The term “sleeper car” has been around for a long time. It is a car that has been modified to be super powerful and fast without looking special in any way. This is a street racing tactic to hustle people out of money or just to watch the look on someone’s face as they get chopped in their noisy challenger by what appears to be a stock car. If you want a perfect example of this term in the real world, look no further than this 512-hp 2012 Hyundai Sonata.
If you get chopped by a Hyundai Sonata, you gots to go home
To truly highlight how insane this build is, you gotta know how far this Sonata has come. The Drive lays out; the 2012 Hyundai Sonata came with two different engine options; a 198-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 274-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Gio Lewis bought the turbocharged verison brand-new back in 2011.
After only a year of ownership, Lewis started modding the Sonata by throwing on a front-mounted intercooler. Soon after that, he deleted the catalytic converter and added nitrous. He did all these mods without changing the exterior of the car at all. This threw the Hyundai Sonata into full-blown super sleeper territory.
Are Hyundai Sonatas even fast? Well, this one is.
Following the initial mods, Lewis decided to start building the motor and snag a bigger turbo, ’cause why not? The Drive quotes Lewis on his build, “I overbuilt it with stronger parts than what’s needed so I can have a car that’s reliable.”
Building highly modded cars like this without using the correct parts and your brain will often cause catastrophic problems. We see bazillion horsepower muscle cars and trucks blow motors or drop a trans on YouTube fail clips and laugh our heads off at the dummies. Still, the truth is, building high horsepower cars as Lewis did is a tricky business that requires a lot of thought and foresight.
You can race anything, even a Hyundai Sonata
Lewis and his wife bought matching Hyundai Sonatas together after retiring from the military. The plan was to maintain the two cars and hopefully pass them down to their kids one day; Lewis decided there was no reason not to race it in the meantime.
Even while he was doing all the upgrading, he would race his Hyundai when possible. When Lewis decided to go for the turbo upgrade, his buddies urged him to reach out to a company called TurboKits. The Connecticut turbo house was looking for a car to test its new kit on. Lewis offered his Sonata up to the turbo Gods as the tester. As proof that Lewis had built not only a super powerful Hyundai Sonata but a reliable one as well, he drove his sleeper from El Paso, Texas, to Connecticut.
If all the mods weren’t enough thus far, Lewis went ahead and slotted his Sonata for a Level 10 Transmission upgrade. The Drive lists the other mods as “sleeved and built motor with K1 connecting rods and forged pistons and a Zex nitrous kit. Additional fueling is provided by a custom-port methanol injection setup connected to an AEM water-methanol system and a custom fifth injector auxiliary fuel setup controlled by a split-second injector controller.”
Hyundai Sleeper cars lurking out there
Now armed with the knowledge that Lewis and his monster Sonata are out there waiting at red lights to chop unsuspecting Charger, Honda Civic, Challenger, or any other commonly modded hot-shot cars, it should make you think twice about flagging down a stock looking Hyundai.