Concept cars don’t have to obey boundaries or follow anyone’s rules—that’s the fun of them. Often, their job is only to provoke thought and stimulate interest in new ideas.
Take the Dodge Super8 Hemi, for instance. Introduced at the 2001 Detroit Auto Show, the concept was nothing less than an effort to redefine the traditional American family sedan. And naturally, not everyone knew quite what to make of the outside-the-box design. Wrote one journalist, “This Dodge concept manages to be retro, futuristic and just plain bizarre all at once.”
Well played, Super8. Mission accomplished.
The Super8’s name was a cute play on words, inspired by the old home movie camera format and by the engine under the hood: an experimental 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 353 hp. The production version of this powerplant wouldn’t appear in showrooms for another two years. Equipped with a prototype four-speed automatic transmission with retro push-button controls, the Super8 could do 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds with a top speed of 154 mph.
The Super8’s styling was equally daring and experimental, with a ‘50s-style wraparound windshield and reverse-sweep A-pillars. The familiar Dodge crosshair grille is evident, but this was the biggest, boldest example ever seen on a passenger car, taking up much of the front elevation. The interior featured the latest in telematics and mobile entertainment for 2001, but rendered in a retro-futuristic turbine theme in brushed aluminum and fine top-grain leather.
As we know, the Super8 never went into production. However, its V8 rear-drive layout did contribute key elements to the platform that became today’s Dodge Charger. The Super8 also achieved another kind of automotive immortality: In 2005, a stylized, miniature version was produced as a Mattel Hot Wheels toy. Among car designers, that’s regarded as a supreme honor.