• 10 Must-Know Facts About the Dodge Tomahawk

Powered by a Viper V-10 engine, the Dodge Tomahawk has four wheels and was claimed to be able to do over 400 mph!

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Concept vehicles don’t come much crazier than the Dodge Tomahawk, a four-wheeled ’motorcycle’ powered by an 8.3-liter V-10 engine from a Dodge Viper. The Dodge Tomahawk’s top speed was rated at 420 mph, but no one ever was foolish enough to try it out. Had someone tried it, it could’ve been the fastest motorcycle in the world. Only one was built by Dodge, but nine others were built by Neiman Marcus and sold for $550,000 each!

Back in 2003, Dodge unveiled the wildest concept vehicle ever in the shape of the Dodge Tomahawk. Powered by the 8.3-liter V-10 engine from the Dodge Viper, it was conceived by Chrysler Group employees, Bob Schroeder and Dave Chyz.

It was unveiled at the 2003 North American International Auto Show as a one-off concept vehicle and gained huge publicity for the Chrysler Group, but it was never destined for production, although Nieman Marcus constructed nine replicas for sale. There’s a lot more to this concept vehicle, though, and here are 10 facts about the Dodge Tomahawk that you must know.

No One Can Decide If It’s A Car Or A Motorcycle

10 Must-Know Facts About the Dodge Tomahawk
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The Dodge Tomahawk has a car engine and four wheels, mounted close together at the front and the back, but no one can decide if it is a motorcycle or a car. Each wheel is independently sprung and the vehicle can lean into corners while keeping both wheels on the ground and allowing counter-steering, which is essential to helping a motorcycle turn. It is ‘ridden’ like a motorcycle, with the steering being by handlebars and foot pegs fitted.

It Wasn’t Road Legal

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Because the Dodge Tomahawk was a concept vehicle, it didn’t undergo the type-approval testing needed to make it road legal and it did not conform to regulations for street use. This was a pure engineering and marketing exercise by Dodge.

Dodge Claimed the Top Speed Was 420 mph

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The Dodge Tomahawk’s top speed was a hypothetical estimate, given the horsepower developed by the Dodge Viper engine. Dodge engineer said, ‘if a 3,400-pound Dodge Viper goes 190 [miles per hour], this [the Dodge Tomahawk] will go 400, easily.’ Later, the automaker revised the Dodge Tomahawk’s top speed estimate to 300 mph, based on the gearing of the vehicle. This would have made it comfortably the fastest bike in the world.

It Was Only Produced for Four Years

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While Dodge produced just the one concept vehicle, Neiman Marcus went on to produce nine replicas between 2003 and 2006, costing $550,000 each.

No One Ever Published a Road Test of the Dodge Tomahawk

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Because it was a concept bike and not road legal - even the replicas built by Nieman Marcus - no publication has ever got its hands on a Dodge Tomahawk for a road test. Because of this, we will never know what the top speed might be or even if it is practical as a vehicle.

Dodge built the Tomahawk For A Specific Reason

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Even though it was purely a concept and never intended for production, Dodge built the Tomahawk in order to showcase its engineering and technical skills. Calling it a ‘rolling sculpture’, it was designed to create interest among the media and show that the Chrysler Group was ambitious and bold, willing to take risks and think out of the box.

The V-10 Engine Was Unveiled In 1992

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The first generation V-10 engine, as fitted to the new-for-1992 Viper had a displacement of 7,990cc and produced 400 horses. The power output was pushed up to 450 horsepower for the second generation. The third generation of the engine - the one that was fitted to the Tomahawk - displaced 8,285cc and produced 510 horses.

The Engineering Was Pretty Wild

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Fitting a V-10 engine into a motorcycle concept was not easy. To keep the bike low, the engine was changed from wet sump to dry sump lubrication, with the oil tank mounted remotely at the front of the bike. The cooling radiators were moved into the ‘V’ of the engine and air was pushed through them by a belt-driven fan sourced from a Porsche 911.

The four wheels were mounted on the individual front and rear swing arms - outboard at the front and inboard at the rear - and employed hub-centre steering on the front wheels. Because of the suspension arrangement, the bike could still lean in corners while keeping all four wheels on the ground. The rim-mounted disc brake rotors were used at the front and back, with both front wheels having a disc and only one wheel at the back featuring it,

The rear suspension can be locked when the bike is upright so the Tomahawk can stand on its own, without the need for a side-stand.

The Chassis Components Were Milled From Billet Aluminum

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The main chassis components started out as two 750-pound billets of aluminum that were machined down to just 25 pounds each!

Press Reaction to the Dodge Tomahawk Was Critical

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At first, the press didn’t know what to make of the Tomahawk, with one critic calling it, ‘one of Chrysler’s nuttiest concepts.’ Others criticized Dodge for disregarding the rules of motorcycle design and for not being able to decide if the Tomahawk was a sports bike or a cruiser. While the Tomahawk was ‘not designed to be taken seriously,’ critics said the only reason Dodge built the Tomahawk was for the ‘sheer outrage of the exercise,’ and that it was ‘so resolutely evil it has chunks of [Yamaha] V-Max in its stool!’

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is a Dodge Tomahawk?

The Dodge Tomahawk was never manufactured for sale, being a non-road-legal concept. However, Neiman Marcus constructed nine replicas and sold them for $550,000 each.

Why is the Dodge Tomahawk not road legal?

Being a concept, Dodge never sought type approval for the Tomahawk, which meant it could not be road legal.

How Big is the Dodge Tomahawk’s engine?

The Dodge Tomahawk is powered by an 8.3-liter V-10 engine from a Dodge Viper. It produces 500 horsepower and 525 pound-feet of torque.

Is the Dodge Tomahawk a real bike?

No one can agree if the Dodge Tomahawk is a motorcycle or a car. It has four wheels that are mounted very close together in pairs at the front and rear. The ‘rider’ sits on it and controls it via handlebars and foot pegs as on a motorcycle.

What is the Dodge Tomahawk’s top speed?

When it was launched, Dodge claimed a 420 miles per hour top speed, but later reduced that claim to 300 miles per hour. Neither figure was ever proven.

How much does a Dodge Tomahawk cost?

The Dodge Tomahawk was merely a concept and never went up for sale. Texas-based group, Neiman Marcus, however, produced nine replicas of the Tomahawk and sold it at 550,000 bucks a pop.

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
Motorcycling Contributor
Born and raised in England, he has lived in South Africa with his family since 2002. Harry has owned examples of Triumph, Norton, BSA, MV Agusta, Honda, BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Moto Morini motorcycles. He regrets selling all of them.  Read full bio
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