BOLIDE The rebirth of the Viper

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There Viper everything is exaggerated: very long front bonnet, huge V10 engine, lots of “ignorant” horsepower to unload on the ground thanks to the rear wheels and manual gearbox. A “beast”, a Yankee cult with something of a muscle car, wanted and designed in a unique mix by none other than his majesty Carroll Shelby, a gentleman who, starting on the other side of the ocean, managed to win at Le Mans in 1959 with Aston Martin, and was the father of the AC Cobra, the GT40 and much more. He wanted it, the Viper, so different, if only for the fact that it does not have the “usual” V8 in the bonnet.

2013 SRT Viper GTS

Iacocca, yes. Initially branded Dodge, and pushed by the top manager Lee Iacocca, the Viper landed on the market just thirty years ago, at the beginning of 1992, with the initials RT / 10 Roadster. Without being able to boast, for example, the tradition of the legendary Corvette: in any case, the Viper manages to make its way. We, however, do not want to tell you about the first series, but about the last one, that of ten years ago, much less known and branded SRT.

Second life. An unexpected rebirth, that of the Viper in 2012, because just two years earlier, in the summer, the supercar had been “cut” from the programs on the altar of the post-bankruptcy restructuring of Chrysler. It seems over for her, instead a small group of people, led by the head of Chrysler Design, Ralph Gilles, decide not to give up: the staff starts working secretly on the sketches of a new series, to be brought back to the streets with style, updated finishes and equipment. The “secret” project succeeds, and in the end receives the imprimatur from Sergio Marchionne himself, the then great head of Fiat-Chrysler. Thus, the Viper reappears on the platform at the New York Motor Show in April. The brand, meanwhile, is no longer even the Dodge one, but SRT: the latter, an acronym for Street & Racing Technology, indicates a specific division for high-performance models, part of the Chrysler Group at the time.

2013 SRT Viper GTS

More refined interiors. The supercar undergoes several updates, including in the cockpit: seat lowered by more than two centimeters and roof raised slightly, to gain some space. Furthermore, the environment is more welcoming, with soft plastics and high quality leathers, the result of Italian “care” for one of the symbols of made in the USA. Externally, the Viper changes a bit, without changing the proportions and the iconic image of the model. In short, it’s still her, but the front becomes more gritty, thanks to the introduction of a generous lower splitter and the increased air intake on the hood. Here, the latter is made of carbon, like the roof and the trunk, while for other parts of the body, such as the doors, we opt for aluminum. The steel frame and the size of the wheelbase (2.51 meters), however, remain unchanged.

Less weight, more HP. Taking into account the slimming “cure” applied to the engine (made of aluminum), the total weight saving is around 50 kilos (the mass is 1,521 kg). The mighty 90-degree V10 gains a little bit in displacement, going from 8,360 to 8,382 cm³ – at its debut in 1992, it was 7,990 cm³ -, while power increases from 612 to 649 horsepower at 6,150 rpm. Beyond the numbers, the Viper also improves in the delivery of power, a detail not just considering the “forces” at play, torque included, which in turn increases from 760 to 814 Nm. The Yankee sports car is also updated in terms of dynamic skills, improving in terms of agility and confirming all the special emotions of which it is capable. In terms of safety, stability control is introduced for the first time, which can be adjusted on several levels. Even the “viper”, in the end, had to adapt.

She too surrenders to the times. However, despite the excellent conditions, the commercial fortunes of the model are not as expected. Sales, in fact, proceed slowly, production, at times, is reduced. Until the final closure of the line, in the summer of 2017. In a highly polarized world characterized by cyclical crises, premium topcars resist; for the more “affordable” ones, however, there is less and less space.


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