The official unveiling of the 2013 SRT Viper at last spring’s New York Auto Show was a boisterous affair. Despite the loud applause, though, there were a few quick to razz the new sports car for looking like little more than a clone of the old coupe. True, the designs are strikingly similar – until you see them sitting side-by-side. The new Viper is no carbon copy, nor is it the rebadged Alfa Romeo many had anticipated in those dark days between the time the old car was pulled from production, in 2010, and word began to leak out that an all-new model was in the works.
Ironically, some of those who loved the old design are also wondering what to make of the 2013 Viper. The concept behind the original 1992 roadster was to come up with a car that was as raw, even brutal, as possible. There were none of the usual amenities. Not even anti-lock brakes or airbags. In a rainstorm it was easier to get drenched than try to install the fold-up vinyl “toupette.” But few cars of the era could come close to matching that first Viper’s pure fun-to-drive factor.
With the addition of the first GTS Coupe and a subsequent list of limited amenities, the Viper did become – dare we say it – a bit more refined over the years. But what to expect from the new one, developed by an all-new management team and subject to new mandates requiring such “niceties” as airbags and electronic stability control? That’s what TheDetroitBureau.com set out to discover as we headed over to the Chrysler Proving Ground in Chelsea, Michigan for our first drive.