Sadly, Dodge announced that the Viper will die this year. An American supercar that was first revealed as a concept at the 1989 North American International Auto Show. This is its obituary.
For 25 years the Viper has been an iconic American supercar. Sure, it has had its competition: the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford GT, Saleen S7, and John Hennessey’s Venom GT. To me, the Viper stands out among all of its fellow American supercars with its long front end housing the monstrous V-10, its beautiful, functional aerodynamics, its demonizing appearance and its aggressive stance.
The Viper was conceived in 1988 at Chrysler’s Advanced Design Studios and was later revealed at the 1989 NAIAS as a concept. Eighty-five hand-picked engineers were selected in 1989 to be “Team Viper” in order to create the infamous V-10, which was ready in 1990. The first retail shipments of the first generation Viper were ready in January of 1992. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the generations of this American icon.
Phase SR I (1992-1995)
The first prototype of the Viper was tested in 1991 and was used as the official pace car for the Indianapolis 500, driven by the legendary automaker, Carroll Shelby. The first engine found in the Viper was an 8.0 L V-10. Lamborghini, owned by Chrysler at the time, helped design the original V-10 found in the Viper. The V-10 produced 400 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. The first Viper hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and the 1/4 mile in 12.9 seconds at 113.8 mph. Its top speed was 165 mph. Cars with under 400 horsepower in the early 90s: 1994 Porsche 911 Turbo, 1991 Ferrari Testarossa, and 1993 Toyota Supra.
Phase SR II (1996-2002)
The second generation Viper introduced the roadster along with the coupe and had two models, the Viper RT/10 and the Viper GTS. The second generation stayed with the 8.0 L V-10 which now produced 415 horsepower in the RT/10 and 450 horsepower in the GTS. The GTS hit 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and the 1/4 mile in 12.2 seconds at 119 mph. Its top speed was 185 mph. In 1999, Dodge introduced the first ACR package. In the ACR, the air intake was upgraded, it had no A/C or radio, and the suspension was adjustable. ACR stands for “American Club Racer”, a Viper meant for the racetrack.
Phase ZB I (2003-2007)
In 2003, the Viper went through a major redesign. The initial model was a roadster with an 8.3 L V-10 which increased power to 500 horsepower and 525 lb-ft of torque. It hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and the 1/4 mile in 11.77 seconds at 123.68 mph. Its top speed was 189.5 mph. In 2005, at the Detroit Auto Show, Daimler Chrysler introduced the Sreet and Racing Technology (SRT) Viper, the SRT-10 Coupe, which had 510 horsepower and 535 lb-ft of torque. The SRT-10 hit 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and the 1/4 mile in 11.77 seconds at 123.68 mph. Its top speed was 192.6 mph. The Viper kept getting faster and faster.
Phase ZB II (2008-2010)
With the new stage of the Viper, Dodge introduced a new and improved 8.4 L V-10 which produced 600 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 560 lb-ft of torque at 4600 rpm. The new V-10 was developed with assistance from McLaren Automotive and Ricardo Consulting Engineers. The 2008 base-model hit 60 mph in 3.79 seconds and the 1/4 mile in 10.92 seconds at 129.79 mph. Its top speed was 202 mph. Stage ZB II also introduced Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires on the Viper and increased handling. On Nov. 4, 2009, Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles announced that the Viper would end production in summer of 2010. In 2013, the Viper would make its comeback.
Phase VX (2013-2017): The Final Stage
Two years after Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles announced that the Viper would end production in 2010, the 2013 Viper was unveiled at the 2012 New York Auto Show. An all-aluminum 8.4 L V-10 was announced making 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque. The 2013 Viper sits on Pirelli P Zero Z-Rated tires and has 4-piston Brembo brakes with fixed-aluminum calipers with vented 355x32mm diameter rotors. The body is made of carbon fiber and aluminum. There are two main models in this stage, the SRT and the premium model GTS, which has more luxurious additions. the SRT Viper hits 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 208 mph.
2016 Viper ACR: The Track Serpent
With an 8.4 L V-10 and 645 horsepower, the 2016 Viper ACR is a beast made for destroying its opponents on the racetrack. The 2016 ACR is equipped with the ACR extreme aero package, which produces 1 ton of peak downforce at top speed (177 mph). Yes, the 2016 ACR is the slowest Viper, but it’s the fastest around a racetrack.
Features of the 2016 ACR include adjustable dual-element carbon fiber rear wing (this thing’s massive), rear carbon fiber diffusers, detachable front splitters, and Kumho Ecsta V720 high-performance tires designed specifically for the 2016 ACR. The suspension, aero package, and special tires combine to deliver 1.5 G cornering on the track.
Sadly, in October 2015, Fiat Chrysler announced that the Viper would end production in 2017 because of decreased sales. We have to say goodbye to this iconic American supercar. But hopefully, the Viper will make a comeback, like it did in 2013. Maybe with a 707 horsepower Viper Hellcat? Yes, please.