How have times changed, eh? These days we can’t convince Dodge to fit an 8.3-litre V10 to the Viper we know, love and now miss. Fifteen years ago, they were sticking it in pick-up trucks and motorbikes.
Yes, the largest cubic capacity production car engine of this era was fitted to something with two wheels by the lunatics who first had the bright idea of optimising a truck engine for a sportscar.
Okay, a couple of concessions. First, the Tomahawk isn’t technically a bike, what with the two (albeit close together) wheels at each end. We can see why trusting a kickstand to hold up 8.3-litres of 500bhp V10 might be somewhat challenging. Secondly, it can’t really be fitted to a bike, as much as the bike (or quadra-cycle) is fitted to it. There’s not much to know that isn’t absolutely bonkers about the 2003 Dodge Tomahawk Concept but we’ll lay it out for you anyway.
Who wouldn’t think a V10-engined bike is cool? Actually, anyone with an aversion to chrome and or any other shiny metallic surface. The Tomahawk is pretty much nothing but. From the manifolds to the steering arms, to the billet-aluminium body wrapped around the engine, to the wheels – everything is either chrome, alloy or something in between. TRON meets Orange County Choppers in the best possible way.
Engine-wise it’s as you may have surmised already. The 500bhp 505 cubic inch fuel-injected V10 from the then-new second-gen Viper. It’s a stressed member of the chassis and, believe it or not, sends power to the rears through chains!
The performance specs are as dizzying as this thing is to look at in bright sunlight: 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds (you’ll keep a Chiron honest) and an estimated top speed of 300mph+ (having waved bye-bye as the Chiron clatters its 260mph limiter).
Thinking about it now, the name Tomahawk is entirely appropriate for such a preposterous device. A kinship with the throwing axes and the $1.9m long-range subsonic cruise missiles with which it shares a name is not difficult to imagine. You’ll find the axe incorporated into the design on what you'd ordinarily think is the fuel tank. At the front, at least, it's inlet manifold, with the inlet butterfly valves visible ahead of the handlebars – the end of the plenum is where you'd normally find the lights. Instead, LED strips sit amid the wheels, front and rear.
Perhaps the then-Senior Vice President of design at Chrysler Group, Trever Creed, summed this monstrous thing it up best:
"The Dodge brand philosophy always challenges us to grab life by the horns… In the case of Tomahawk, grabbing and holding onto anything for dear life is a necessity”.
Oh, the halcyon days of a pre-recession economy, when it was just a word in the dictionary and a footnote in history.