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2009 SEMA Show: Kustomizing the Toyota Prius

Consumer Reports News: November 04, 2009 01:02 PM

Back in the 1960s, long before marketing types had the option of simply ignoring spell check as has become the norm today, George Barris was known as King of the Kustomizers.
The King was the guy behind a number of designs recognizable to millions today, including many car-spotters who weren’t yet born when George and his team created them, such as the original Batmobile.
George is still in business, and he and his team chose SEMA to show their take on a Toyota Prius. The car was here last year, too, but what makes his Kustom more interesting is that Toyota is showing their own customized Prius this year, and it’s just down the hall. 
Barris-Kustom-Prius-fThe Barris Kustom sports a trademark metalflake paint job, in this case a green and gold that could be, well, right out of the ‘60s. Toyota opted for a more subtle look, a pale metalflake blue that might indicate a corporate desire to not get too crazy with the Prius faithful. No harm, no foul.
Both opted for custom wheels, but where George went down the eighteen-inch chrome road with hubs painted green, Toyota chose clear plastic discs over their wheels for less drag. Toyota also fitted clear curved panels over the A pillars they say further reduce drag, but no information was offered as to how much drag these accessories reduced. Looking odd is just a bonus.
Those A-pillar panels probably wouldn’t have worked for George, because he added scissors front doors to his Prius. No information as to what those doors might do or not do for drag was offered, either.
But hey, they’re cool. And green. And metalflake.
Could hybrids be the next great frontier for hot rodders?

Jim Travers

Also see from the 2009 SEMA show:
Better than expected, future looks greener
Tire testing and the transformation of the tire industry
Our favorite modified Chevrolet Camaros
New iPhone apps for auto diagnostics
World's fastest Honda Civic circa 1976
All shades of green project cars
Surfrider Toyota Camry hybrid CNG
Hot rodders turning green
Auto aftermarket prepares for show time in Las Vegas

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