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The Viper Returns: Chrysler Announces Plans to Resurrect Its Popular Sports Car

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author photo by Autotrader December 2010

It’s official: the high-energy, high-cost Dodge Viper will soon be resurrected. Chrysler has confirmed plans to bring back the iconic sports car during the summer of 2012, following the model’s cancellation last year.

While the new Viper will debut as a 2013 model, other final details – including engine size, styling, and price point – remain a mystery. But one thing is for sure: Chrysler’s new “halo car” will hardly be a warmed-over version of the previous model.

“There won’t be a part of the car that’s untouched,” Dodge head Ralph Gilles told the Detroit News. Gilles, a car enthusiast known for his design work at Chrysler, confirmed green-lighting the Viper on Tuesday. The confirmation ended considerable enthusiast speculation about whether Chrysler would replace the car, which debuted to heavy fanfare nearly two decades ago.

Gilles also revealed that the new Viper “is not based on anything else,” striking down rumors that a new Viper might be based on an Italian exotic, given Chrysler’s new relationship with Italian automaker Fiat – Ferrari’s parent company. However, Gilles did concede that the new Viper would have some Italian influence.

“We will use [Fiat’s] expertise to open the performance envelope in the Viper,” said Gilles. “Fiat has an awesome ability to tune cars. I want the new Viper to be a more forgiving car to drive and accessible to more people. We’ve never had stability control on a high-performance car, which is about to happen on the new car.”

Past Vipers have frequently been characterized as extremely raw, making use of loud, oversized exhaust systems and lacking sound-deadening materials. To minimize weight for a “pure” driving experience, early Vipers lacked a roof, adjustable seats, air conditioning, and even side windows. While the Viper added features as the years went on, it always boasted a unique design – which the new model will retain, according to Gilles.

“Where the cabin is, relative to the wheels, is unique,” said Gilles, also the head of Chrysler’s design. “The Viper cabin is very rearward and the hood is very long. Few cars in the industry are designed with those proportions anymore.”

The new Viper will be the third (or some say fifth if you count upgrades) g eneration model. After a strong showing at the 1989 North American International Auto Show, the first-generation Viper went into production in 1992, with a coupe model following in 1996. A redesigned Viper debuted in 2003, featuring 500 horsepower – a figure which had ballooned to 640 before the model’s cancellation at the end of the 2010 model year.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Viper Returns: Chrysler Announces Plans to Resurrect Its Popular Sports Car - Autotrader