthusiasm while operating more like appliances. In an effort to distract from that reality, Toyota and the RK Collection have built a custom NASCAR edition Camry that does more than just look the part.

Powered by a massive 358 ci TRD NASCAR V8 power plant, this Camry puts out 680-hp at 8500 rpm. Gliding it through the gears is a Tremic T-56 Magnum 6-speed manual transmission equipped with Ram’s dual-disc street clutch. Enhancing the V8 is a custom 3-inch exhaust, Thrush mufflers and custom side exhaust tips.

Also helping to do away with the image of a sedate family sedan is the fact that the NASCAR Camry isn’t a sedan at all. Instead it’s a coupe with just two doors. The Camry coupe features an exterior shell custom-made by RKC and includes a full body kit, Toyota grill, carbon fiber brake ducts with fog lights and of course, TRD emblems throughout. On all four corners are stylish 20-inch TSW Jarama wheels. They are staggered with a 8.5-inch wide fitment in the front and a 10-inch wide fitment in the rear. They come wrapped with Michelin Pilot rubber.

No race-inspired machine would be complete with a wicked suspension setup. The Camry receives modified Macpherson struts in the front, while the rear sports Venza’s modified multi-link independent suspension.

Inside the panels have been covered in leather while the headliner has been finished in suede. SPEK gauges by Proparts are seen in the dashboard while Vintage Air provides air conditioning. A four-point roll cage was also installed not to only stiffen the chassis, but to reinforce for safety.

With its official debut at SEMA, the NASCAR Edition Camry will now head to Phoenix International Raceway for the NASCAR race weekend starting November 12th.

GALLERY: NASCAR Edition Camry

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See video of the NASCAR Edition Camry after the jump:

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 |  Oct 07 2010, 1:01 PM

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Built as a SEMA 2010 project, Toyota has been prepping their Tacoma X-Runner RTR and did some baseline test runs out at Pomona this past Tuesday. For those unaware of this project, Toyota was basically looking at producing a “ready to race” Toyota Tacoma X-Runner with the Tundra’s 5.7-liter V8 powerplant. But the fun doesn’t stop there – because a Tundra motor alone isn’t ready to race – TRD steps in with their supercharger and intake kit, pushing the V8 to 504-hp with 550 ft-lbs of torque.

Toyota’s early estimations were that the RTR would be able to hit 11-second quarter mile times. Their first outing (mostly to gather data and get a baseline run) netted a 12.01 @ 116.57 mph pass with NHRA pilot Antron Brown behind the wheel. And for those local to Southern California, you’re well aware that Tuesday didn’t exactly have the best weather to be out testing at the strip.

For the tech-heads wondering what all is really going on with the Tacoma, Toyota has confessed that an enthusiast could build this project on their own. The Tundra powerplant fits snugly under the hood along with its rear axle. Modifications were done to narrow its wide track by 5.7-inches to match the Tacoma’s natural stance. The most complex part of the conversion? You guessed it, the wiring.

Converted namely for the track, the front wheels were narrowed to 4.5-inches wide while the rears are 10-inches wide in order to incorporate Goodyear’s Eagle Dragway slicks. The stance of the truck was also lowered by 4.5-inches along with a new steel driveshaft and the RTR currently sports a prototype mechanical LSD.

We’ll be sure to stop by at SEMA 2010 to check this Tacoma out in person. In the mean time, check out AutoGuide’s complete SEMA Preview page, which will be updated with live coverage starting November 2nd.

GALLERY: Toyota Tacoma X-Runner RTR

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 |  Sep 08 2010, 9:12 PM

We were huge fans of G Sports’ Mark X Sports Concept back at Tokyo Auto Salon and are glad that those lucky photographers and writers out in Japan got a chance to see it up close and personal. Dino Dalle Carbonare is no stranger to AutoGuide, having worked with us back in the Modified Mag days and has reported on the Toyota Mark X from G Sports’ over at SpeedHunters.

Just as we assumed, Gazoo Racing’s variation of the Mark X is built off the 350S version of the Mark X that sports the 3.5L V6 powerplant in our American-based IS350 and GS350. None of the performance has been altered in their concept, so it still sports a modest 318-hp and 280 ft-lbs of torque.

But the aggressive exterior styling is what has us loving this car. The front end is just menacing, and the contrasting carbon fiber shade is a nice touch. Subtle yet functional carbon fiber hood outlets are awesome along with the vents on the rear bumper. There’s even more carbon fiber in the rear diffuser.

It’s worth noting that the interior sports suede-clad Recaro seats full of red accent stitching and tons of carbon fiber accents.

What’s just most exciting about all of this is how Gazoo Racing will help bring Toyota back to the spotlight with its performance-based models and hopefully we’ll be seeing G Sports out in America one day.

Check out many more pics of the G Sports Toyota Mark X sports Concept at the link below:

[Source: SpeedHunters]

 |  Sep 01 2010, 8:54 PM

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There’s a saying we use often when we see projects come to life: “Great concept, poor execution.” Very rarely do we run into a situation where a project is a poor concept with great execution. But that’s exactly what this Toyota Celica is.

Signal Auto is also known as Signal Kustom Built and is one of the top car builders out in Indonesia. They specialize in off-the-wall conversions and crazy rides. Apparently a customer came into the shop with a 2000 Toyota Celica wanting to customize it. The client and Signal Auto decided to convert the Celica to a Ferrari F430 look-a-like. The result is what they call a Cerrari.

It took 18 months to do the conversion with Signal Auto hand-building every single panel rather than retrofitting OEM Ferrari pieces. To complete the car, Signal Auto did a custom air-ride suspension along with a set of chrome Forgiato wheels.

To us the result is just a funny looking car, a little reminiscent of the Lego Ferrari F430. The proportions are obviously a little bit off giving the Celica’s shorter wheelbase but we have to give credit to the guys at Signal Auto for their amazing craftsmanship and making the project look as good as it possibly could. We really could have done without the Ferrari shield on the fenders though.

[Source: Jon Sibal]

GALLERY: Signal Auto Cerrari

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 |  Aug 09 2010, 11:14 PM

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The world of tuning hybrids has really evolved in a short period of time. The good looks of the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius have really captured the Japanese aftermarket. We saw it first hand at the 2010 Tokyo Auto Salon, where the overwhelming amount of customized hybrids caught us by surprise.

Wald International has built a reputation over the years as one of Japan’s premiere manufacturers of high quality styling kits. Mostly geared towards luxury sedans and the entire VIP movement, Wald has now taken a different approach by teasing an upcoming kit for the Toyota Prius. Yep, even Wald is getting their hands dirty with the hybrids.

We’ve only been treated with a single photo of the kit, but we’re already digging it. Instead of changing the entire look of the car and messing with the Prius’ drag coefficient bod, Wald took a conservative approach, adding flair to the front bumper while maintaining a majority of the stock look. We particularly like the side skirts which are a perfect fit to the Prius’ body. We’re curious to see how the rear of the project is shaping up; we’ll be sure to report when we get a full release and pricing on the package.

 |  Nov 10 2009, 12:00 PM

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A big part of the SEMA Show each year (both in terms of quantity and, well, size) is the truck and off-road industry. Some trucks get lowered suspensions and some lifted, some run on supercharged 4-cylinders, while others rely on massive turbocharged diesel units. Yet despite all that divides some truck lovers from others, they all seem to equally love to modify their rigs – often to the extreme.

We’ve gathered together a collection of all (or almost all) of the trucks at the 2009 SEMA Show for you to peruse. We also explored some of the trucks in more detail, including the Dodge Ram Bianco, DeWALT 2011 F-Series Super Duty, the new 411-hp F-150 SVT Raptor, the Toyota Tundra Hot Rod and the Chevy Silverado ZR2. You can find more on those trucks after the jump.

GALLERY: Trucks of the 2009 SEMA Show

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For more on the Dodge Ram Bianco, DeWALT 2011 F-Series Super Duty, the new 411-hp F-150 SVT Raptor and the Chevy Silverado ZR2, see after the jump:

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 |  Nov 04 2009, 7:16 PM

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Toyota actually bothers to spell out in its press release on the Hard Kandy Yaris, that it is aimed at attracting the attention of female buyers. We kind of thought the pink and white interior and exterior was a bit of a give away, but…. whatever….

The custom Yaris also gets a custom body kit, as well as a set of 18-inch wheels and a Corporate Accessories Department (CAD) rear spoiler. There’s even an aftermarket sunroof, because Toyota doesn’t offer a sunroof on the Yaris.

Some the car’s interior is absolutely hideous, like the pink center console and center stack. On the other hand, we love the Alcantara seats and door inserts.

Toyota CAD supplied an interior lighting kit, along with sport pedals and a new shift knob, as well as a Blu-Logic Bluetooth hands-free system. Alpine Eletronics donated an iPod touch screen interface, while West Coast Customs installed a media center that offers 3G internet service.

For more on the Hard Kandy Yaris, see the car’s full specifications after the jump.

GALLERY: Toyota Hard Kandy Yaris

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Nov 04 2009, 6:36 PM

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Built as a tribute to country music duo Brooks and Dunn, Toyota unveiled the Midnight Rider Tundra Tailgater at the 2009 SEMA Show. Out back, the truck’s bed folds out to reveal a complete tailgating station with countertops, a BBQ, an ice chest and even a draft beer tap. Oh, and let’s not forget an external audio system and a 42-inch flat screen TV.

But the modifications don’t stop there, with this Tailgating machine receiving a long list of toys, ranging from fender flares and a 3-inch lift kit, to a set of 20-inch Mickey Thompson “Classic look” wheels and 35-inch tires. There are also some particularly gaudy western silver door handles as well as a bronze cast and chrome plated Brooks and Dunn steer’s skull logo.

GALLERY: Midnight Rider Tundra Tailgater

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 |  Nov 04 2009, 6:18 PM

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Toyota and the Hot Rod movement aren’t two things you’d normally associate with each other, which is why a Hot Rod Toyota Tundra is the perfect concept vehicle for the SEMA Show. Built by Phoenix-based motorcycle shop Sucker Punch Sally’s, the Tundra gets a long list of design cues from the hot rods of the 1950s and ’60s.

The Regular Cab 4×2 gets some matte black paint, red flames and Bonneville moon hubcaps, along with a custom 1950’s Toyota logo on the grille. There’s also a classic cherry bomb exhaust.

The interior gets a long list of custom items like a bench seat, while Fender Guitars was sourced to build custom hand-turned brass control knobs, as well as a polished maple wood cargo deck.

The engine was left stock… which is too bad, because a carbureted NASCAR V8 would certainly have been a cool addition.

This truck is not, as previously thought, a tribute to country music duo Brooks and Dunn. A separate vehicle, the Midnight Rider Tailgater, was also built for that purpose.

GALLERY: Toyota Tundra Hot Rod

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 |  Nov 04 2009, 6:03 PM

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Thanks to tuner Five Axis, the Toyota Prius has never looked this cool. Now in its third generation, the 2010 Prius has gotten considerably better looking over the years, but the two modified versions on display this week at the 2009 SEMA Show take green motoring to a stylish new level.

Five Axis has built numerous Scion and Lexus SEMA vehicles for Toyota Motor Corp. over the years, but for 2009 the designers were called upon to get creative with Toyota’s flagship hybrid. The first of the two cars is called the Prius Aerius (Latin for “belonging to the air”), while the second is called the Prius Aemulus (meaning “envious imitation”). The Aerius is a pure show car, while the Aemulus is a street legal replica with slightly less exciting modifications. It will, however, be given to the Environmental Media Association (EMA) and auctioned off for charity.

Both cars get a Five Axis aero kit that has been made using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software, to not only ensure it looks cool, but also to maintain the Prius’s amazing 0.25 drag coefficient.

The show car gets Five Axis FIVE:AD S6:F 19-inch wheels with clear covers to reduce drag, along with a set of Yokohama Super E-Spec low rolling resistance tires. The actual street car will get slightly less “bling” with factory rollers.

Outside, both cars get a truly amazing custom paint job that resembles the color of the sky, while the rear and side glass has been coated in 3M’s Crystalline Automotive Window Film to block 99.9 percent of UV rays.

Inside the Prius Aerius show car has its seat fabric replaced with 100 percent consumer recycled polyester, while the seatbacks are made of Polyurethane produced by Ultrafabrics that produces almost zero pollutants in the production process. The factory seats weren’t just tossed out either, but recycled to make business cards and cosmetics cases.

GALLERY: Five Axis Toyota Prius Aerius

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 |  Nov 03 2009, 11:09 AM

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Ahead of its official debut later today at the 2009 SEMA Show, Toyota has revealed a single photo of its Hot Rod Tundra. Build by Phoenix-based motorcycle shop Sucker Punch Sally’s, the Tundra gets a long list of design cues from the hot rods of the 1950s and ’60s.

The Regular Cab 4×2 gets some matte black paint, red flames and Bonneville moon hubcaps, along with a custom 1950′s Toyota logo on the grille. There’s also a classic cherry bomb exhaust.

The interior gets a long list of custom items like a bench seat, while Fender Guitars was sourced to build custom hand-turned brass control knobs, as well as a polished maple wood cargo deck.

For more on this truck, see AutoGuide’s live coverage here:

Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…