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The History of the Viper


For every generation there is one automobile which completely captures the imagination of driving enthusiasts, transforming the idea of transportation into the ideal of art.
Names like Cunningham, Allard, Cobra and Testa Rossa come to mind -- cars which combined blinding performance with exceptional form.

Ferrari Testarossa

Since its debut as a concept vehicle early in 1989, Viper has earned the reputation of the quintessential American sports car. Big-blocked, attention grabbing, fast, loud, untamed and uncompromising, the Viper stands out as a modern standard-bearer for pure American heritage and tradition.

 

BEGINNINGS

It all began as a tiny spark in the minds of a few dedicated car enthusiasts at Chrysler, and quickly flamed into the shared passion of a group of like-minded individuals which came to be known as Team Viper.
Foremost in the minds of Team Viper's first members was the idea that a truly legendary automobile could only be created by eliminating virtually all extraneous considerations.
The most important thing was to move one or two persons as quickly as possible and with as much enthusiasm as the driver could coax from a powerful engine and a responsive chassis.

Viper Sportscars Their specific performance benchmark was to accelerate from 0 to 100 mph and to decelerate to 0 again in less than 15 seconds.
They believed Viper's body should recapture the essence of classic sports car design in a truly modern idiom. It had to tightly encompass a hardware package that would include huge tires and wheels, a powerful engine and a highly functional two-seat interior.
Among the benchmarks: the Cunningham, a limited-production Chrysler Hemi-powered race car designed to compete head-to-head with the cream of Europe's celebrated marquees.

With these ideas in mind, a one-of-a-kind Viper RT/10 show car was designed and engineered at Chrysler Corporation's Advanced Styling Studio. It first appeared to the public on January 4, 1989 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, with the goal of testing public reaction to the concept of a back-to-basics high-performance limited-production sports car.

The reaction was overwhelming to say the least. Orders began to flow in even before the show was over.
Team Viper's next assignment? To determine the production feasibility of the Viper RT/10 and then to transform that crowd-pleasing show car into a buildable limited-production sportscar in no more than three years.

 

EARLY DEVELOPMENT

Once the initial idea had been accepted, the decision was made to develop the Viper RT/10 using a platform team concept. The result was an independent group which existed within Chrysler Corporation, making its own rules and creating its own supplier base.
The team leader sifted through scores of volunteers -- Chrysler engineers, designers and managers -- in search of a select few self-admitted car fanatics who would do whatever was necessary to create and produce a very special high-performance sports car.

Operating in its own highly secured area of a major corporate engineering center, Team Viper began three years of intensive, often around-the-clock operations. Their activities stretched from Italy -- where the aluminum engine block was perfected -- to the race tracks at Nelson Ledges and Road Atlanta -- where they fine-tuned Viper RT/10's unique high-performance chassis and powertrain.
Team members worked closely with major automotive suppliers to develop unique components for the Viper RT/10 which would not only withstand the tremendous stresses associated with high-performance driving, but also enhance Viper's considerable performance capabilities.

Chassis prototypes, called "mules" in the automotive industry, were developed to study vehicle dynamics. Within a year of Viper's auto show appearance, a V-8-powered mule was being tested. A few months later, a stablemate powered by a cast iron V-10 joined the test fleet.

In May of 1990, after months of intensive study and testing, Chrysler Corporation announced that the Viper, now powered by the aluminum V-10 was a "go."
In May of 1991, the Viper RT/10 performed as the official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500, further fanning the flames of public interest. Finally, in December of 1991, the first red Viper RT/10 production vehicles rolled off the New Mack Avenue assembly line -- exactly three years after the concept car's 1989 auto show triumph.

The Viper Engine

 

SUCCESS

In 1993, black was offered as a second color option, while the colors bright yellow and emerald green entered the mix in 1994.
Viper production moved in November 1995 to the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, where it remains to this day.
The RT/10 was joined by the Viper GTS in 1996. Introduced to the public at the L.A. Auto Show in January 1993, it was selected to pace the 1996 Indianapolis 500, with actual production beginning in that very same month -- May.

Like the Dodge Viper RT/10, the Viper GTS Coupe teased enthusiast appetites before getting an official green light to build.
In August 1995, Dodge displayed a blue with white striped GTS Coupe prototype at the second annual Dodge Viper Owner Invitational in Monterey, California.
 

 

Also check out:
Technical Stats Dodge Viper GTS

 

 

Copyright Gabriel Schwarzer 2000
Hilton Head High School
Web Site Design Class project