Conceived as a modern take on the classic American muscle car, the Dodge Viper is a two-seat sports car, possibly the most powerful production car produced by Dodge.
Production for the Viper began in 1992 at the new Mack Assembly in Detroit Michigan. The Mack Avenue Engine Complex was the original production site from 1992 through 1995.
Opening in 1966, the Conner Avenue Assembly was purchased by Chrysler in 1995 for the production of both the Dodge Viper and the Plymouth Prowler. October 1995 the production for the Viper began.
The home of Chryslers production of large-displacement V8 and V10 engines, Mount Road Engine was a Chrysler Corporation Automobile Engine factory in Detroit Michigan. In 2002 the plant was closed as production shifted to the Mack Avenue Engine Complex.
The dream behind the design of the Dodge Viper was directly inspired by Carroll Shelby, one of the automotive industries greatest legends. Building one more ultimate performance car was the vision of the initial designer of the Viper. Far too large and heavy to seriously claim any direct lineage with other compact and lightweight vehicles such as the ionic AC Cobra, the Viper was an altogether separate design.
Driven as the pace car at the Indianapolis 500, Carroll Shelby had a long career as a driver, owner, team manager, manufacturer, consultant, and visionary before being inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1992. More than a decade later, he has continued to impact the world of racing and automobile design. A master organizer and team leader, his charisma, vision and ability to know the best person for the job developed his ability to produce consistently impressive results.
Initially conceived in late 1987 at Chrysler's Advanced Design Studios, the Viper first appeared as a concept to test public reaction at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 4, 1989. Receiving enthusiastic public acclaim as orders began to flow before the show even ended, the 'go' was given and chief engineer Roy Sjoberg was directed to develop it as a production car.
'Team Viper' was organized by Sjoberg with a handpicked group of 85 engineers that began development in March of 1989. Their primary goal was to construct a vehicle that concentrated on performance above all else. Their benchmark: to go from 0 to 100 back to 0 in 15 seconds.
Three years of intensive, often around-the-clock operations were began by Team Viper that stretched from Italy, where the aluminum engine block was perfected -- to the race tracks at Nelson Ledges and Road Atlanta, where they fine-tuned the chassis and powertrain. Working closely with major automotive suppliers to develop unique components for Viper RT/10, team members searched for only what would withstand the tremendous stresses associated with high-performance driving.
The first prototype was tested in December of 1989.
At the time Lamborghini (a Chrysler subsidiary) was asked to adapt their V10 truck engine for sports car use in May. The centerpiece of the car was its engine. The original design was based on the Chrysler LA engine, Lamborghini, was designed as a truck engine. Recasting the block and head in aluminum alloy gave the engine a significant power boost as Dodge's cast-iron block V10 was revamped.
Completing the production body in the fall, by December a chassis prototype was running. Originally using a V8 in the test mule, by February 1990, the V10 which was the production car was meant to use was ready.
A more comprehensive design was suggested that would included four valves per cylinder as some felt the pushrod two-valve design may have been adequate for the truck application but unsuitable for a performance car.
The budget for modification was not approved by Chrysler due to uncertainty regarding Viper's production costs and sales potential.
By May of 1990, official approval was granted from Chrysler chairman, Lee Iacocca. It was one year later that Carroll Shelby piloted a preproduction car as the Indianapolis 500 pace car. First shipment began in January 1992 as the car was released to reviewers during the debut November 1991.
Initially predetermined to be two things to the corporation, the public version of the Viper was intended as a halo car for Chrysler proving that they were still the most competent at building a low cost vehicle of any type. Within the corporation, the Viper was a production technique test to see if the corporation really could develop new methods of manufacture and assembly to lower the cost of a vehicle.
Though 1st generation Vipers were considered by some as a crude 'kit car', Chrysler translated this into a vehicle and production line that became the most sought after assignment in the corporation up to that point.
Typical of American performance car design, the Viper had a front-mounted engine driving rear wheels with a curb weight of 3,280lb(1,488 kg) while lacking many modern driving aids such as traction control or anti-lock brakes. In a straight line performance, the Viper completed a quarter mile in 12.9 seconds and had a maximum speed of 164 mph (264 km/h).
The engine produced 400 hp (298 kW) at 4600 rpm and 450 ft·lbf (610 N·m) of torque at 3600 rpm. Due to the long-gearing allowed by the torquey engine it provided surprising fuel economy at a claimed 21 mpg US (11.2 L/100 km) if driven sedately. The body of the Viper was a tubular steel frame with resin transfer molding (RTM) fiberglass panels.
By 1998, 9,500 Vipers cruised the world's boulevards and racetracks, building a very strong and extremely enthusiastic owner core. Currently there are more than 1,700 members of the Viper Club of America and 27 Viper Clubs throughout the United States.By Jessica Donaldson
Since its introduction as a concept car at the 1989 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Dodge Viper has captured the hearts and imagination of enthusiasts around the globe. It has also captured its share of trophies on the track as a three-time FIA GT2 and Le Mans class champion.
The next chapter of Dodge Viper continues to set the definition of extreme, yet features greater levels of refinement and finish. In other words, Viper retains its essence - its 'Viperness' - while taking natural steps forward.
Those who have never driven or ridden in a Dodge Viper can scarcely understand the way the car translates torque into forward momentum, nor can they fully appreciate the turning and braking capabilities of its massive tires and disc brakes.
The new Viper SRT-10 takes that unbelievable rush of performance to an entirely new level - beyond even that of the current American performance car standard. If one ride doesn't thrill, exhilarate, energize or excite you more than any other car on the road, check your pulse.Convertible Top Opens the Possibilities for New Redesign
Engineers at Dodge, who had grown fond of their RT/10 Roadster and GTS Coupe and proud of the cars' performance capabilities, were fully aware of the wide tiretracks they would have to fill when the decision was made to create a new, true convertible version of America's ultimate sports car.
What began as a simple plan to alter the RT/10's roofline quickly grew to a 'blue-sky' redesign when designers and engineers discovered that the accompanying 2.6-inch lengthening of the wheelbase would change more than 50 percent of the car's body panels and many chassis components. Vehicle synthesis engineers, never ones to sit idly by, set to work immediately using the stretch as their opportunity to find incremental ways to update and improve the car. And quicker than you can say 'hasta la vista,' the teams found out that with a little bit of tweaking here and an upgraded assembly there, they would have an entirely new car to build.
While the Chrysler Group's famously creative design office staged an internal search for the best new Viper design sketch, performance-minded engineers at then Team Viper began to analyze the opportunities that a redesign could offer on the performance front.
About the same time, combined marketing, engineering and communications teams from Dodge began polling key constituencies on what the next Viper should be - and as important, what it shouldn't be.
Among one of the most vocal and enthusiastic opinion groups - the owners AKA Dodge's Viper Nation - the replies consistently demanded...
- More horsepower
- Bigger brakes
- Lighter weight
- A new convertible top mechanism
- A dead pedal
- Greater interior comfort
Owners were also asked what they didn't want:
- Digital instrumentation
- Cruise control
- Cup holders
- A 'bow-tie' lookalike
It was universally agreed that no matter the degree of change, certain Viper attributes - the car's legacy and signature to the world - must remain.
The message was loud and clear - Viper must be a front-engined, two-seat, rear-wheel-drive sports car. It must have a V-10 making at least as much power as the current 450 hp versions. That a six-speed manual transmission be the only choice. That it be devoid of cupholders, cruise control and traction control. Viper would be a driver's package, and never a luxury boat posing as a sports car.
Viper Remains True to the Original Mission
Dodge took its directives and built a mission statement for the new car. When Dodge laid out the mission for its new 2003 Viper SRT-10 Convertible, it started with five vision statements:
- Build a true convertible version of the original Dodge Viper RT/10 Roadster
- Refine the original caricature without losing its outrageous design
- Raise the benchmark for unmatched performance
- Maintain the back-to-basics approach from the original Viper
- Preserve the American sports car heritage
The 2003 Viper SRT-10 once again underscores the core philosophies of the Dodge brand by being the ultimate automotive icon for extreme performance and extreme attitude.
'Back in 1992, the purpose was to re-orient what the Dodge brand was all about,' said Jim Julow, Vice President - Dodge Motorsports and SRT Marketing. 'We had just come out of a lot of years without any significant performance-oriented products. We needed to send a message that we had a new concept - a very historically accurate concept - but one which had not been seen in America for a long time. We wanted to come up with something that was so outrageous, so cutting edge, so purpose built that it said we still had a lot of car nuts around here; people with the know-how to put the most outrageous street car ever on the road.
'The continuation of the Viper allows us to hatch a whole new line of performance cars that go across more vehicle types than just two-door roadsters,' continued Julow. 'This whole SRT line of vehicles will aspire to be the Viper of their category.'Improving on a Legend
In creating the next chapter of Dodge Viper, the goal was also to enhance its unfiltered blend of performance.
As part of the Dodge Viper's complete redesign, more than 100 changes and improvements have been made to the chassis, brakes, suspension, tires, engine, transmission, cockpit, electronics and more than a dozen body panels.
Yet Viper retains a traditional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout with a six-speed manual transmission. The commitment was made early on to use a racing-style chassis including fully independent four-wheel suspension, wide tires and wheels for maximum grip and massive brakes for stopping power.
A race-derived two-seat cockpit looks over a highly functional instrument panel with center-mounted tachometer and a 220 mile-per-hour speedometer. A traditional push-button starter reinforces the purposeful layout and race-car inspirations.
A new version of the Viper's four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system, originally introduced for the 2001 model year, is enhanced for this next-generation car.
With a new bored and stroked aluminum engine block that increases the Viper's displacement from 488 to 505 cu. in. and pushes its V-10 power output to 500 horsepower and 525 lb.-ft. of torque, Viper has no equal on the road.
'For a brand like Dodge, maintaining best-in-class performance claims are absolutely the most important thing we can do,' said Julow. 'As a brand, we must differentiate ourselves based on performance and drivability in creating a true enthusiast car. We need these proof points because frankly, not everyone wants to have a 500-horsepower, two-door convertible. Not everyone necessarily wants to have a turbocharged, manual transmission small car. Not everybody's looking for an aluminum block full-size truck.
But they're looking for a brand that's willing to put a little bit extra into everything it builds, and the proof points for that are the SRT (Street and Racing Technology) line, which pushes the envelope as far as we can.'On the Outside
With styling cues derived from the Dodge Viper GTS/R concept car first shown at the 2000 North American International Auto Show, the all-new 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10 convertible packs an outrageous new design into a low-slung roadster shell.
Lowered hood lines, swept-back fenders and deep-cut side scallops take their cues from the classic original, yet bring the Viper into the 21st century. Improved aerodynamics and a partial undertray add functional performance enhancements.
Viper's visceral lines speak volumes of the passion that Dodge designers bring to their craft. The new Viper gives enthusiasts an American sports car that remains true to the credo of pure performance.
The new Viper has a new roofline profile with an easy-to-operate drop top. The Dodge Viper was initially introduced with a full-width sport bar that brought open-air motoring to the Dodge lineup. The second chapter of Viper history was written when the GTS Coupe was added in 1996, and added classic gran tourismo styling to match the car's prodigious performance capabilities.
The new Viper's bi-fold clamshell top with single center latch now makes it a true convertible, harking back to a time when sports cars delivered serious performance capabilities and stood for untamed freedom.
For drivers seeking the farthest edge of the performance envelope, Viper remains nothing less than a streetable supercar - sophisticated yet brutal.Source - DaimlerChrysler