A new, hotter-than-ever edition of Dodges supercar, which is even more powerful than its predecessors, goes on sale as a 2003 model. It still promises raw performance, but the new model is lighter and faster. The Viper SRT-10 represents obscene performance, outrageous design and ultimate driver enjoyment, says Jim Julow, vice president of the Dodge Global Brand Center.
The Viper SRT-10s all-aluminum V-10 engine has grown from 488 to 505 cubic inches, or 8.3 liters in displacement, and it yields 500 horsepower and 525 pounds-feet of torque. Those figures almost make the previous V-10 engines 450 hp sound puny. A six-speed-manual transmission sends all that force to 19-inch rear tires. The racing-style chassis incorporates a fully independent suspension and massive brakes.
Unlike the previous Viper, which came in roadster and closed-coupe forms, the 2003 model is produced only as a two-passenger convertible. Its a true convertible, which should please owners whove struggled with the balky soft roof on earlier Vipers. More than any other model on the market, the Viper SRT-10 represents serious, traditional, American muscle that centers on a big engine and a lack of frills. Even so, todays Detroit-built Vipers can be equipped with a number of comfort and convenience features.
Loosely patterned after the Shelby Cobras of the 1960s and the Chrysler Hemi-powered Cunningham racers of the 1950s, the first Viper went on sale as a 1992 model. Three years earlier, a concept version drew enthusiastic response from auto-show visitors, which suggested the wisdom of developing a production model.
Vipers have flaunted their wild and untamed nature from the beginning, and the new version continues that trend. Styling cues for the 2003 model were taken from the Viper GTS/R concept car that was unveiled at the 2000 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Swept-back fenders, deep-cut side scallops and lowered hood lines resemble the styling cues of the original Viper but give the low-slung roadster a more modern appearance. Dodge installed a full-length undertray as one of several steps to improve the Vipers aerodynamics.
The Viper SRT-10s fabric roof has a fresh profile and now ranks as a true convertible, without losing the original roadster feel. Using a single center latch, the bifold clamshell top is said to operate easily for open-air driving. The front tires measure 18 inches in diameter, while P345/30ZR19 rear tires are mounted on forged-aluminum wheels that are 13 inches wide. The new-generation Viper SRT-10 stretches 175.6 inches long overall, rides a 98.8-inch wheelbase 2.6 inches longer than before and stands 47.6 inches tall.
Inside the two-passenger racing-derived cockpit, the driver starts the V-10 engine via a push-button and faces a 220-mph speedometer and a center-mounted tachometer. Dodge promises the Viper SRT-10s interior to fit drivers like a glove by calling it the automotive equivalent of a jet fighter.
Under the Hood
The Vipers 8.3-liter V-10 engine generates 500 hp and 520 pounds-feet of torque. A six-speed-manual gearbox is the sole transmission available.
Antilock brakes are standard, but side-impact airbags are not available.