Instantly creating a stir when it was initially released in 1991 the Dodge Viper took the muscle car concept to the limit, along the way becoming one of those cars people either loved or hated, the Viper was a very polarising model.
As Mark Twain once said ‘the rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated”, the same could be said for the Viper. After a temporary halt to production, since 2010, to allow for a fully redesigned 2013 model the Viper is back, ready to make it’s international debut at the New York Motor Show this week.
The new models have been re-designed from the ground up. First discussed in 2010 the 2013 Viper will be designed to make it accessible to as many people as possible. All Vipers produced to date have been described as drivers cars, with no driver aids and aggressive handling that required razor sharp reactions previous Vipers required taming. At the Chrysler 2010 dealer conference Chrysler Group and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne described the 2013 Viper design aiming to make the car more accessible to the average driver. To this end the new Viper will now include all of the modern driver aids and more forgiving steering and suspension settings. Electronically taming the beast.
The curvy European lines combined with the pure grunt of a big block engine could see this new Viper labelled the Shelby Cobra of the 21st century. Chrysler are introducing two new models of the brand new, fully redesigned 2013 SRT Viper that are sure to capture everyone’s attention.
While many news agencies reported that the Viper had been cancelled in 2010 the truth is production was simply put on hiatus until the new model design had been completed. Like a sitcom that is taken off the air for tweaking Chrysler simply hit the pause button on production. The factories are now back in production, the production lines at the Corner Avenue assembly plant are running at full speed once again, producing two new 2013 models, the SRT Viper and the SRT Viper GTS, with the GTS being a street legal track day car.
Designed from the ground up the new models ares far more than a slightly modified Viper. The 2013 Vipers will include an all-aluminum 8.4-liter V-10, mid mounted by pushing it as far back in the bonnet as possible,not by jamming it in the boot. The big block engine will deliver an estimated 640 horsepower and 600 lb.ft. of torque, the most torque of any naturally aspirated sports car engine in the world The chassis has been stiffened, improving chassis tension and twisting by 50%. Weight reduction has produced triple digit weight loss, 101kg.
Helping to tame the beast is the new electronic multistage stability control, traction control and new 4-channel anti-lock brake system (ABS). The interior has been completely redesigned, this time aiming for luxury instead of hill-billy basic. The body is now made of an all-new carbon-fiber and aluminum skin that has been sculpted for high-speed stability and a slipperiness, with a drag coefficient of .364 (Cd) it worked, that’s race car slick.
It looks like this new partnership between Chrysler and Fiat is starting to bare fruit, and they are some juicy apples. The SRT Viper combines the curves and design smarts of a European sports car with the raw brutal force of an American muscle car. Could the SRT Viper become the modern equivalent to the all-time classic Shelby Cobra.
The 2013 SRT Viper is making it’s debut at this weeks New York Motor Show, it certainly has the looks but will all of the new additions add up to handling improvements or will this be another American straight line drag car? With a top speed of 206mph the new Viper is aiming for the performance crown. To answer that question we will all have to wait to see how it handles, on both the road and track.