If we had to venture a guess, we'd wager the majority of Truck Trend readers don't particularly care for the Toyota Prius. Not that the thrifty, wedge-shaped hatchback isn't without its virtues, but it just happens to be antithetical to just about everything most enthusiasts enjoy about cars.
Hot Rod editors David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan, who also happen to be host of the Roadkill web video series on the Motor Trend Channel, are also self-admitted Prius haters. But in the interest of fairness, they wanted to give the poster child of the self-satisfied environmentalist crowd a chance to prove itself…against a 38-year-old AMC Gremlin.
To those who think that comparison is a bit of a stretch, Freiburger makes the case that both cars were designed with economy in mind, and both cars had controversial styling at the time of their introduction. But the Prius the pair took possession of wasn't exactly a showroom-fresh specimen. It was a tired, high-mileage whip with more than 289,000 miles on the odometer.
The Toyota was holding up surprisingly well against its disco-era competitor, outaccelerating, outhandling, and outeconomizing it. It was beginning to look like a clean sweep for this unlikely hero. But a spirited flog at the Streets of Willow in Southern California finally exorcized the green ghost out of the Prius, with some vicious piston slap that ultimately culminated in some minor pyrotechnics under the car.
With the high-mileage hybrid finally out of commission, Freiburger and Finnegan did the responsible thing, and recycled the Prius. But rather than using a common, boring hydraulic crusher, they used a much more entertaining and equally effective tool, a tank. As you can imagine, the footage is epic, and epically satisfying for those of us who have been stuck behind these rolling capsules of smugness in the left lane. Enjoy the video below!
Watch Roadkill every fourth Friday on the Motor Trend Channel