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Venom: 20 Interesting Dodge Viper Models

Vukasin HerbezNovember 7, 2018

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 1993 Dodge Viper RT/10

Chrysler built only 285 Vipers in 1992. And they were all almost pre-production examples since the car was a mid-year introduction. Also, the assembled it mostly by hand. So, 1993 was the first proper model year. They gave the car received several options, color choices and details.

Dodge left the basics unchanged. The Viper RT/10 was a crazy roadster with enormous power, torque and performance, which made it a true Shelby Cobra successor. And, in terms of driving excitement, it was one of the most dangerous cars you could buy. Unfortunately, the Viper didn’t have airbags, stability control systems or ABS. Also, it was kind of controllable on dry pavement but totally loose on wet surfaces.

However, all of that was a big part of its charm and allure. Owners, along with the motoring press, loved its untamed nature and aggressive feel. All Vipers were roadsters with a removable hardtop that drivers could store in the back. The interior was rugged with just the bare essentials, so those who wanted luxury needed to look elsewhere.

  1. 1996 Dodge Viper GTS

The original, roadster Viper was everyone’s favorite American sports car in the early ’90s. However, some serious enthusiasts demanded more in terms of refinement and comfort. So, in 1993, Dodge presented the Viper Coupe concept. After an extremely good reaction, the company decided to turn the concept into a regular production model.

And, in 1996, they presented the Viper GTS. But the GTS was much more than just a coupe Viper. In fact, more than 90 percent of its components were new or improved over the regular RT/10 model. Also, the car had better aerodynamics due to the fixed roof and rear spoiler.

Also, they upgraded its power, so the GTS delivered 450 HP. And that was 35 HP more than the 1995 roadster version. Although the 1996 Viper GTS had a significantly higher price, all 1,700 of them sold just a few days after Dodge’s announcement.

  1. 1996 Dodge Viper GTS-R

The resurrection of the American performance car scene in the ’90s brought many interesting road cars. But it also revived most car manufacturer`s racing efforts on an international scale. And one of the best and most successful racing models they produced in those days was the mighty Dodge Viper GTS-R. It debuted in 1995 and soon became one of the best GT racing cars in the world.

Nobody thought the Viper could become a sharp, nimble sports car since its road-going version was a burly muscle machine. Also, it came with an enormous V10 they stuffed in the front. But, race car engineers developed the GTS coupe into a sharp GTS-R racing car. And it could beat anything coming from Italy, Germany or England.

In its long racing career of over 10 years, the Dodge Viper GTS-R had over 160 victories in numerous international championships. It even had several class victories on the Le Mans circuit.

  1. 1997 Dodge Viper GT2 Road/Race Version

To continue with their participation on the FIA GT Championship series, Dodge needed to produce a limited run of GT2 spec road cars. So, in 1996, they released the Viper GT2 as a special model. It featured a big rear spoiler, white paint with blue racing stripes.

Also, it came with a 460 HP engine that was just a slightly upgraded standard unit. But, the Viper GT2 was a bit lighter than the standard model because it featured less interior equipment and racing details. So, the engine was more than enough to perform beautifully in the slimmer Viper.

  1. 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10

After 10 years, the time had come for Dodge to fully redesigned the Viper and prepare it for the 21st century. But they changed the name of the new Viper to the SRT-10. That stood for Street Racing Technology, which was a newly established Chrysler performance division. Also, the “10” stood for its number of cylinders.

Although the overall design was new and modern, the car was unmistakably a Viper. Chrysler`s stylists did a great job of redesigning a legend and retaining all recognizable cues and details. Under the body, the chassis and components were updated. Also, Viper`s most recognizable feature was there, a monster V10 that displaced 8.3-liters and produced 500 HP.

Dodge unveiled the SRT-10 in 2003, first as a convertible without the roll bar. The performance figures were astonishing, and a 0 to 60 mph sprint was possible in 3.8 seconds. And best of all, the 2003 SRT-10 Viper could reach 190 mph top speeds.

  1. 2005 Dodge Viper SRT-10 Coupe

The SRT-10 roadster was a proper performance convertible. However, it was somewhat tamer and easier to live with than the original Vipers. But, for fans of true performance driving who wanted a pure sports car experience, Chrysler presented the SRT-10 Coupe.

It was a gorgeous closed version with the signature “double bubble” roof, rear spoiler and racing stripes. Interestingly, the SRT-10 Coupe wasn’t that different from the roadster in terms of technology and the chassis. Yet it had 10 HP more and better aerodynamics to deliver slightly better acceleration times and top speeds.

  1. 2008-10 Dodge Viper SRT-10

The 2008 model year brought a slight redesign and improvement in interior features. It also heralded the further development of the legendary V10 engine. In fact, the V10 grew by 0.1-liter to a massive 8.4 liters. Also, it got a new cylinder head, variable valve timing and several other improvements.

And all that resulted in its 600 HP rating and performance to rival any European million-dollar exotic. Going from 0 to 60 mph took just 3.7 seconds and its top speed was a whopping 202 mph.

  1. Dodge Viper SRT-10 ACR and ACR X

Chrysler didn’t have an official racing program for the second-generation Dodge Viper. However, several private teams entered independently-prepared cars and achieved some success. So, in 2008, Chrysler decided to introduce a barely road legal model. And it would be the basis for a race car or a perfect track day weapon for most demanding customers.

They named it the American Club Racer, or ACR, for short. And this Viper model had the same power as the regular car. But Dodge made some massive improvements in the aerodynamics, weight reduction, steering, braking and road holding. Also, ACR turned the Viper from an extremely fast sports car to a brutally sharp, precise race car for the streets.

And immediately, the car proved its worth by breaking several track records and beating many costlier sports cars. Seeing the success of the ACR prompted Chrysler to present a track-only ACR-X. It was a limited production model they fitted with racing slicks and the bare minimum of equipment. But it had a 40 HP increase to 640 HP. However, the car wasn’t street legal, so it was just a track vehicle.

  1. 2013 SRT Viper

Many things happened between 2010 when Viper production stopped. But in 2013, Dodge presented a new model they called the SRT Viper. However, the global recession had hit the automobile industry especially hard and Chrysler was one of the companies that received a government bailout. So, Chrysler struck a deal with Fiat and the new corporation was about restructuring.

They were more interested in looking for profit than investing in low volume, high priced sports cars. However, the Viper legend was so strong that Chrysler decided to resurrect it in 2013. It was a new generation featuring many improvements like the 640 HP all aluminum 8.4-liter V10 engine. Also, it had a stiffer, lighter chassis. But the design was pure Viper with a long hood, characteristic front end and sloping roofline.

The new car looked fantastic and performed exceptionally well. In fact, it came with 0 to 60 mph acceleration times of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of over 200 mph. Better yet, the new Viper was a luxury car with the finest leather, infotainment systems and all kinds of electric gadgets. In comparison to the original 1992 car that was a rugged beast, the 2013 model was a sleek rocket. And although it had a recognizable style, it was in a far better package.

Interestingly, Chrysler offered just a coupe and never planned to offer a convertible. Initially, they offered two models the SRT Viper and Viper GTS. And they both featured racing stripes and more interior equipment. Unfortunately, despite the brutal performance, road holding and overall quality, the sales of the last generation Viper were poor. Even though the people and the press liked the car, car buyers were reluctant.

  1. 2016 Dodge Viper ACR

Dodge discontinued the last generation Viper in 2017 due to slow sales. But a car like the Viper couldn’t go without a fight. So, they presented the last special edition in 2016. Dodge called it the Viper ACR, and it was one of the fastest track-ready cars in the world. As you already know, ACR Vipers were always a car purist’s dream.

Those specially-prepared road and track cars had immense possibilities, as well as sublime handling and performance. So, the 2016 version was all that and then some more. It featured unique aerodynamic package that delivered tons of downforce. And it allowed the Viper ACR to break several records for production cars including on the famous Nürburgring track. In magazine testing, the ACR Viper beat almost all Ferraris, Porsches or Lamborghinis.

Also, most car enthusiasts claimed that it was the ultimate American performance car. The secret of the ACR Viper was a slightly more powerful engine with 645 HP. Also, it underwent a significant weight loss and had a perfectly-balanced chassis. Dodge added some race tires and powerful Brembo brakes, too. Unfortunately, at $120,000, it wasn’t affordable by any means, but it was worth every cent.

  1. Alfa Romeo TZ3

You are probably thinking why an Alfa Romeo is on a Dodge Viper list. But, the Alfa Romeo TZ 3 was a previous generation Dodge Viper ACR-X in a track prepared version. Alfa only dressed the Viper into a Zagato body but left the all-important mechanical components. Also, they left the massive 8.2-litre engine intact. Even the interior was the same, but they changed all the badges from Dodge to Alfa Romeo.

The TZ 3 had a supercar-beating performance with 600 HP, 3.4 seconds 0 to 60 mph times and 200 mph top speeds. However, despite the fancy new Italian suit, V10 engine, perfect driving dynamics and legendary name, Alfa only sold nine copies. And they sold none in America, even though the mechanics came from the Dodge Viper, which is a U.S.-made car.

  1. Bristol Fighter

Like Alfa, Bristol is another company who used the Dodge Viper to produce its own creations. They custom-made the chassis with a special body featuring Gullwing doors and a long hood. And even though the design of the Fighter had no resemblance to other Bristol cars, it carries the tradition of using Chrysler engines. In fact, this sports car has an 8.0-liter V10 from the Dodge Viper they rated at 525 HP.

With 0 to 60 mph acceleration times of around four seconds and a top speed of over 200 mph, it was one of the fastest cars when they introduced it. However, Bristol`s refusal to make many cars ended in 2011 when they closed the company after allegedly building only 13 Fighters.

  1. Dodge Viper TV Show Car

To promote their new sports car even more, Chrysler decided to sponsor a TV show in 1994. They called the crime series was called Viper, and the main character drove a highly customized Dodge Viper in a special silver color.

The TV show wasn’t successful, so they canceled it after a few seasons. But the car became somewhat of a cult object among Dodge Viper fans. However, Chrysler built several examples for shooting, and most of them survived. Now, they reside in collections all over the country.

  1. Dodge Viper Hennessey Venom

Over the years, the Hennessey Performance tuning house produced several interesting and over the top Viper conversions. And each car had much more horsepower than Dodge, and they were significantly faster than stock. So, the latest is the fantastic Venom that uses a twin-turbo setup to deliver 1000 HP. That power transforms the last generation Viper into a Veyron-killing machine.

  1. Dodge Viper Concept 1990

Soon in the development process, Chrysler decided on the design of the Viper. But, to gain recognition and support of their customers, they decided to present it in the form of a concept car. So, when they presented the car, it caused a great deal of interest.

In fact, some people even offered a blank check to surprised Chrysler dealers. The Concept came with a 360 V8 engine since the V10 was not yet ready. But the low windshield and special wheels added to the aggressive look and excited the fans.

  1. Dodge Viper GTS-R Concept 2000

The turn of the new millennium was the breaking point for the Dodge Viper. Although the car was already an established American legend, it wasn’t done proving itself. And that is why Chrysler invested a lot of time and effort into the 2000 GTS-R Concept to showcase the new generation.

The GTS-R was basically a racing car with an active aerodynamic package, front and rear spoilers and loads of racing technology. The concept was fully operational and produced 500 HP. Also, it had 0 to 60 mph acceleration times of 3.6 seconds.

  1. Devon GTX

They conceived the GTX as the ultimate American sports car using the Dodge Viper RT10 at the basis. The engine came with numerous modifications and they upgraded the power to 650 HP. The GTX used the same six-speed manual with an improved performance and top speeds.

And it even broke a few track records during testing, but they never officially confirmed that. Unfortunately, the economic downturn and recession of 2009-10 hit the car industry especially hard, causing problems among car makers. So, Chrysler decided to kill the Viper project and discontinue the production of platforms and engines.

This affected the Devon’s production of the GTX. And even though Devon tried to buy the rights for the Viper`s platform, Chrysler rejected the bid. This caused the company to close after building just a fewpre-productionn cars.

  1. Chrysler Firepower Concept

What do you think of combining a Viper chassis with a legendary Hemi V8 engine? Yet, in 2005, Chrysler used the Viper platform to introduce the Firepower Concept. Also, it was an exercise in building a luxury sports car with a high horsepower engine.

The power came from 6.1-liter Hemi V8 that delivered 425 HP. And it could launch this luxury cruiser to 4.5-second 0 to 60 mph time.

  1. VLF Force 1

Automotive executive Bob Lutz, one of the original creators of the Viper, teamed up with car designer, Henrik Fiskerto, create the newest American supercar company they called VLF. So, in 2016, VLF presented the Force 1. It was a supercar they based on the Dodge Viper chassis.

Also, they used the same 8.4-liter V10 engine that now pumps out 745 HP. The new supercar features a redesigned body and wheels. But best of all, it is capable of reaching 60 mph in just 3.0 seconds.

Did you enjoy this complete history of America’s deadliest snake, the Dodge Viper? If you happen to own one of these beasts, you most likely own your local streets. These cars are infamous for looks, speed and performance.

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