Neither motorcycle nor car, the innovative Dodge Tomahawk is a concept vehicle designed to test the boundaries of its creators’ imaginations with its outside-the-box, fluid character. At first glance, it looks like a souped-up motorcycle until you take a second look.
First of all, the Dodge Tomahawk has four wheels. Granted, each pair of wheels are placed close together so they appear to be one. Yet they are four separate wheels. Car experts still debate how to classify this unique vehicle.
Its engine, though, is all car. Super car, that is. With a 500-hp Viper V-10 engine, the Tomahawk should be able to reach speeds over 400 miles per hour, according to Dodge engineers. Yet, sadly, the vehicle never managed to achieve such a velocity, barely reaching 100 miles per hour in actual tests. It did, however, reach a speed of 60 miles per hour from a standing start in only 2.5 seconds. Its block and its cylinder heads were crafted from aluminum alloy, presumably to lighten the vehicle to achieve higher speeds.
It had a manual two-speed transmission controlled by the driver’s feet and featured a two-disc clutch.
The Dodge Tomahawk debuted at the Detroit Auto Show in 2003. For legal reasons, the vehicle never made it onto American streets, mainly due to the difficulty in classifying it as either a motorcycle or a car, according to experts at Allpar.com, an online source for Chrysler cars and parts. Unfortunately for enthusiasts, the United States’ vehicle safety board, the NHTSA, has no method to rate vehicles that are difficult to classify as one type of vehicle or the other.
Only nine vehicles were produced. Buyers paid over a half-million for each Tomahawk, a hefty price to pay for a vehicle that could only be driven on private property. They were not sold by Dodge dealerships, but rather by high-end specialty store Neiman Marcus.
With engineers in vehicle production companies striving to create faster, more efficient vehicles for road use, the Dodge Tomahawk’s disapproval by the NHTSA should demonstrate the need for a more updated classification system that allows vehicles that defy classification, such as the Tomahawk, to have a chance at making it onto U.S. roads.