– The Dodge Viper has always been more than just a car. To enthusiasts, it
represents the purest expression of free-spirited driving. For a re-emerging
Chrysler Corporation, it heralded a new way of doing business, taking chances
and stepping over the edge. To the industry, it served as a wake-up call that
the Dodge brand would be the catalyst for change in automotive design
throughout the 1990s.
its iconic imagery, the Dodge Viper has backed up its reputation with cold,
hard numbers – horsepower, torque, 0-60 mph, 1/4-mile, slalom, skid pad and top
speed. Unlike the pseudo-sports cars that pop up every year or so from other
car makers, at Dodge, slick copy has never been a replacement for raw
when it came to write the third chapter in the remarkable story of America’s
only true supercar, Dodge once again defied convention and built the all-new
2003 Viper lighter, faster and more powerful than ever. This chapter’s subhead
echoes the enthusiast mantra: “There’s no replacement for cubic displacement.”
we introduced the first Viper, we set the principles that would forever define
the car – obscene performance, outrageous design and ultimate driver
enjoyment," said Jim Julow, Vice President, Dodge Global Brand Center,
DaimlerChrysler Corporation. “With this next chapter, we’ve stayed true to
those principles in creating the next version of the ultimate American sports
next chapter of Viper takes extreme performance further than Dodge has ever
taken it before, reaching a Holy Grail of sorts for those worshiping the
religion of extreme automotive performance. The Dodge Viper will become the
only production car in the world to develop at least 500 horsepower, 500
lb.-ft. of torque and feature an engine with more than 500 cubic inches of
you want to increase the capability of a high-performance car, there are three
basic areas you can change: increase the power, reduce the weight or improve
handling,” said Larry Lyons, Vice President, Small Car Platform Engineering,
DaimlerChrysler. “For the new Viper, we did all three.”
Viper once again underscores the core philosophies of the Dodge brand by being
the ultimate automotive icon for extreme performance and extreme attitude.
back the big blocks!
performance upgrades that will increase its displacement from 488 to 505 cu.
in. and push its V-10 power output to a whopping 500 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft.
of torque, Viper has no equal on the road.
8.3-liter all-aluminum big-block engine drives huge 19-inch rear wheels and
anchors a performance package that eschews technical gimmickry in favor of
traditional engineering virtues. The spirit of America’s muscle cars lives
within the Dodge Viper.
creating the next chapter of Dodge Viper, the mission was to enhance its
unfiltered blend of performance. Viper retains a traditional front-engine,
rear-wheel drive layout with six-speed manual transmission. The commitment was
made early on to use a racing-style chassis including fully independent
four-wheel suspension, huge tires and wheels for maximum grip and massive
brakes for stopping power.
new version of the Viper’s four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system, originally
introduced for the 2001 model year, will be enhanced on this next-generation
BODY BY DODGE
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 RT-10
convertible packs an outrageous new design into a low-slung roadster shell.
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 full-length undertray add functional performance
visceral lines speak volumes for 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.
INTERIOR FITS DRIVERS LIKE A GLOVE
next chapter of Dodge Viper continues to set the definition of “extreme,” yet
features greater levels of refinement and finish.
retains its essence – its “Viperness” – while taking natural steps forward. A
race-derived two-seat cockpit looks over a highly functional instrument panel
with center-mounted tachometer and a 220 mile-per-hour speedometer, giving a
clue as to the production car’s top-speed potential. A push-button starter
refires old-time sports car memories.
no mistaking that the driver is in command at Viper’s helm. Viper is the
automotive equivalent of a jet fighter, and at the pilot’s command, launches
off the line like a Hornet from a carrier catapult.
VIPER REDEFINES THE CONVERTIBLE
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 an all-new GTS Coupe joined the Roadster for 1996, and added
classic gran tourismo styling to match the car’s prodigious performance
new Viper’s bi-fold clam shell top with single center latch now makes it a true
convertible, and harks back to a time when sports cars delivered serious
performance capabilities and stood for untamed freedom.
TRUE TO THE MISSION
Viper set out five goals in creating the next generation car:
Viper’s standing as the ultimate American sports car
a true convertible version that provides better convenience yet retains the
original roadster feel
the original shape without losing its “outrageous design”
the benchmark for “unmatched performance”
the back-to-basics approach from the original Viper
its dramatic styling, 500/500/500 performance and racing pedigree, the Dodge
Viper is unlike any other car on the road and expresses a style and attitude
only Dodge could deliver,” Julow said. “Viper has earned the title of Ultimate
American Sports Car.”
Dodge Viper will go on sale in August 2002 as a 2003 model. It will be built at
DaimlerChrysler’s Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit, Michigan.
— A short
but amazing history
– For every generation there is one automobile which completely captures the
imagination of driving enthusiasts, transforming the idea of transportation
into the ideal of art.
like Cunningham, Allard, Cobra and Testa Rossa come to mind – cars which
combined blinding performance with exceptional form.
its debut as a concept vehicle early in 1989, the Dodge Viper earned the
reputation of the quintessential American sports car. Big-blocked, attention
grabbing, fast, loud, untamed and uncompromising, the Viper stands out as a
modern standard-bearer for pure American heritage and tradition.
all began as a tiny spark in the minds of a few dedicated car enthusiasts at
the former Chrysler Corporation, and quickly flamed into the shared passion of
a group of like-minded individuals which came to be known as Team Viper.
in the minds of Team Viper's first members was the idea that a truly legendary
automobile could only be created by eliminating virtually all extraneous
most important thing was to move one or two persons as quickly as possible and
with as much raw performance as the driver could draw from a powerful engine
and a responsive chassis.
specific performance benchmark was to accelerate from zero to 100 mph and to
decelerate to zero again in less than 15 seconds. (Officially achieved with a
United States Auto Club-sanctioned 0-100-0 run of 14.78 seconds in 1993.)
believed Viper’s body should recapture the essence of classic sports car design
in a truly modern idiom. It had to tightly encompass a hardware package that
would include huge tires and wheels, a powerful V-10 engine and a simple, yet
spacious two-seat interior.
the benchmarks: the Cunningham, a limited-production Chrysler Hemi®-powered
race car that successfully competed head-to-head with the cream of Europe’s
celebrated marques in the early 1950s.
STAR OF THE SHOW
these ideas in mind, a one-of-a-kind Viper RT/10 show car was designed and
engineered at Chrysler Corporation's Advanced Styling Studio. It first appeared
to the public on January 4, 1989 at the North American International Auto Show
in Detroit, with the goal of testing public reaction to the concept of a
back-to-basics, high-performance, limited-production sports car.
reaction was overwhelming to say the least. Orders began to flow in even before
the show was over. Chrysler Corporation immediately decided to determine the
production feasibility of transforming the crowd-pleasing Viper RT/10 show car
into a limited-production sports car in no more than three years.
the months that followed, Team Viper conducted numerous meetings with potential
suppliers, studied manufacturing techniques and analyzed various engineering
approaches that would allow them to produce this unique roadster within a set
timeframe and budget.
May of 1990, the months of intensive study and testing culminated in the
announcement by Chrysler Corporation that the V-10-powered Viper was a ”go.“
Now it became a matter of people utilizing computers and car-building smarts to
find and develop the most efficient ways of doing things. Initial production of
the Dodge Viper RT/10 was scheduled to begin in just 18 months.
the initial idea had been accepted, the decision was made to develop the Viper
RT/10 using a platform team concept. The result was an independent group which
existed within Chrysler Corporation, establishing its own mission and creating
its own supplier base.
team leader sifted through scores of volunteers – Chrysler engineers, designers
and managers – in search of a select few self-admitted car fanatics who would
do whatever was necessary to create and produce a very special high-performance
in its own highly secured area of a major corporate engineering center, Team
Viper began three years of intensive, often around-the-clock operations. Their
activities stretched from Italy – where the aluminum engine block was perfected
– to the race tracks at Nelson Ledges and Road Atlanta – where they fine-tuned
Viper RT/10's unique high-performance chassis and powertrain.
members worked closely with major automotive suppliers to develop unique
components for the Viper RT/10 which would not only withstand the tremendous
stresses associated with high-performance driving, but also enhance Viper's
considerable performance capabilities.
prototypes, or ”mules,“ were developed to study vehicle dynamics. Within a year
of Viper’s auto show appearance, a V-8-powered mule was being tested. A few
months later, a stablemate powered by a cast iron V-10 joined the test fleet.
May of 1990, after months of intensive study and testing, Chrysler Corporation
announced that the Viper, now powered by the aluminum V-10 was a ”go.“
May of 1991, the Viper RT/10 performed as the official Pace Car of the 75th
Indianapolis 500, further fanning the flames of public interest. Finally, in
December of 1991, the first red Viper RT/10 production cars rolled off the New
Mack Avenue assembly line – exactly three years after the concept car’s 1989
auto show triumph.
CONTINUING THE SUCCESS
January of 1992, a production version of the Dodge Viper was shown to the
public at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. In April that
year, a prototype was donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame
1993, black was offered as a second color option. ”Tonight Show“ host Jay Leno
bought the first one. Bright yellow and emerald green were added to the mix in
production moved in November 1995 to the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, where it
remains to this day.
RT/10 was joined by the Viper GTS in 1996. Introduced to the public at the 1994
Detroit Auto Show, it was selected to pace the 1996 Indianapolis 500, with
actual production beginning in that very same month – May.
the Dodge Viper RT/10, the Viper GTS Coupe teased enthusiast appetites well
before getting an official green light to build.
August 1995, Dodge displayed a blue with white striped GTS Coupe prototype at
the second annual Dodge Viper Owner Invitational in Monterey, Calif., and made
an exclusive offer to current owners – a voucher for the first GTS Coupes
produced. More than three-quarters of the 1996 calendar year production of
1,700 was instantly spoken for.
Roadster was designed for the aggressive, wind-in-the-hair driver. The GTS
Coupe was given the same capacity to exhilarate the senses, but in a more
refined manner. The goal was to do more than just add a roof to the Viper. The
goal was to create the GTS in the mold of the world’s premier Grand Touring
GTS was seen as catering to a broader customer base than the RT/10, including
professional people with an interest in performance cars as well as the pure
enthusiasts that identify with the Roadster.
wanted the Coupe to retain the agility of the Roadster in spite of added
amenities of a roof and roll-up windows. To get the Coupe weight down to that
of the original Roadster, the car went on a weight-reduction program.
the GTS and the RT/10 look much alike, more than 90 percent of the Coupe was
new. Every major part was subjected to scrutiny with telling effect: the GTS
with air conditioning weighed nearly 100 pounds less than the 1994 RT/10
changes, introduced on the 1996 Coupe and carried over to the Roadster, reduced
weight by 200 pounds. These included an all-aluminum suspension system and
re-engineered frame. Other weight reductions were distributed throughout the
car. For GTS, weight reduction was focused in the engine and cooling system
where more than 80 pounds were removed.
total of 14,000 Vipers now cruise the world’s boulevards and racetracks,
building a very strong and extremely enthusiastic owner core. Currently there
are more than 3,600 members of the Viper Club of America affiliated with 40
Viper Clubs throughout the world, 33 of which are in the United States.
are no other cars truly in the same class as the Dodge Viper GTS Coupe and
RT/10 Roadster. And regardless of which model comes to mind, Viper remains true
to its original mission: create the ultimate American sports car.