2017 is going to be the swan song for the iconic Dodge SRT Viper. Its final model may be a perfect example of an American muscle car.
It is hard to believe how long we have had the SRT Viper on the roads. Its production was approved by former Dodge Chairman Lee Iacocca in 1990. The first models rolled into showrooms in 1992. A brutal example of horsepower with little refinement.
When the first Viper hit the streets it was totally unique. The Corvette had become stagnant and we still had the fox body mustang. It was a V10 fire breathing monster that slapped you right in the face.
Built around a redesigned Lamborghini V10, the Viper made no secret about its purpose. It was built to put your foot in it and go fast. Lacking anti-lock breaks and traction control, you were in total control once you hit the streets.
The first generation did not even offer a model with a roof or windows. Dodge did provide a canvas top and plastic windows that could be snapped in place. There were no exterior door handles to get in and out.
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In 2017 for the SRT Viper’s farewell, we get a grown up version of the roadster. Don’t get me wrong, it can still be an absolute monster but it has enough modern features to compete with other modern supercars.
The SRT Viper still boasts a massive V10 engine. The difference being in 1992 it was 8.0l rated at 400hp. In 2017 it has grown into 8.4l pumping out 645 horsepower. Top speed has gone from 165 for the first generation to 200+ in this final production year.
The only traction control in the 1992 Viper was provided by truly massive tires for the day. Now there is adjustable traction and stability control to rein in the power if wanted. While late to the game with the driver aids, Dodge did a wonderful job in not taking away too much of the Vipers brutality.
While the general external appearance has not changed in 25 years, subtle changes and additions give this car a modern look. With an incorporated splitter and massive wing option, there is no denying the old school look of the car. It is hard to believe the design has held up so well for so long.
Even though all of the models of the SRT Viper sold out and demand remains high, the run is almost over. Dodge has invested significantly into its Hellcat program. It seems destined to take over as the Dodge hyper performance models.
In the racing world, the Viper has a long and distinguished history. In the American LeMans Series and IMSA, Vipers have had a prominent place in the GT class for years. The Viper Exchange IMSA team is a fan favorite and constant competitor.
I will be sad to see the end of the SRT Viper. It was the beginning of the resurgence of the American muscle cars. When you see a Viper there is no doubt as to what it is. Also when you heard one of the giant V10’s rumble by, your head would snap to see what it is.
It is hard to believe that it has been 25 years since I saw the Viper for the first time. Whenever I get out to a car show, I always stop and look when I see a SRT Viper. Now instead of looking forward to what is next, I will wonder what could have been if the SRT Viper carried on.