Dodge's Tim Kuniskis, Godfather of the Hellcat, Retires beside Beloved V-8s

detroit assembly plant manufactures flagship dodge viper
Tim Kuniskis, Hellcat V-8's Godfather, RetiresBill Pugliano - Getty Images
  • After 32 years with Chrysler, Tim Kuniskis is retiring from his position as the CEO of Dodge and Ram effective June 1.

  • After first being appointed the head of Dodge in 2011, Kuniskis helped steer the company toward V-8-powered muscle cars, shaping the brand's modern identity.

  • Chrysler CEO Christine Feuell will take the lead at Ram, while Matt McAlear—a current Dodge sales executive—will be appointed as that brand's new CEO.

Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis, also known as the godfather of the iconic Hellcat V-8, is retiring. Stellantis, Dodge's parent company, announced the move last Friday, with Kuniskis set to race into retirement at the end of the month. He spent 32 years with the company and in the last three was CEO of Dodge as well as Ram.

Despite his recent decisions nudging those brands toward electrification and the arrival of the new six-cylinder Charger, Kuniskis's legacy will be forever associated with the Hemi V-8. His first tenure as the CEO of Dodge started in 2011, five years after the Charger's revival. Kuniskis set to work immediately, steering the brand toward its performance and muscle-car roots, mining the brand's past for inspiration with numerous naming and styling themes.

new cars are revealed during dodge's speed week
Bill Pugliano - Getty Images

Kuniskis soon surpassed those efforts with the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, a 707-horsepower beast that set the stage for even more absurd levels of power to come. It also spawned the 702-hp Ram 1500 TRX and the Hellcat-powered Durango. As other automakers moved toward hybridization and electrification, Dodge and Ram held fast until Stellantis stepped in and forced his hand. Hence the recently revealed electric Charger Daytona, the electric Ram 1500 REV, and the plug-in-hybrid Ramcharger.


With last year's introduction of the 1025-hp Challenger Demon 170, Kuniskis made one more big splash before heading for what is sure to be a retirement filled with plenty of rumbling V-8s and smoky burnouts. We didn't know it at the time, but the outrageous street-legal dragster served as a final hurrah for both the Challenger and Kuniskis.

Chrylser CEO Christine Feuell will pull double duty and replace Kuniskis as Ram's CEO. Dodge sales executive Matt McAlear will move up the chain and take over as Dodge's CEO.

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