By on February 8, 2017

1997 Dodge Copperhead Concept/Ram 1500 Copper Sport - Images: FCA

As we reported in the middle of the night, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will show two new Ram special edition pickup trucks at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show this week.

One truck brings the 1500 Night package to the 2500 Heavy Duty. The other is the Ram’s 1500 Copper Sport.

Or is it?

Hours after the embargo lifted and Matthew Guy’s story went live on TTAC, we received a press release from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada’s PR department. Our eagle-eyed managing editor, Mark Stevenson, noticed something peculiar.

“New Limited Edition 2017 Ram 1500 Copperhead Sport Launched,” FCA Canada announced.

And why won’t the Copperhead Sport be the Copperhead Sport in the United States?

Don’t blame Steve Earle. Blame ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons.

After Mr. Stevenson noted the seemingly unnecessary four-letter addition to the Copper Sport’s Canadian name, TTAC’s newest historian-in-chief, Steph Willems, recalled Dodge’s use of the Copperhead nameplate in the past.

At Detroit’s 1997 North American International Auto Show, during the DaimlerChrysler era, the Copperhead Concept “was conceived as a sort of Viper lite, –a convertible two-seater offering the handling and open-air fun of Dodge’’s brutish V10 sports car, but with a V6 engine and a practical price,” according to Dodge’s official blog.

The Copperhead Concept was never brought to production, although Motor Trend quite optimistically thought the Copperhead, “might feel considerably like the new Jaguar XK8.”

In fact, the Copperhead name died, as well, and the Copperhead Concept became the self-explanatory Dodge Concept Vehicle. Not exactly Giulia Quadrifoglio levels of allure, but whatever.

DaimlerChrysler was forced to pull the Copperhead name off the 1997 show car because ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons already had a 1950 Ford called Kopperhead, referred to in some parts as the Kopperhed.

Two decades later, there are individuals at the former Chrysler Group who are evidently still in love with the Copperhead name. (It’s been used as a paint name on the 2005 Viper, 2012 Avenger, 2012 Grand Caravan, and 2013 Charger, if not more often.) Forget the sub-Viper sports car — the Viper’s dead, too. Why not stick the Copperhead name on a truck?

Except Ram can’t, at least not in the United States Of Freedom To Do Almost Whatever.

But when America knocks a designation down, label lovers head north, to the land of the Buick Allure and the Pontiac Wave and the Hyundai Santa Fe XL.

FCA Canada spokesperson Daniel Labre provided TTAC with confirmation this morning. “There is no Copperhead trademark registration in Canada, which is why FCA Canada is able to use the name in our market.”

But why does FCA Canada want to add head to copper? “”There really isn’t anything more to say [other] than we chose that name,” Labre told TTAC. “It’s a buzz model/special package so the Copperhead name will not be on the vehicle anywhere.”

Maybe a 62-year-old folk singer can explain why FCA Canada’s nomenclature administrators feel it’s necessary or desirable to use the full title when their U.S. counterparts must do without.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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21 Comments on “ZZ Top Is Ruining America(‘s Special Edition Ram Trucks)...”

  • avatar

    Head is usually much more simple than this.

  • avatar

    It’s ridiculous that they can’t use the name here. Who’s going to confuse a truck with a mildly customized Shoebox Ford? Also, the Ford’s name starts with a K.

    Why is the Kopperhead name trademarked, anyway? It doesn’t make sense unless Billy Gibbons was planning to build a run of the cars. Stupid.

  • avatar

    Maybe Billy doesn’t like Dodge’s?

  • avatar

    Yeah but how many of you have ever REALLY LISTENED to “Copperhead Road”?

    Somebody should write a screenplay inspired by that song. It would be much more interesting than most of the crap that Hollywood spits out in an average year.

  • avatar

    How long do name copy rights last anyway?

    • 0 avatar

      Never Mind
      “A U.S. utility patent, explained above, is generally granted for 20 years from the date the patent application is filed; however, periodic fees are required to maintain the enforceability of the patent. A design patent is generally granted protection for 14 years measured from the date the design patent is granted.

      A U.S. trademark generally lasts as long as the trademark is used in commerce and defended against infringement.

      Copyright protection is for a limited term. For works created after January 1, 1978, copyrights last for 70 years after the death of the author. For works “made for hire” (covering the usual type of work owned by a small business), the copyright lasts for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For more detailed explanation of copyright terms, visit the Copyright Office webpage or consult this guide on Duration of Copyright provided by the Copyright Office.

      A trade secret can be protected indefinitely as long as the secret is commercially valuable, its value derives from the fact that it is secret, and the owner take reasonable precautions to maintain its secrecy.”

      • 0 avatar

        The problem is that “copperhead” can refer to a venomous snake, a Northerner who opposed Lincoln’s prosecution of the Civil War, several Marvel Comics characters, a hero of a 1930s movie serial, a rock band from the 1970s, a guided artillery shell, and two civil war themed movies, and a horror movie. If Chrysler, Daimler-Chrysler, or FCA ever wanted to use the name, they needed only to hire competent lawyers to put a huge hole through any copyright claim.

  • avatar

    Folk singer? Somebody needs some Tres Hombres.

  • avatar

    I like that Dodge has Copper as one of their official non official colors. Its different and goes well with the Dodge brand. If I had this truck I’d just order the badges or stickers from Canada.

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