A wolf in sheep’s clothing. A fast bomber. A rocket in disguise. The term Sleeper is widely known inside the automotive world as a vehicle that looks slow but in actuality, is nutso fast. Here’s some food-for-thought. Imagine, if you will, purchasing a brand-new BMW M3 and pulling up to a junked out Chevrolet Pickup at a redlight. You laugh as the truck revs its seemingly broken engine only to breath burnt fuel and witness nothing but faded taillights when the light turns green. Given that the internet is “serious business”, we have complied a Top Ten list of the web’s best known sleepers.
10: 1967 Volvo Amazon Wagon
While it look like a simple resto-modded Volvo, this Amazon packs the punch of 600 horsepower. Built by a Swedish man named Mattias Vöcks, this 67 Wagon uses a heavily built and turbocharged 2.8 liter Volvo straight six to power its rear wheels. Perhaps most famous for racing a Ferrari 599 GTB and winning, you can’t google “Volvo Amazon Wagon” without finding this sleeping gem.
9: 1962 VW Van Swiss Race Taxi
Anyone who played the N64 classics Rush and Rush 2 will surely feel nostalgic about this one. Built by a Swiss racing shop, this 1962 Volkswagen Bus is a combination of a new T3 chassis and the powertrain from a 993 Porsche 911 Turbo. Named the Swiss Race Taxi, the Bus puts 520 horsepower down to the ground via two turbos and a devilish air-cooled flat six. Around 2005, the Taxi gathered some fame for beating up a bunch of sports cars on European race tracks.
8: VG30DETT Mazda MPV
While it may have the appearance of a b0x-stock early 90s utilitarian minivan, this Mazda MPV packs a wicked punch. Family owned and operated, this sleeping beauty has been a part of David Swenson’s life since he was a child. When it was finally gifted to him, he was frustrated and disapointed but he held on to it, eventually cooking up a devilish idea. With aid from his father, the Swenson’s swapped in a modified VG30DETT from a Nissan 300ZX and soon after, went hunting. Featured in Modified Magazine, this MPV puts down nearly 400 horsepower and looks like a complete slug. Perfect
As the name implies, this is what happens when a Volvo is married to a Corvette. Under the hood of this 74o station wagon is a twin-turbocharged LS1 V8 that puts 544 horsepower to the wheels via a Corvette six speed manual. Perhaps what’s most impressive is that the Volvette retains what appears to be a full interior, can travel up to 190 mph and runs quarter miles in the low 11 second range. It also upset a few Yamaha R1 owners with some highway racing.
6: Koenigsegg Powered Ford Granada
The European-spec Ford Granada was built to be, well, a car. Nothing, and we mean nothing, was special about it which means that if one were to make, oh we don’t know, about 1,700 horsepower, it might cause a bit of a ruckus. This UK built sleeper was completely torn down and began gaining some serious hardware such as a Mustang Cobra rear end, full roll cage and custom coilovers. Then the owner fabricated the mounts for a 4.7 liter twin-turbocharged dual cam V8 from a Koenigsegg CCX. Perhaps a bit more modified on the outside than other sleepers, this is still a wolf in sheep’s clothes.
5: THE Volvo 740 Turbo
When we at Empty Road first discovered the internetz (then simply called “the internet”), we stumbled upon this seemingly sleepy Volvo 740. After a brief introduction with one very cool song, one of the internet’s most watched vehicular videos begins with a frenzy of white smoke, backfires, turbo spools, bov whistles and ridiculous slip angles. This heavily modified mid 90s brick produces around 500 some horsepower and clearly has an issue with traction. It also has an appetite for tires.
4: Dynamotorsports’ Toyota Camry
This is what happens when a Canadian tuning company gets their hands on a mid 90s Toyota Camry. The lunatics at DynaMotorsports created this masterpiece a few years ago and it quickly became a viral head scratcher. By strapping a massive HKS T51R turbo to a “built” 1MZ-FE 3.0 liter V6, this automatic transmisson four door grocery getter puts an astonishing 728 horsepower to ground. Tuned at 38 PSI with a fuel mix of 50/50 94 and 114 octaine, this former mommy-mobile can beat up most supercars… as long as the road is straight.
3: The Chevrolet Farm Truck
While it may look like a junky late 70s Chevrolet C10 that barely runs and is used to haul stuff down a path and back, this Oklahoma gem packs a massive punch. Multiple times has this sleeper ran down the 1320 in about 10 seconds all while embarrassing actual sports cars. It has been seen doing wheel stands and massive burnouts which come courtesy of a 502 cubic big block Chevrolet performance crate engine. Littered with dents, dings, rust and a camper top, this piece of junk is actually a dragstrip terror.
2: 1972 Chevrolet Nova
No go? More like “please slow down before we either die or reverse time.” It’s dented and pale green, but this formerly slow Nova is now stupidly fast thanks to 1,160 horsepower. Featured on most of the internet’s cool automotive websites, this old Chevy uses a modern LS1 V8 and two superchargers to deliver its punch. While some may believe this deserves to be number 1, it is still a Nova and thus, people still think it could be fast because after all, this isn’t the first one built for speed.
1: 1980 Ford Fairmont
Originally created during a time when all new vehicles were terrible, this brown and boxy Ford family sedan looks, well, like an old brown and boxy Ford family sedan. In reality, it is powered by a turbocharged, nitrous snorting, LSX; spits flames, runs 9 second quarter mile times and can put down 700 plus horsepower. This, in our minds, is the definition of the automotive term ‘sleeper’.