A new, hotter-than-ever edition of Dodge's longtime sports car went on sale as a 2003 model; it was lighter and faster than its predecessor and promised "raw performance." The Viper SRT10 represents "obscene performance, outrageous design and ultimate driver enjoyment," said Jim Julow, vice president of the Dodge Global Brand Center.
The Viper SRT10's all-aluminum V-10 grew from 8.0 to 8.3 liters in displacement, yielding 500 horsepower and 525 pounds-feet of torque. These figures almost make the previous V-10's 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.
Race Yellow and Copperhead Orange are new body colors for 2005. Introduced later in the model year, Copperhead Orange is accompanied by a special interior package that includes black leather upholstery with contrasting orange stitching.
The current model is produced only as a two-passenger convertible, but a coupe will join the lineup for the 2006 model year. The new version is a true convertible, which should please buyers who had first-hand experience with the balky soft roof on earlier Vipers.
More than any other model on the market, the Viper SRT10 represents serious, traditional, American performance centered on a big engine and a lack of frills. Even so, today's 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.
Vipers have flaunted their wild and untamed nature from the beginning, and the current version continues that theme. Styling cues for the 2003 - 2005 model were taken from the Viper GTS/R concept car unveiled at the 2000 North American International Auto Show. 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 belly pan as one of several steps to improve the Viper's aerodynamics.
The Viper's fabric roof uses a single center latch. Forged aluminum wheels hold 18-inch front tires, while P345/30ZR19 rear tires are mounted on wheels that are 13 inches wide. The Viper SRT10 stretches 175.6 inches long overall, rides a 98.8-inch wheelbase and stands 47.6 inches tall.
Inside the two-passenger racing-derived cockpit, the driver starts the V-10 engine via a button and sits before a 220-mph speedometer and a center-mounted tachometer. Dodge claims the Viper SRT10's interior will fit drivers like a glove, calling it "the automotive equivalent of a jet fighter."
Under the Hood
The Viper's 8.3-liter V-10 generates 500 hp and 525 pounds-feet of torque. A six-speed-manual gearbox is the sole transmission.
Antilock brakes are standard, but side-impact airbags are not available.