For fifteen years, modifying cars has been my passion. I’ve
run 21 psi boost on a 3-cylinder Daihatsu Mira, rebuilt a BMW 3.0si engine and
played with cars as diverse as a V8 Lexus LS400 and a turbo Nissan Maxima V6.
For the last decade or so it’s been not only a hobby but also a
livelihood – over that period I’ve worked full-time for both automotive print
and performance on-line magazines.
But a few years ago I started getting bored. After all, there’s
only so many cars fitted with huge turbos or even bigger exhausts you can feel
excited about. I’d seen it all before – and it no longer thrilled. Then I came
across a hybrid Toyota Prius at a price I couldn’t go past. A grey market
Japanese import, it was the very first domestic Japanese model. Compared with
the two Prius models sold new in Australia (see the Prius Models panel), it had
less engine and electric power but it was still a full hybrid petrol/electric
Here was a car I could really get my modification teeth into –
literally anything I did would be cutting edge, never done by anyone else in the
Forget ringing up the local workshop to ask what turbo size
would be suitable; don’t bother joining an on-line discussion group to find out
what flow injectors are fitted; don’t worry about looking around for
off-the-shelf electronic aftermarket parts.
I wanted a challenge – and this was certainly