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Snake Bit: Driving the 2013 SRT Viper

Worth the wait.

by on Dec.07, 2012

The 2013 SRT Viper and a 2010 Dodge Viper ACR face off at the Chrysler Proving Grounds.

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.

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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 set out to discover as we headed over to the Chrysler Proving Ground in Chelsea, Michigan for our first drive.


Dodge Viper Redux

Chrysler confirms late 2012 launch…and more.

by on Apr.15, 2011

A Dodge Viper "mule" undergoes testing before the snake's planned return in late 2012.

The snake is back.  Well, almost.  We were pleased to get a teaser shot of the 2013 Dodge Viper, though we’d have been a lot happier if it was the actual next-gen 2-seater, rather than a “mule” using the old model’s body and the ’13 Viper’s mechanicals.

Still, Dodge muscle aficionados will have something to crow about, Chrysler confirming earlier promises to revive the legendary sports car.

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The latest corporate missive is short on details, though it does suggest that the maker has given into modern realities and won’t follow the path blazed by the first-generation Viper, which eschewed high-tech niceties, such as anti-lock brakes.  One of the few things the Dodge news release reveals is that the 2013 Viper will be getting stability control for the first time.

We’ll have to wait to see just how much more high-tech gadgetry and gimmickry it will feature, but the full array of brake-derived systems is a likely.  More advanced chassis controls may also be in the mix considering competitive realities.


Long-Rumored Revival Of Dodge Viper Confirmed

New version of the “snake” to be “unique,” and debut as a 2013 model.

by on Dec.01, 2010

One of the last of the old Dodge Vipers proves its mettle on the track. A new version returns in the 2013 model-year.

Long-time fans of Chrysler’s quirky supercar, the Dodge Viper, have gotten an early Christmas present, though they’ll have to wait a few years to unwrap it.

As part of its restructuring, the automaker wrapped up production of the Viper earlier this year, (Click Here for more), after an 18-year run.  But as first reported in November 2009, a revival was already under study. (For more on that story, Click Here.) Chrysler is now confirming that the 2-seat sports car is scheduled to make its comeback in 2012 as a 2013 model.

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Don’t expect Chrysler to simply pick up where it left off, however, says Ralph Gilles, Chrysler’s corporate chief designer and the head of the Dodge brand.  “There won’t be a part of the car that’s untouched,” he tells Alisa Priddle, of the Detroit News.

While Gilles won’t provide all the details – perhaps because some significant development work is yet to be completed – he did drop one big surprise.  Shortly after taking control of Chrysler, after its 2009 bankruptcy, Fiat sources suggested that the next-generation Viper would be paired with one of the Italian maker’s models, most likely the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.  Alfa used that high-performance model to launch a limited return to the U.S. market, two years ago.