2013 Viper tagged an SRT, packs more power
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The reworked Viper will have more power, less weight, Ferrari seats and a back-lit fanged snake on the car's badge.
Chrysler Group today revealed the high-performance two-seater that will launch later this year with a new brand, SRT.
The 2013 SRT Viper will get a more powerful version of Chrysler's top engine: a 640-hp, 8.4-liter V-10 that generates 600 pounds-feet of torque. The new engine has 40 more horsepower than the one in the previous Viper, which was branded as a Dodge and discontinued in 2010.
"We've been very conscious of what the Viper's all about," said Ralph Gilles, who is head of Chrysler's SRT brand and in charge of design for Chrysler Group. Gilles revealed the car today at the New York auto show.
100 pounds lighter
The reworked Viper will come with a six-speed manual transmission. Weight has been reduced by about 100 pounds from the previous Viper, to about 3,320 pounds.
In design, the new Viper is reminiscent of the two-seater's 1996 second-generation model. Updates include front and rear LED lighting and a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic hood, roof and deck lid.
The Viper also has electronic stability control and a 8.4-inch information screen that also appears in Chrysler's flagship 300 sedan. The Viper's information screen will allow drivers to chart lap times.
In an interview with Automotive News, Gilles said the Viper's weight and powertrain "were an obsession" for the vehicle's team. The new engine accounted for 28 pounds of the 100-pound weight reduction.
The Viper's emblems, front and back, were redesigned. The new snake will be back-lit on the tail.
"I have 26 people waiting for the car already," said Bernie Katz, of Tomball Dodge in Tomball, Texas, a large seller of Vipers.
The dealership operates a Web site, www.viperexchange.com, focused solely on selling the high-end performance coupes. He said he still has 10 unsold 2010 Dodge Vipers in stock that were ordered to maintain inventory during the car's production hiatus.
Katz said Chrysler officials solicited advice from Viper dealers about the 2013 Viper. He said having the car under an SRT brand will help differentiate it from Dodge vehicles and strengthen its marketing against competitors such as Porsche and Lamborghini.
"I think it's going to make a world of difference for branding to separate [Viper from Dodge] a little bit," Katz said.
No lost DNA
Some Viper enthusiasts had worried that the Viper might lose some of its American DNA after Chrysler's takeover by Ferrari owner Fiat S.p.A. But Gilles said that while he did consult with Ferrari and Maserati on working with low-volume suppliers, "the only real part that we use a common supplier for is the seats."
Pricing for the two-seater was not revealed. Gilles said it will be available in three trim packages: a core model Viper, a maxed-out Viper S version and a racing version, called a "track pack," that sheds an additional 57 pounds.
"We're going to respect where we come from. We'll be careful of how we price," Gilles said. The previous hardtop Viper's price was just under $100,000, including the gas guzzler tax and freight.
Like its predecessor, each SRT Viper will be assembled at Chrysler's Conner Avenue assembly plant in Detroit. About 150 hourly and salaried workers have been preparing the small plant for several months in anticipation the start of production this fall.
You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at email@example.com.