During the dark days leading up to Chrysler’s bankruptcy and subsequent partnership with Fiat, the company attempted to sell valuable assets in a bid to raise cash. Viper was one of those attempted sales, spun off as a separate brand.
It seemed more of a formality than anything – publicly receiving just a few lowball bids, Chrysler rejected all offers. Surprisingly, the Connor Avenue Assembly plant that produces the Viper was the first to restart production when Chrysler came out of bankruptcy.
The question then turned to a replacement – while Chrysler alluded to one, there was no guarantee of a new model. The current Viper ended production in July 2010 with a run of limited-edition models and track-only variants that aim to increase the car’s value.
The Viper has always served effective duty as a halo car for the Dodge brand but for the Viper to continue, a new model was needed to meet upcoming changes in governmental standards. According toconfirmation has arrived from Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles that a new Viper has been officially approved by the board.
The Viper has always been a uniquely American kind of sports car – brash, powerful and generally unrefined. The new Viper looks to soften some of those hard edges a bit, becoming more “accessible” while retaining its unique traits. In appearance though, the new model seems to be every bit usual Viper, retaining the rearward cabin and a long hood like the previous car.
Most of the speculation on the Viper until now has focused on Ferrari-sourced power and possibly underpinnings. Viper fans and Ferrari aficiandos alike can take rest in the fact that this collaboration never materialized. Gilles says the car will not be powered by a Ferrari engine and also shot down rumors of a new Viper based on the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.
The Viper’s approach to performance and that of Ferrari and Alfa Romeo is very different. That doesn’t mean the car cant’t benefit from a little Italian expertise though – Gilles says Fiat will help tune the car’s suspension “to open the performance envelope.” If this means a Viper that has more prowess in the area of handling, we’re definitely OK with that.
There will be quite a gap between the previous Viper’s July 2010 end of production and the new model – it is set to arrive in 2012 as a 2013 model. Hopefully, it will be worth the wait.