Although some have said that necessity is the mother of invention, some inventions are not driven by necessity alone. Or is it that necessity doesn’t even come to play? Sometimes, it’s all about the statement, the show of power. There is no limit to what our minds can think. This is the story of Dodge Tomahawk.
When the machine greeted the unsuspecting people attending a motor show in North Carolina for the first time almost 16 years ago, industry players were taken aback. The press, too, was at crossroads. What would the headline be? Was it a motorcycle or a motor vehicle?
Dodge Tomahawk dodged the features of a motorcycle while donning all qualifications of a motor vehicle. With two front and rear wheels, the “one passenger automobile” could cruise at speeds between 480 and 680km/h. Even though the vehicle didn’t have a legal recognition on public roads, it was a clear statement of what Dodge was capable of doing.
The design was awe-inspiring. According to its makers, the design alone took half a year. It literally looks like an art-deco sculpture, rather than a machine meant to be driven. It was fitted with 500-horsepower, 8.3-liter V10 engine taken from the Viper. The parallel front and rear wheels, however, presented a great deal of trouble for engineers. Since they were close to each other, front and rear swingarm suspension was made in such a way that the wheels leaned together while maintaining contact with the ground.
Despite the hype and accolades, this automobile-slash-motorcycle remained untested on any road. Its performance could therefore only be theorized based on computer simulation and imaging. The company termed the invention an “automotive sculpture”. Formal requests to test it were declined by the Dodge insisting that the vehicle was only for display.
Apart from underpinning Dodge’s passion for design, it divided motorcycle and auto industry pundits opinion right in the middle. Some saw it as a joke while others lauded it. For instance, the Autoweek was quoted terming anyone riding the Tomahawk as a “Darwin award contender”. In other sections of the press, Glynn Kerr, a columnist for the Motorcycle Consumer News called it a real motorcycle. In a nutshell, the innovation might not have pleased everyone out there but it got everyone talking. Like it or hate it, Tomahawk was certainly one of the best and most bold advertisements ever.
Image credit: moto.zombdrive.com