Best Mopar Concept Cars of All Time

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Automakers gather yearly at car shows to present concept vehicles from the minds of their designers. What are the best Mopar concept cars of all time?

The best concept cars that Mopar has produced over the years are listed below.

  • Plymouth XNR (1960)
  • Dodge T-Rex (1997)
  • Chrysler Atlantic (1995)
  • Dodge Copperhead (1997)
  • Plymouth Backpack (1995)
  • Dodge Sidewinder (1997)
  • Jeepster Concept (1998)
  • Chrysler ME Four-Twelve (2004)
  • Dodge Zeo (2008)

There is an old truth that any car executive will tell you. Building a car isn’t easy because it requires a long and painful process. A car (or truck) starts as an idea in someone’s head, translates to sketches and drawings on a designer's draft table, and then gets built as a clay model, then a concept car. Only after severe tests, which require meeting a detailed list of safety, cost, and performance standards, then and only then, the car might make its way into production. Not every car makes it. Some concept cars are rejected and never make it to dealer showrooms. If they are lucky, these one-off cars are shown as examples of possibilities at auto shows. The hope is that these modern marvels will get tongues wagging enough to translate into sales for other more established models. While developing a concept car might seem like wasted energy, we assure you it isn’t. Many of the components we enjoy in today’s vehicles were first found in concept cars. So we thought it might be fun to pay homage to the process of the concept car and review some of the best concept cars produced by Mopar over the years. Let’s see if we can’t find some appreciation for these cars that are anything but forgotten.

Table of Contents


What Are The Best Concept Cars by Mopar?

Over the years, plenty of concept cars have been produced by Mopar. We have listed our favorites below.

Plymouth XNR (1960)

1960 Plymouth XNR
1960 Plymouth XNR

When Plymouth needed a concept car to compete against the Corvette, they turned to an innovative designer, Virgil Exner, who had ventured over from Studebaker a decade before. Exner rejected the traditional designs of older model Plymouths, which had been losing sales, and decided to commission Carrozzeria Ghia (an Italian design company) to create an influx of new models. One of the results was the XNR, an open roadster with a long hood based on a Plymouth Valiant Platform. One defining characteristic was the asymmetrical wedge-shaped hood scoop extending back toward the windscreen and continuing in the middle of the rear trunk. The front fascia was very Dodge Challenger or Dodge Charger-esque, even though the cars hadn’t been invented yet.

The rear-wheel drive sports car achieved 146 mph due to its aerodynamics, even though a 2.8L slant-six cylinder powered it. The car’s name went through several variations called “the Asymmetrica” for a time before settling in on the XNR (which was an indirect reference to the chief designer's name).

The car was sold overseas a few times, residing in Lebanon for many years, when it was recognized, purchased, and shipped back to Canada for restoration. In 2012, the car was sold to a private collector at a Sotheby’s auction for $935,000.

Dodge T-Rex (1997)

The Dodge RAM TRX was introduced in 2021, but it was not the first attempt to incorporate a Tyrannosaurus Rex motif. In 1997, Dodge produced a six-wheeled monster that made the truck resemble a post-apocalyptic runner from a Mad-Max movie. With dual rear axles, a heavy-duty roll cage, and four bright spotlights on top of the roof, this Dodge T-Rex truck was designed to kick ass.

The T-Rex was equipped with a Magnum V-10, also offered in the RAM 2500 and 3500. Due to the dual rear axles, the engine produced 300 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque and could scoot down the straight in 7.7 seconds. The truck was a heavy behemoth, having a curb weight of over 12k lbs. A beefed-up four-speed backed up the V10. Even though Dodge never intended to create such a truck for production, it would have fit right in with two of the biggest blockbusters of the nineties, Jurassic Park and its sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

Chrysler Atlantic (1995)

The Chrysler Atlantic was based on the Bugatti coupes from the 1930s. It was powered by a 4.0 straight-eight engine (two four-cylinder engines from the Dodge Neon), producing roughly 360 horsepower. The front fascia was reminiscent of the Plymouth Prowler (the Prowler concept was made in ‘93), with large rounded fenders leading to rounded windows and a curved posterior.

The Atlantic offered a leather interior seated four, with Art Deco gauges on the instrument panel. The car was equipped with four-wheel independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. A Chrysler Autostick transmission that was available in many Chrysler models backed up the engine.

Ultimately, the car was deemed too expensive to produce, so it never made it to mass production. However, the car made the circuit in 1995 at auto shows, creating tremendous buzz. The car was so popular among car enthusiasts that it still appears today. If you want to see it in person, you only have to visit it at the Chrysler Museum in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the car makes its home.

Dodge Copperhead (1997)

When the Viper was all the rage, one of the primary complaints of the sports car was that it was dangerous to drive. Dodge tried to counter that objection by offering a safer, milder version of the Viper called the Copperhead, emphasizing driver comfort rather than all-out speed. It was powered by an all-aluminum DOHC 2.7L LH V6, which produced 220 hp and 188 lb-ft of torque. The expansive stance and double wishbone suspension made the Copperhead a blast to drive.

Dodge planned to price the car around $30,000 and seemed to intend to bring the Copperhead to production until the name became embroiled in a legal battle. (Billy Gibbons, a singer of ZZ Top, had registered a 1950 Ford Coupe with the same name). Dodge changed the name to ‘Concept Vehicle” for media release, but the car never reached the assembly line. Part of the reason might have been the lack of sales the Viper had produced during the year (1,762 models). With the advent of the Plymouth Prowler entering the market, Dodge didn’t want to further detract from Viper sales by offering a cheaper model.

Plymouth BackPack (1995)

We wanted to include a quirky little concept truck that appeared in the 90s. It might not have created as much buzz as the Chrysler Atlantic or have been Mopar’s best offering, but it was undoubtedly an example of the thinking of the nineties when compacts were all the rage. The Plymouth Backpack was a concept car developed by Plymouth in 1995. Debuting at the ‘95 Chicago Auto Show, it was designed as a front-wheel drive compact pickup truck. The car was based on Neon influences, the chief designer, Tom Gale, was attempting to design what he felt would be a future vehicle for the car company, but the compact truck didn’t create much positive feedback.

The interior had enough room for a driver and front passenger but little else. (The driver’s seat offset, and the passenger seat could fold down to provide a pseudo-computer table - which doesn’t seem very practical). The cargo bed was big enough for a bike rack built into the rear cargo area.

Powering the quirky compact pickup was a Mopar 2.0L OHC four-cylinder, producing an underwhelming 135 hp. The car never made it past the concept stage; it wasn’t long before it faded from Plymouth’s memory.

Dodge Sidewinder (1997)

The Sidewinder answers what might happen if a pickup were made into a convertible. The V10 motor created an unreal 640 hp and 530 lb-ft of torque while taking on every competitor on the track with a sub-four 0 - 60 mph time. The lightweight pickup had the front of a Dodge sedan, the back had a foldable tailgate but looked very stylish, and there was a pair of bucket seats with a modern interior for both driver and passenger.

Paired with a manual four-speed transmission and 22-inch wheels, the Dodge Dakota Sidewinder was ahead of its time. When Chevrolet unveiled the SSR some six years later, they would have done well to take the route of the Sidewinder, and scrap plans for production, because sales for GM's high-powered roadster/pickup were dismal at best.

Jeepster Concept (1998)

Many concept cars begin with a “What if” question, precisely what happened when Jeep wondered what a sports car with off-road capability might look like. The 1998 Jeepster concept car was powered by a 4.7L 16-valve V8 engine that was no slouch. The “Powertech” engine produced 235 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. (This new engine was the same one that made its way into the ‘99 Jeep Grand Cherokee).

The Jeepster had a four-speed transmission, Quad-Trac II, with 4WD in high and low. With 19-inch oversized tires, the Jeepster had a lower front than the rear and looked almost dune buggyish with its aggressive slope. With adjustable height clearance that could be changed on the fly, the Jeepster concept car attempted to marry the best of a performance sports car with a Jeep Wrangler.

The concept Jeepster had run-flat tires, eliminating the need for a spare and lightening the car's overall weight. The front fascia was all Jeep, although it had a front lower than the rear, which gave it a formidable appearance.

While the Jeepster (in its 1998 form) never made it to production (There was a Jeepster made from 1948 - 51), the current concept car can be viewed at the Conner Center in Detroit and many other Mopar concept cars.

Chrysler ME Four-Twelve (2004)

When the Chrysler Corporation debuted its version of the modern supercar at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2004, the ME Four-Twelve created tremendous traction as people began talking. The idea that an American car company could produce a supercar with a V12 engine and four turbochargers and cover it with an aluminum and carbon fiber body was a dream. But, there was, in all of its gleaming glory.

The 6.0L V12 (which was a modified AMG engine) produced 850 hp, and 850 lb-ft of torque, blistering the track in a 0 - 60 mph time of 2.85 seconds, a quarter mile in a scorching 10.6, and a top speed of 248 mph. (Those figures might seem normal for supercars today, but back in 2004, those numbers were astonishing).

The lightweight car sported a sleek low-to-the-ground stance, with aggressive European supercar styling, and seemed poised to move into production within the next few years after its introduction. The car made it to an actual prototype but was deemed too expensive to produce. When Mercedes decided that it didn’t want an American-made supercar with an AMG V12, that decision sealed the deal. (Secretly, they didn’t want a car that could beat their SLR MacLaren, which had recently been released).

Dodge Zeo (2008)

When Dodge debuted this EV four-passenger people mover at the 2008 North American International Auto Show, the desire for electric vehicles was growing. Tesla had just launched their first production model with their Roadster, and Dodge contemplated moving the Dodge Zeo into production to compete.

The lithium-ion battery produced 268 hp and could motor down the track in 5.7 seconds at 0 - 60 mph with a range of 250 miles. The broad low stance of the car looked very Camaro-like, with large curved fenders, and had scissor-doors that opened up instead of out. While the interior was somewhat sparse, it had a futuristic look, with a simple circle like the steering wheel.

The Zeo could have become a contender in the EV market. (Teslas were expensive then, and Mopar had an opportunity to mass-produce a vehicle that could have undercut the price). The lack of a charging infrastructure ultimately doomed the Zeo, which never made it into production.