I’ve been waiting for over six months to put the cherry on top of my “Fast and the Furious” Toyota Prius build — the cherry being the act of filling the bottle on the newly installed nitrous kit. I had completed some modifications to the suspension, and way too much cosmetically to make it resemble the famous Supra, but the only real performance mod was the nitrous. With the car complete, there was no reason for me to delay filling the bottle and pushing the little red button for this long, except perhaps that I knew in my gut exactly what would happen.
At first, I couldn’t even get my Prius to start, as the last time it had been moved was for my bachelor party last year. It had been sitting for so long, the battery was completely flat — but, thankfully, it was easily revived after a few hours on a trickle charger. I had forgotten how much attention this car gets during my drive across town to fill the bottle with nitrous for the first time — but unlike my Rolls-Royce and McLaren, people don’t gaze upon the Prius in admiration. Most point at me and laugh, but unlike a lot of owners of ridiculously tacky looking tuner cars, I’m fully in on the joke.
After filling the nitrous bottle, I planned to hit the local drag strip for a quarter-mile comparison between my Prius on normal oxygen versus a 50 shot of nitrous. This was the most conservative nozzle I could use with the kit provided — but my mechanic, the Car Wizard, did tell me it was very possible the engine would explode. The only experience I had with nitrous before this was watching the “Fast and the Furious” movies — so I really had no idea what I was doing.
Unlike in the movies, nitrous oxide isn’t something that explodes. Rather, it dramatically improves the performance of the engine by feeding it super-cooled and condensed air. Considering the Prius’ engine was designed to use as little fuel as possible, I wasn’t sure if ramming nitrous down its throat would help performance much, if at all. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to get any quantifiable data, as it started raining shortly after getting the nitrous, which closed the drag strip, and the rain didn’t stop for days.
On the fourth day of almost non-stop rain, I was scheduled to leave for a 9-day trip overseas, but I couldn’t go without pushing the button once. So I went to a closed road a few miles from my house, I lined my Prius up for a 0-to-60 mph run and I floored the throttle. Once the Prius hit about 20 mph, I pushed the little red button installed on my dashboard that squirts nitrous into the intake — and the engine immediately exploded.
There may have been a split second of rapid acceleration, but since the roads were wet, the tires couldn’t get any traction. After that brief surge came a bang, followed by a noise similar to rocks in a clothes dryer — then parts of my engine began littering the road. Thanks to the hybrid battery, I was able to limp my Prius to a turnoff, where I could gaze upon my monumental stupidity. Coincidentally, the sky had chosen this moment to finally stop raining.
With my flight in a few hours, I was forced to abandon my Prius and Uber my way home. Other than a quick drive by the debris field to remove potentially tire-puncturing bits from the road, there was no time to investigate the aftermath. My friend arranged a tow truck for the Prius while I dashed to the airport, and it will be a few weeks before I can look at the carnage. Most people would junk an old cheap car after an expensive, catastrophic failure like this, but I really feel bad about killing my poor little Prius — so maybe I’ll get it going again. One thing is for sure, though: my curiosity regarding nitrous has been fully, and expensively satisfied. Never again … Find a Toyota Prius for sale
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