SRT promised that the third-generation Dodge Viper would be the first American supercar to be capable of defeating its European rivals. With an upscale interior and revised ergonomics, the automotive press had high hopes for SRT’s new project. Unfortunately, when the car was released in 2013 it was a bit of disappointment.
Granted, the chassis was a big improvement over the outgoing car, but the steel frame design was still distinctly old-school. And coupled with the ageing 8.4-litre V10 engine, the car felt lightyears behind the competition. The $90,390 (£62,891) starting price was also a turn off for buyers, especially when the dynamically polished Chevrolet Corvette Stingray went on sale a year later for just $56,395 (£39,238).
Sales figures for the Viper were predictably tragic, but SRT didn’t give up the fight. In order to boost sales Chrysler reduced the retail price by $15,000 and then released the brilliant TA and ACR track variants to corner the ‘hardcore’ part of the market. Unfortunately after all of that effort it turns out that these drastic measures were in vain, with the current model being axed in 2017.
However, somewhat surprisingly the death of the Viper isn’t due to its poor sales performance. In fact, it’s down to a small technicality. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS, the American version of NCAP) regulation #226 states that all vehicles must feature side curtain airbags by 2017. But the Viper, with its already restricted ergonomics, doesn’t have the headroom to fit the required safety system according to a source familiar with the FCA’s (Chrysler) plans. As a result Dodge are effectively forced to stop producing the current model.
All is not lost however; in a recent interview with Motor Trend, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne hinted that the Viper might return with a completely different architecture. And with FCA owning large chunks of Maserati, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, platforms shouldn’t be too hard to come by. An insider at the Detroit Motor Show even hinted that a new - well overdue - drivetrain might be in the pipeline. So if these rumours are to believed, we might finally receive the class-leading American supercar that we’ve all been longing for. Perhaps the Viper’s death isn’t bad news after all.
Source: Motor Trend