Monday, January 29, 2007

The Dodge Viper, Part 3

The Dodge Viper underwent a major redesign in 2003, courtesy of DaimlerChrysler's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) group. The new Viper SRT-10 was heavily restyled with sharp, angled bodywork. The engine was enlarged to 8.3 L which, with other upgrades, combined to increased output to 505 hp (375 kW) and 525 ft·lbf (711 N·m) of torque. The chassis was also improved. It became more rigid and weighed approximately 80 lbs less than the previous model. The cornering was exceptional, rivaling or surpassing many other supercars from Ferrari and Porsche. An even better chassis and engine were planned for the car, but Chrysler feared that the Viper's price would reach $100,000. Even if that were the case, the Viper's price would still undercut its rivals significantly. The initial model was a convertible. In 2004, Dodge introduced a limited edition Mamba package. Mamba edition cars featured black interiors, with red stitching and trim and saw their MSRP price rise by roughly $3000. 200 Mambas were produced.

The new Viper SRT-10 Coupe (no longer called the GTS) was introduced in 2005 at the Detroit Auto Show as a 2006 model. It shares many of its body panels with the convertible but takes its side and rear styling cues from the Competition Coupe (see below). The new coupe looks much like the previous Viper GTS and retains the "double-bubble" roof shape of the original, along with the original GTS's taillights as well offering the original Viper Blue paint scheme with white stripes (referred to as GTS Blue) for an added homage to the original Viper coupe. The engine was also certified by the SAE to produce 510 hp and 535 lb/ft of torque. It is important to note that the engine makes the same power as before, only the numerical value of the power was changed. Unlike the original coupe, the chassis was not modified. This made the new coupe heavier than the convertible, and thus slightly slower in low speed acceleration. Handling and high speed performance were improved by the coupe's stiffer frame, reduced drag, and increased downforce.

It has been confirmed officially that the 2008 Viper will get a 90hp bump up to 600hp and a 25lbft torque bump up to 560lb-ft from a displacement increased up to 8.4 liters (510ci/8354cc), better flowing heads with larger valves and dual throttle bodies. The development of the engine was done with help from McLaren Cars and Ricardo. Changes outside of the powerplant are minimal, but still influential. The T56 transmission has been replaced with the new Tremec TR6060, and a revised shifter has been paired with the new gearbox. Shifts are claimed to be 18% quicker (faster than the Corvette Z06). The Dana M44-4 rear axle from the 2003 model now has a GKNVisco differential that greatly help the tires in getting grip under acceleration. One last performance upgrade was the removal of run-flat tires; the new tires remove most of the minor flaws of the early gen III models and should give the Viper nearly unmatched handling on any circuit. Another notable change is the reworking of the exhaust system, previous third generation Vipers had their exhaust crossover under the seats which resulted in a large amount of heat going into the cockpit, this was done initially to help improve the cars exhaust note, since the first 2 generations of Viper, which had no crossover, were criticised for their lackluster exhaust notes. For 2008, the Viper exhaust will utilize a new exhaust system with no crossover, reducing the heat that enters the cockpit, but still produces an exotic sound.

The third generation Viper has been sold in Europe since 2004, the first model to be sold as a Dodge, as part of Chrysler's new sales strategy for the European market. It's however sold as the "Dodge SRT-10", as the Viper name is a registered trademark in the UK.



0-60: 3.8 sec.

0-100: 8.36 sec.

quarter mile: 11.7 sec. @ 123 mph

top speed: 196 mph

slalom: 72.4 mph

skidpad average g: 1.05

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