Back from the brink, Chrysler makes a 640 hp statement of intent.
As far as Chrysler’s bottom-line goes, the all new SRT Viper (no longer the Dodge Viper) will make little impact, but that’s not why Dodge brought the original Viper to production in 1992 and it’s certainly not why they’re doing again 20 years later. The Viper is the quintessential halo car. Rarer than a Corvette and predating the Ford GT by well over a decade, the Viper is a point of pride for an embattled company that has always found itself lagging behind its big three rivals.
"Beyond being the flagship for the new SRT brand,” says SRT President and CEO Ralph Gilles, “the launch of the 2013 Viper proves that we simply would not let the performance icon of the Chrysler Group die. Willed to live on by a very special group of performance enthusiasts inside the company and across Viper Nation, this SRT team under our new leadership was challenged to not just continue the legendary Viper, but to create a world-class supercar that would showcase the very best we have to offer."
The Viper’s trump card has always been its massive V10 and the 2013 model will be no different. The all aluminum V10 displaces 8.4 liters and produces 640 hp. SRT claims that its torque figure of 600 pound feet is the most of any normally aspirated production car in the world.
The primary criticism leveled at previous Vipers has always been a lack of refinement - both in the cabin and in overall drive quality. This is a perception the engineers at SRT are keen to change.
SRT promises that this Viper will deliver a more premium and mature take on the traditional Viper formula without sacrificing overall performance. This means high tech, high quality materials in the cabin and under the skin.
The chassis is 50% more torsionally rigid than the outgoing car, thanks in part to what SRT calls an “X” brace mounted over the engine. Speaking of that massive lump, it’s mounted behind the front wheels meaning it’s technically a mid-engine car, which should make for good weight distribution.
It was also announced that the Viper’s new racing program will be launching in the very near future. The Viper will contest the American Le Mans Series’ highly competitive GTE class where it will battle a field currently consisting of Corvette, Ferrari, Porsche, BMW and others. It was not confirmed which round would be their first, but it was promised that it would be by the end of the season.