Viper: More roar, less weight
Photo credit: RENATO ZACCHIA
The 2013 Viper, Chrysler Group's fastest-ever production vehicle at 206 mph, will arrive in dealerships late this year with a more powerful version of its former engine.
Chrysler unveiled the high-performance two-seater last week at the New York auto show with a new brand badge -- SRT -- and a back-lit snake emblem above the rear license plate.
The 2013 SRT Viper will have a more powerful version of Chrysler's biggest engine: a 640-hp, 8.4-liter V-10 that generates 600 pounds-feet of torque. The revised engine has 40 more hp 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.
The reworked Viper will be available only with a six-speed manual transmission. At 3,320 pounds, it's about 100 pounds lighter than the previous Viper.
The Viper also has electronic stability control and the 8.4-inch information screen used in Chrysler's flagship 300 sedan. The Viper's information screen will allow drivers to chart lap times.
In an interview, Gilles said the Viper's weight and powertrain "were an obsession" for the vehicle's team.
Dealer Bernie Katz, of Tomball Dodge in Tomball, Texas, said, "I have 26 people waiting for the car already." The dealership operates a Web site, viperexchange.com, to sell the performance coupe.
Some enthusiasts had worried that the Viper might lose some of its American DNA after Chrysler's 2009 takeover by Fiat S.p.A., owner of Ferrari. 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."
The Viper's seats are supplied by Sabelt, a unit of Brembo Group, the brake specialist.
Gilles said it will be available in three trim packages: base, up-level S and a racing version, which sheds an additional 57 pounds.
Sticker prices were not revealed. The previous hardtop Viper's price was just under $100,000, including the gas guzzler tax and freight.
"We're going to respect where we come from. We'll be careful of how we price," Gilles said.
Like its predecessor, the 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 production this fall.
From 1991 until production ended in 2009, Chrysler built 27,708 Vipers.
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