How Did the 2023 Dodge Hornet Get Its Name?

Dodge is working on its first all-new vehicle in over a decade. A leaked video from the Alfa Romeo factory shows a crossover-sized SUV with a distinctly Dodge grille. Is this the perennially-rumored Dodge Hornet? Here’s how the supposed Hornet got its name.

The Dodge Super Bee

Rear quarter of a green muscle car at a car show with a prominent "Super Bee" decal inside a racing stripe.
1969 Dodge Super Bee | TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

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The first popular hornet was the NASCAR-dominating Hudson Hornet. The Hudson company debuted this early muscle car in 1951. Hudson continued producing it through its merger with the American Motor Company (AMC) until 1957.

In 1968 the Chrysler corporation rolled out a new badge across several brands: the scat pack. Every muscle car that could run the ¼-mile in under 14 seconds was considered part of the Dodge Scat Pack

Was the name supposed to be reminiscent of Sinatra’s “rat pack?” Did Dodge mean “get out of here” or did the company know “scat” has less polite meanings? We’ll never know. What’s important is that the Scat Pack’s logo was, and continues to be, a bumblebee.

Also in 1968, the Plymouth Road Runner sales were so strong, Chrysler Corporation decided to re-body the “B-Body” sized car as an entry-level Dodge muscle car. Designer Harvey J. Winn suggested the name Super Bee, with a similar bumblebee medallion. Company brass thought the name worked well with the Scat Pack badge and gave it the green light.

Dodge continued building the Super Bee until 1970. The company has resurrected the Scat Pack name and bumblebee badge for all Chargers and Challengers with its largest, 6.4-liter HEMI V8. Dodge also rolled out a limited Charger SRT8 Super Bee in 2012.

The first Dodge Hornet

Prototype of a Dodge Hornet crossover car prototype parked on the stage at an auto show with a model leaning on the hood.
2006 Dodge Hornet prototype | Lionel FLUSIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

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In 1987, Chrysler corporation bought AMC for its Jeep brand. But along with Jeep came the Hornet name. It seems they tucked the trademark into a filing cabinet in Detroit and forgot about it for a couple decades.

By 2006, the Chrysler Corporation was part of the DaimlerChrysler multinational. The company wanted to appeal to the European youth market with a European-style car that had a classic name. What did they come up with? A re-bodied Nissan Versa named the Dodge Hornet.

Whatever folks may have thought of the little hatchback, the name was perfect. It was reminiscent of the Hudson Hornet. It also called on Dodge’s long Scat Pack and Super Bee traditions.

The company planned to introduce the 2006 Dodge Hornet prototype to the European market for the 2010 model year. But after the 2009 financial crisis, Chrysler had to set its sights on regaining the North American market.

The Dodge Hornet name survived past the Nissan-based vehicle. After Chrysler’s merger with Fiat, the new company began looking at small Dodge cars. The project bumped from the Fiat 199 platform to the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. But the entire time its rumored name was the Dodge Hornet. Industry analysts were shocked when Dodge unveiled the final product in 2012 with the name Dodge Dart.

The 2023 Dodge Hornet

Promo shot of a blue Alfa Romeo Tonale or Dodge Hornet crossover SUV in front of a gray brick wall.
Alfa Romeo Tonale | Stellantis

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In early February 2022 Alfa Romeo unveiled the all-new Tonale. The sporty crossover SUV is sure to be a winner with both a traditional hybrid and 256 horsepower plug-in hybrid version. The Alfa Romeo Tonale even shares a platform with the Jeep Compass.

But what we’re interested in is a leaked video of the Alfa Romeo factory floor. The video, uploaded to Facebook and then deleted, showed a red Tonale with what appears to be a Dodge grille. Check out the screenshots below:

At the same time, Dodge has just re-upped the Dodge Hornet patent. Will the Hornet be an AWD plug-in hybrid, eMuscle SUV that makes 256 horsepower? Or is it another bait-and-switch like the 2012 Dodge Dart? We’ll just have to wait and find out.

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