Photo credit: ThomasClassics
The Dodge Viper was discontinued back in 2017, around now is when rumors would persist about the next generation set to come out next year or maybe in 2022. A recent story involving MotorTrend Car of the Year judges Tom Gale and Chris Teodore was published. Both of these men were previously employees of FCA when the launch of the original Viper happened in the 1980s. In fact, Gale was the Vice President of Design for the Viper. They have more experience in regards to how the Viper was first made and what it would take to see another run of the world-famous Viper. Let’s take a deep dive into the interesting history and future of the Dodge Viper!
The Beginning of the Dodge Viper
The debut of the Dodge Viper was in 1992, simply known as the RT/10 and in January 1992 the Viper was off and running for the public. Rear-drive roadster with an impressive 8.0-Liter V10 engine with 400 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. Many cars on the road today don’t offer that kind of engineering and impressive strength. This was just the first Viper that debuted nearly thirty years ago. It’s six-speed manual transmission came as a coupe with no other modifications and wouldn’t offer any impressive infotainment as found in later generations. From its first world appearance at the 1989 Detroit Auto Show, the fans flocked to this vehicle. By 1992, the world was ready for the Viper and it beat the Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 quickly becoming a much sought after car.
“We really want a V10 car because we want something that had a heroic proportion. We wanted something that was unique—different. I just wouldn’t want something that was in the image of what somebody else did,” Gale said.
Dodge Viper GTS Come Next
Where could Dodge go but continue their progress for the next-generation Viper, which first debuted at the 1993 Los Angeles Auto Show. Known as the GTS, this was the more powerful, better car overall. With enhanced safety and better performance and amenities, owners flocked to get this next-gen Viper. New features included power windows, Nomex-wrapped side-exit exhaust pipes to the rear, increased horsepower up to 450 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque. The Viper was also lighter, yet strengthened by a stiffer chassis and more liberal usage of aluminum in the car’s suspension. The vehicle became available in 1996 and was the kind of car on posters hanging on walls of kids and racing enthusiasts.
“Bigger-and badder-than life. Few legends truly live up to their press. The Dodge Viper GTS, on the other hand, exceeds the hyperbole that engulfs it,” we wrote in May of 1997.
Third and Fourth Generation Dodge Viper Models
Like an action-movie franchise with sequels that kept getting a larger budget, the Viper continued to debut a new version every so often and improved upon what made it so special to begin with. The third-generation Dodge Viper arrived at the 2000 Detroit Auto Show as the GTS-R concept. Stronger and more luxurious than the previous two Viper models. The roadster-only 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10 captured the essence of both the concept and the original Viper RT/10. The powertrain included a V10 that supplied 500 horsepower and 525 lb-ft of torque paired with a six-speed manual transmission and wider rear rubber.
By the time the 2008 Viper SRT-10 coupe and convertible came out, they gave owners a new 8.4-liter V10 that hit the 600 horsepower mark with even more torque at 560 lb-ft and a new limited-slip differential. Production ended by 2010, a short run for Dodge and its powerful Viper. So, with a short period away from the spotlight, yet another Viper came out.
Fifth and Final Dodge Viper
The Dodge Viper SRT (Street Racing Technology) showed up in 2013, then-SRT chief and legendary designer Ralph Gilles added this quote about the vehicle upon its debut, “We had the privilege to design the Viper—not the right.” The next-gen Viper equipped a 8.4-Liter V10 with 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque, with its standard six-speed manual transmission. This new Viper failed to surpass the Corvette this time around. Sales for the fifth-generation Viper were never particularly strong to begin with, and that fact, coupled with tightening safety restrictions spelled the end of the Viper in 2017. After a few limited-edition models, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Connor Assembly Plant in Detroit closed the door on the Dodge Viper production run for good.
What Comes Next For the Viper?
So, is there a chance for another run? A six-generation Dodge Viper? Another sequel to the always compelling Dodge icon? We will have to wait and see. Dodge has seen its brand become entrenched in its muscle car vehicles that returned to prominence in the mid-2000s thanks to the Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger. Both of those vehicles are still enjoying a long-term successful run with both vehicles still using the same platform they debuted with. That kind of success has not made Dodge think about the Viper, but for two of the men responsible for creating one of the Dodge brand’s most iconic vehicles, they are proud of their work and five-generation run of a car they helped create, the iconic Dodge Viper.
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