Car enthusiasts all over the world were saddened by the news from Chrysler announcing they would stop producing the Dodge Viper in 2018. They killed the mighty Detroit snake once before in 2010 but managed to resurrect it in 2012. This time, it looks like the end of the road for the legendary Viper, but most car fans hope Chrysler will bring back this iconic model in the future.
The story of the Dodge Viper is unique in the American car industry. Even today, car fans argue about what segment the Viper belongs in, after all. Is it a muscle car, a sports car or an exotic car? To be fair, it is all three. It has the muscle engine and philosophy behind it, as well as a muscle car heritage. Yet, it has the sports car looks and performance.
And since the Viper was always an expensive, limited production machine. And that puts it into the exotic car category. But whatever it was, it announced the return of American performance in a big way when they originally launched it in the early ’90s. As the brainchild of some of the most memorable characters in the car industry, the Viper was destined to be a success.
So, read on to go on a cruise through its colorful 26-history. Here is a showcase of the best and most interesting street and race models. Learn why they ruled the streets and then track through the Viper’s 26-year history.
1992 Dodge Viper RT/10
The original Viper in the early ’90s was what happens when talented individuals with a clear goal want to make the perfect car. Bob Lutz, then president of Chrysler Corporation; chief engineer, Francois Castaing; chief designer, Tom Gale and the legendary Carroll Shelby wanted a model to celebrate their success. However, it had to connect with those muscle cars from the ’60s and early ’70s.
Castaing, Lutz and Gale were fans of Shelby`s original Cobra, one of the most exciting American sports/muscle cars they ever built. But the team wanted a modern-day Cobra with more power, refinement and performance to show that the concept of a light, but immensely powerful roadster was still attractive. And thanks to their influence, the team gathered over 80 engineers and designers, officially launching Project Viper.
In 1989, they revealed the Dodge Viper Concept at the Detroit Motor Show. The crowd went crazy over its aggressive, yet elegant lines with a V10 engine. So, Lee Iacocca, Chrysler chairman, ordered the start of production. And the team rushed into building the car for its 1992 release and for pace car duty at the Indianapolis 500 races.
Under the hood was an 8.0-liter fully aluminum V10 delivering 400 HP and 465 lb-ft of torque. That was unheard of, so it secured the Viper`s place as one of the most powerful new models on the market. However, the design was like the other prototypes, but the long hood, short rear and roll bar made the Viper visually dramatic.
With a price tag of over $50,000, and 0 to 60 mph times of 4.6 seconds, the Viper beat many European exotic machines. Its performance established the Viper as one of the best-looking, fastest cars of the early ’90s. And thus, the legend of America`s deadliest snake began.