Chrysler has released three additional SRT videos: including footage of the original showcar being revealed at the 1989 Detroit Auto Show (an unvealing we remember well), an interview with Ralph Gilles, and a visit to the Conner Avenue assembly plant. Enjoy!
Now available here: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-blog/?page_id=12138.
Click on the thumbnail in the gallery for a full-size image.
Press video released by SRT today:
An index to our posts covering the unveiling today of the 2013 SRT Viper.
We’ve got notes taken during the presentation by Ralph Gilles, the images presented to the press in the presentation, and the full set of press materials including the 2 press releases, press video, and high-res images.
Click on the following links for our coverage:
- Press conference: our notes and live images: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-blog/?p=12082
- Two Press releases from SRT: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-blog/?p=12104
- Press video: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-blog/?p=12121
- Full gallery of 61 high-res press photos: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-blog/?page_id=12138
- And three more videos! http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-blog/?p=12693
At the New York Auto Show today, simulcast live over the web, SRT unveiled the new and highly anticipated Viper. The Viper is now branded SRT – no longer Dodge.
SRT is currently running at 20,000 sales per year. SRT (as Ford’s SVT attempted and ultimately failed) brings customers into the showroom that Dodge and Chrysler wouldn’t otherwise see.
Ralph Gilles, President and CEO – Street and Racing Technology Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC. made it clear that the Viper was designed and will be built in the United States (Conner Assembly re-opened but reconditioned). However, he also said that Ferrari and Maserati “friends” helped SRT better understand how to build low-volume products.
According to Gilles: the new Viper is all about evolution. The Viper shows that Chrysler has a soul, that it has returned as a “real automobile company”.
Features and specs:
- Engine is 28 pounds lighter, and more powerful
- Chassis 50% stiffer
- 7 different wheels
- Brand new Pirelli tires 295 and 355 – with unique compounds front/rear
- Superformed aluminum on the doors and sills
- Carbon fiber for the hood, roof, and deck. Rest of external body parts are aluminum.
- Overall the car is 32% lighter in the body alone. 3354 lbs. With optional track pack, 3297 pds.
- Clamshell hood brought back – a required “Viper” feature. Underhood purposefully beautiful.
- Slight changes in existing V-10: 640 HP – 40+ Torque up 40 pds - 600 ft-lb. Highest torque output of any naturally aspirated engine in the world. Dual intake path continues, but manifold is now composite for lighter weight.s
- Side exhaust behind/under drivers door (as before, no word on routing or crossover)
- Dry weight HP/pounds = 4.91. Third best in the world (ahead of ZR-1).
- Launch control
- Stability control (fully switchable off)
- Cruise Control
- 2-mode adjustable suspension on the GTS model (push button)
- center screen between dash gauges – included shift light – actually a “shift snake” light
- center screen for navigation & controls
- Seat built by Sabelt – same as Ferrari (6′ 7″ can now drive comfortable)
- Interior can be had with a multitude of customizations. Premium leather package – red, tan, black. Note shoulder belt pass-thru holes in seat
- 2 models: SRT GTS Viper (up-market) and SRT Viper (base). Coupe only.
- Race model (because quote ”we can’t afford to go racing”) featured in Microsoft Forza. However, immediately after he said this he rolled out a race-prepared car was pulled onto the stage. They will be re-entering the American LeMans series.
Join driveSRT.com for marathon coverage of the 2013 SRT Viper reveal, including a live webcast from the New York International Auto Show at 11:30 AM Eastern Time and a live webcast from the exclusive owner-only SRT Viper Gala at 6 PM Eastern Time.
Invite your friends to this virtual event. Then, pack some snacks, lower the lights and host a viewing party for your SRT club as the next-generation SRT Viper captures the world’s imagination.
SRT has provided a “teaser” photo of the new Viper, showing part of the console and passenger seat. If you look very closely, and use photo enhancement software, you’ll find a QR code with an invitation to the event!
With the Viper now out of production, and rumors flying about an all-new Viper in 2012 (or at least something based on a platform from parent Fiat), it’s time to remember our own time with a Viper that was representative of both the start and the finish of the line.
Our 400-mile road test of a 1997 Viper GTS in August 1998 gave a friend and I an opportunity to get familiar with the personality of the car, it’s driving characteristics, and it’s livability.
This was a new 97, immaculate and carefully cared for, and with only 1100 miles on the odometer when we started our trip from Austin to Texas World Speedway and back.
To recap the technical aspects:
- A 2-dr. hatchback GTS model (also available in an open-roof coupe “R/T”)
- Front engine, rear wheel drive
- 8 liter V-10 (aluminum-block version of a Dodge truck engine), but only 450 horses, 490 torque. Oddly (with visible results at a certain SCCA Runoff!) there is no windage tray or baffling in the oil pan!
- T-56 6-speed.
- Michelin 17″ wheels: 335s rear, 275s on the front.
- Bright red w/chrome wheels (thankfully not the orange-yellow painted wheels some Vipers have). No stripe on this car.
- 13 inch brakes all around – 4 piston front calipers, single piston rear – NO anti-lock.
- Costs range from $60-70k (used GTS: typically under 60)!
The temperature on the day of the road test peaked at almost 120 degrees, bringing out the worst of the car, and showing us what the inside of the car during a fast session on track would be like. In a word: “FAIL“.
We found that the Viper was a very poor ”car” and a not very proficient “toy”. Tons of power, awesome and phenomenal horsepower. But tricky handling, and absolutely unlivable. An expensive lesson is here to be learned, best summed up with some words from classic Star Trek: “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true”.
I’ve driven a wide range of different performance cars over my years of racing and instructing and I was really expecting a lot more from this car. At the start of the day, we hoped to enjoy the drive. But as we drove further and further, the car’s real problems came out and we began to feel let down.
Body & Interior
Walking around and looking under the car, you’ll notice a couple of things. First, the factory build techniques aren’t very sophisticated and the quality is terrible - even a period Taurus is built far better than this car. The joints are mostly all straight, the hood (semi-clamshell) fits well. However, there are lots of panels bolted on – instead of bonded. The hood “fluttered” at speed. It seemed to have a “wave” pass thru it when going over short choppy bumps. The rear window is bonded onto a crossmember between the two hinges, and it was already loose – when the bond lets go altogether (soon), the rear window will fly off the car. Closing the hatch stresses the bond and makes it even worse – a very poor design.
Inside, there are leather high-back buckets, very low on the floor, with little side support or bolstering. Soft padding – not like the best Recaro seats would provide. They adjust fore/aft roughly 4 inches, and recline just a very few degrees. A very high console runs up the middle of the interior, and the sole interior storage is a very small lockable box just behind your elbows. Several mesh nets around the cabin – on the seats, roof, above the lockable storage. These nets were a smart idea that I’d like to see elsewhere.
The drivers position is so poor that your head ends up resting right on the section of roof above the window. I’m about 5’11″, and if it wasn’t for the slight bulge in the roof I couldn’t wear my helmet inside this car. You right leg has to rest against the console – the gas pedal is right up against it. Your left leg has to be held above the clutch – there isn’t room for a dead pedal! Both knees are therefore resting right on the steering wheel. Driving in this weird position, I was only able to last about 80 miles before I had to literally get out of the car because of a huge leg cramp. Strangely, the passenger seat is a lot more comfortable.
The steering wheel is big, fat, leather wrapped, and tilt-adjustable. It really needs a telescoping feature: it angles off somewhere the right; you are jammed in the seat towards the left; and it just gets worse given the terrible pedal position.
The pedals use a trick system where they can be adjusted fore/aft. However (and you’ll see me use this word a lot in this report), they needed to be farther forward for me to fit. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be adjusted any further forward – the clutch pedal has to be pushed in so far that the pedals couldn’t be moved any farther forward. Worse yet, the pedals are not in the same plane; there is no dead pedal; and there is an enormous gap between the gas pedal and the clutch pedal.
The air conditioning system is completely insufficient, ridiculously so. There are three small rectangular vents in the middle of the instrument panel, and a round vent on each side of the panel underneath (none on the sides of the dash). The slightest acceleration cuts the air conditioner out – which means it is very often blowing hot air. There is also a tremendous amount of hot air coming into the interior from the transmission, the exhaust on each side, and from the engine up front.
The factory stereo is terrible, and can’t even be heard at any engine RPM or speed. Forget about speakers – wherever they were they didn’t work at all. The antennae is built into the windshield (GM style) and also doesn’t work very well.
Engine & Driveline
Modern engines are quickly moving towards 100 horses/liter. Today’s well tuned naturally aspirated engines are making at least in the neighborhood of 80 horsepower/liter or more (pushrod engines less), with one or two exceptional standouts making over 120 horsepower/liter. Not this throwback – it has a horsepower per liter rating lower than a Neon. Throwback isn’t even the right word. Oddly this engine is tuned for mid-rangepower – not low end and not top end. It doesn’t feel like a “tractor” 4.9 liter Mustang engine at all – you have to slip the clutch a bit to get it moving. You’d think it would have massive low-end torque, but it doesn’t. It’s midrange tuning makes this engine very strong in the 60-120 range: passing slow moving cars on the way to TWS was, ahem, “not a problem”.
This engine runs extremely hot – it started at 195 degrees and spent most of it’s time at 220 (going as far as 240). The temperature will raise sharply if you decelerate and drive at normal speed thru a town, or get stuck in traffic. As the engine got *very* hot, it started to detonate slightly between shifts. The engine did not loose any fluid.
An idle speed of an indicated 500 RPM means a lot of rumble and noise while sitting in your driveway or holding the clutch in at a stoplight. Don’t take this to mean it has a wild cam. Because of it’s tuning, at part throttle it’s actually docile.
The Viper has an absolutely terrible exhaust system – I’ve heard it referred to as a “Miata on steroids”. It doesn’t sound like a proper V-10 or V-12 and it certainly doesn’t sound like a V-8. Just like the original Viper RT/10, the exhaust system is routed along the sides of the car immediately below the side door sills – but in this case it exits out the back. It is so hot after any amount of driving that Chrysler felt they had to warn occupants against touching the sill by placing a sticker on the passenger side door opening. Excellent advice, too, because it will burn you.
Lets talk brakes. The fr/rr brake balance is very poor – the owner had even locked it up in the front a couple of times. The pads created an incredible amount of dust: the wheels were literally black from this short drive. The brake pads became seriously hot, leading to the wheels getting burning hot to the touch, resulting in a noticeable amount of brake fade (noticeable, not dangerous).
The T-56 transmission was as good as they came back in these days, but seemed a bit more vague than usual. It definitely needed an aftermarket shifter – trying to shift into 5th after passing somebody in 4th was very difficult. Surprisingly, there was a lot of driveline slop, with a noticeable degree of take-up in the differential at speed – very much like a worn solid-axle Mustang.
We started the drive happy with our fortune – it isn’t every day you can borrow a Viper to go see a race. As the day went on, we got less and less enthusiastic about the car. It was hot, it was a huge pain in the neck (and legs, and lower back), and it was a fight to keep it pointed straight down the road. This isn’t a car that could be used for a daily drive, much less any kind of touring drive. You certainly couldn’t stand to drive it to the track, it would have to be trailered. Once on the track, you’d find that the very poor driving position would be a serious detriment to concentrating on your driving. Nevertheless, if you can avoid it’s inherent tendency to spin, you can turn excellent lap times.
Now for the obvious un-PC question (the one that matters to the owners) – was it a “babe magnet”? Yes, unquestionably, and more so than just about anything else you could drive (ok, a Lambo would have been better). Needless to say, there were any number of “opportunities” today. We had to stop several times to get some cold drinks (dehydration being a major problem in this car), and many people came walking up to the car to look it over and imagine themselves inside it. In the early morning, while stopped at a McDonalds, a lady stopped in her Jaguar Vanden-Plas to admire the car! Oddly, she was wearing a fur coat – and it was already 100 degrees outside.
What single factor about this car that makes the biggest impression? The engine of course, but it’s also a weak point of the car. Couple that with the terrible interior and you can’t even drive this car as fast as it could be driven.
Verdict – spend your money elsewhere. Your can easily find one of these for $35-40k (at the time of this writing), but you can also find a C6 Z06 for $40k. And you can live with a Corvette a lot easier than you can with this.
The “new” Chrysler has been flirting with a new Viper, even showing a development mule to journalists. The intent is to use a V-10 again, even though Chrysler has access to Ferrari technology through Fiat. Either way, couple an improved engine with a modern interior and ergonomics, better build quality, and you’d have a truly modern American supercar. And please get rid of the silly snake emblem – this shouldn’t be a kiddy car.
AutoWeek reports that Chrysler is exploring “strategic options” for it’s Viper product line. This means that like Ford (Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, and perhaps Volvo) and GM (hummer), the Viper business would be sold lock, stock, and barrel to another company.
Chrysler has already said that it has no Viper product in the pipeline past 2010 and that the Viper would probabaly be allowed to die a slow death as finances allow after that.
This new plan, if executed, would sell the Viper business to a third party and then support it with technology and engineering support. The news comes as an unpleasant surprise to Viper owners and enthusiasts, who always believed that the Viper business was profitable and would continue.
Read the Autoweek article: http://www.autoweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080827/FREE/808279989/1508/newsletter02
We’ve just returned from sitting thru this terrible film. Some folks thought Wanted might be a great summer movie for car enthusiasts… unfortunately, it’s not a great movie for anybody.
On the car front, a handful of nice cars and one that appear to have been pulled from the staff parking lot are used throughout the film. From the trailers you might think the red Viper is the automotive star of the film… and you’d be wrong.
After an impossibly silly stunt early in the film the Viper isn’t seen again. Indeed – and very oddly – in the very next scene an old C4 Corvette is substituted – totally out of style with the Jolie character. Perhaps the budget ran out and only allowed for one Viper stunt car – and indeed some people believe that the C4 was digitally inserted over the Viper. Worse, when the Jolie character is shown shifting, it’s a clearly a Viper shifter being moved. And that’s the end of even the slightest interest for car enthusiasts.
And speaking of being moved, several Viper Club members had reserved seating in the theater. There they were, all but one with t-shirts featuring the big grinning worm, and the other with a shirt featuring racetracks the wearer had clearly never seen. After some glee from the appearance of the Viper very early on, they sat in glum silence for the rest of the overly-long nearly 2-hour movie.
Angelina Jolie gives an oddly wooden characterization, and even tosses in one naked butt shot. Does the UN Goodwill Ambassador need to do that?
James McAvoy as the reluctant hero does better, but his writers spend a huge chunk of the film explaining what a sad loser his character is: his best friend is bonking his live-in girlfriend and his boss looks like a refugee from the movie Hairspray (could that be John Travolta underneath?). And then there is Morgan Freeman, for some reason given an acting credit when he can’t act at all. He delivers his lines with the same lack of enthusiasm as he has done since before the gadawful Million Dollar Baby. I’m sure he could have tried a bit harder for his multi-million dollar fee. Freeman can do better than this… although he hasn’t for a very very long time.
If there was a saving grace for this film, it was the theater we choose to see it at. Those of you readers in Austin or Houston TX are very familiar with the terrific Alamo Drafthouse chain – a locally-owned set of theaters that also serve food and drinks. The Alamo makes any stinker of a film (except the gadawful No Country For Old Men) a good time – as does a nice date.