Coffee and a Concept: Dodge Super8 Hemi Concept

It combined the love of muscle cars, "gangster" low riders, and elements of rat rod culture into one strong concept.

In 2001, Dodge was struggling as a brand. Pickup trucks were the only profitable part of the its lineup. And the merger with Daimler (parent company of Mercedes-Benz) to form DaimlerChrysler was struggling to bear fruit. But the new siblings at Dodge and Mercedes-Benz were getting along and cooperating behind the scenes. A big showing of that cooperative spirit was had when the Super8 Hemi Concept was unveiled.

Pulling from Dodge designs of the past, especially the original 300, and incorporating then-current design motifs from the brand’s larger vehicles, the Super8 Hemi was in-your-face nostalgic. It combined the love of muscle cars, “gangster” low riders, and elements of rat rod culture into one strong concept.

It may look bulky and cringe-worthy to onlookers now, as we move into the 1980s for our current nostalgia, but in the early 2000s, the 1970s hot rod culture was king. And the Super8 encapsulated that genre beautifully.

What’s more, it brought several things to the forefront that returned Dodge (and Chrysler) to new high points. The Dodge Super8 Hemi Concept was built on what would eventually become the LX platform that made Dodge and SRT-branded muscle great again. A collaboration between Dodge and Mercedes engineers, the LX became the underpinning for the rear-biased Dodge Charger and Challenger as well as the Chrysler 300. Cars that, for the next two decades, would dominate what most would picture as modern American muscle.

All three of those cars were also heavily influenced by the return of the “Hemi” name to Dodge’s nomenclature. Previously used for a series of engines that gained fame for their efficient (for the time) power production, the hemispherical shape of the combustion chamber was not necessarily Dodge’s invention, but the name “Hemi” being attached to it certainly was.

The nostalgic throwback looks of the sinister Challenger and Charger (whose names were swapped with their 1960s-70s counterparts) were a direct appeal.

Designers Rob McMahon and Kevin Verdun were primarily responsible for the Super8 Hemi’s design. From the concept, we can see the abrupt hood, the low-tire stance, and  the fastback-like rake of the rear roofline found in the modern Charger and 300 models.

Under the Super8 Concept’s hood was a 5.7-liter V8 that had debuted in a Chrysler 300 Hemi C concept the year before. This engine, already about to see use elsewhere in the Chrysler-Dodge lineup, would become the staple V8 upon which nearly all of the various Chrysler brand vehicles would depend.

Outside of design, architecture, and powerplant, though, the Super8 Hemi Concept also foretold the coming advent of infotainment as we know it today. Including in-car Internet connectivity for things like traffic updates and in-vehicle communications. It could be argued that this forward thinking shown in the Super8 explains why Chrysler’s current Uconnect infotainment is one of the best on the market.

Where is the Dodge Super8 Hemi Concept today? It had been on display in the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, which closed in 2016. The cars from that collection were then put into storage and are occasionally brought out for events and showcases. The Super8 Hemi Concept is believed to be among those.

Aaron Turpen
An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at