A new, hotter-than-ever edition of Dodge's high-performance Viper went on sale as a 2003 model. 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. A six-speed-manual transmission sends all that force to 19-inch rear tires (18-inch tires are installed in front). The racing-style chassis incorporates a fully independent suspension and massive brakes.
The current model was initially produced only as a two-passenger convertible, but a coupe joins the lineup for the 2006 model year. Finished in Viper Blue with white racing stripes, the solid-roofed model features a "double-bubble" roof, wraparound taillamps and a special windshield surround. Dodge claims the Viper coupe can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. Two new wheel options are also available for 2006. Using new Society of Automotive Engineers testing standards, engine output is now 510 hp and 535 pounds-feet of torque.
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 - 2006 models were taken from the Viper GTS/R concept car unveiled at the 2000 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 belly pan as one of several steps to improve the Viper's aerodynamics.
The convertible Viper's bi-folding 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 510 hp and 535 pounds-feet of torque. A six-speed-manual gearbox is the sole transmission.
Antilock brakes with Brembo calipers are standard, but side-impact airbags are not available.