This is an installment in a series of posts looking back on show cars that we feel deserved a little more attention than they got. If you have a suggestion for a Forgotten Concept topic, please shoot us a line or leave a comment below.
Forgotten Concept: Dodge Super8 Hemi
First Shown: 2001 Detroit Auto Show
Description: Retro-themed large sedan
Sales Pitch: “Embodies the culture and essence of American optimism.”
First shown at the 2001 Detroit Auto Show, the retro-themed Super8 Hemi foreshadowed the introduction of a family of large rear-drive Dodge cars, and the return of the Hemi V8 engine. Dodge’s parent company at the time was DaimlerChrysler, and according to Freeman Thomas, DaimlerChrysler’s Vice President of Advanced Product Design Strategy, the Super8 Hemi design was influenced by Fifties-era diners and juke boxes. The large four-door sedan rode on a 117-inch wheelbase and wore bodyside “strakes” in a nostalgic translucent green-turquoise, as well as an incongruously low, swoopy roofline with a late-Fifties-style wraparound windshield. The front-hinged front doors and rear-hinged rear doors opened to reveal a pillarless passenger compartment–a bit of pure show-car fancy. Inside, the steering wheel and some interior trim pieces picked up the green-turquoise theme of the bodyside strakes.
The Super8 featured a 5.7-liter V8 with hemispherical cylinder heads that was rated at a 353 horsepower. The “Hemi” engine mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission and was capable of propelling the Super8 to 60 mph from a stop in a claimed 5.7 seconds. The “passenger-priority” cabin feature theater-style seating–the rear seats were situated higher than the front seats–and push-button transmission control.
Though the Super8’s design was largely panned by critics, its lineage was clearly evident in the styling of the well-received Chrysler 300 sedan and its Dodge Magnum station-wagon counterpart (both of which launched in 2004 as 2005 models), and the reborn Dodge Charger, which followed for the 2006 model year.
The Super8 is so ugly it angers me. What I think troubles me most is the wasted reverse-angle A-pillar. The reversed front pillar–which was never actually a Dodge design element, but was so effective on cars like the 1959-1960 Chevrolet–just adds to the design confusion here. Likewise, the short rear deck seems at odds with the long hood and awkward roof rake.
That said, the Super8 did effectively stir up interest in DaimlerChrysler’s forthcoming big rear-drive cars and the Hemi V8 engine. The revival of a legendary engine last produced in 1971, the reborn Hemi V8–really an all-new engine dubbed “Hemi”–returned first in Dodge Ram pickup trucks in 2003. We will ignore the odd Hemi-branded Mitsubishi engine with found its way under the hood of a few Chrysler products in the Eighties.
Concept Car Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)
Super 8 Hemi
Super 8 Hemi