The Dodge Viper is a V10-powered sports car manufactured by the Dodge division of Chrysler LLC. Production of the two seat sports car began at New Mack Assembly in 1992 and moved to its current home at Conner Avenue Assembly in October 1995. The car, as well as numerous variations of it, has made countless appearances in TV shows, video games, movies, and music videos.
The Dodge Viper was initially conceived in late 1988 at Chrysler's Advanced Design Studios. The following February, Chrysler president Bob Lutz suggested to Tom Gale at Chrysler Design that the company should consider producing a modern Cobra, and a clay model was presented to Lutz a few months later. The car appeared as a concept at the North American International Auto Show in 1989. This concept Dodge Viper was originally named Copperhead because of its low, wide appearance characteristic of reptiles. All engines for the Dodge Viper have since been know as "cooperhead". The name would later be changed to Viper. Public reaction was so enthusiastic, that chief engineer Roy Sjeoberg was directed to develop it as a standard production vehicle.
Sjoberg selected 85 engineers to be "Team Viper", with development beginning in March 1989. The team asked the then-Chrysler subsidiary Lamborghini to cast some prototype aluminum blocks based on Dodge's V10 truck engine for sports car use in May. The production body was completed in the fall, with a chassis prototype running in December. Though a V8 was first used in the test mule, the V10, which the production car was meant to use, was ready in February 1990.
Official approval from Chrysler chairman, Lee Iacocca, came in May 1990. One year later, Carroll Shelby piloted a pre-production car as the pace vehicle in the Indianapolis 500 race. In November 1991, the car was released to reviewers with first retail shipments beginning in January 1992.
In 2008, with the introduction of the 8.4 L V10, the Dodge Viper received a 90 hp (67 kW) bump up to 600 hp (450 kW), a 25 lb·ft (34 N·m) torque bump up to 560 lb·ft (759 N·m) and the engine displacement was increased up to 510.0 cubic inches (8,383 cc) from 505.6 CID (8,285 cc) of the 8.3 L engine, also receiving better flowing heads with larger valves, Mechadyne cam-in-cam variable valve timing on the exhaust cam lobes, and dual electronic throttle bodies. The rev limit was able to be increased by 300 rpm due to the improved valve-train stability from both the new camshaft profiles and valve-springs. The development of the engine was done with some external assistance from McLaren Automotive and Ricardo Consulting Engineers. Electronic engine control is developed by Continental AG, the controller is capable of monitoring the crankshaft and cylinder position up to six times during each firing and has 10 times more processing power compared to the previous unit.
Changes outside of the engine were less extreme, but still influential. The Tremec T56 transmission has been replaced with a new Tremec TR6060 which now has triple first gear synchronizers and doubles for higher gears. Shifts are claimed to be 18% quicker than the 2006-2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. The Dana M44-4 rear axle from the 2003-2006 model now has a GKN ViscoLok speed-sensing limited-slip differential that greatly helps the tires in getting grip under acceleration. Another performance upgrade was the removal of run-flat tires; the new Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires have increased driver feedback as well as grip and, along with revised suspension (springs, anti-roll bars, and shock valving), has made the Viper more neutral in cornering.
The modifications made to the 2008 model year car were enough for Chrysler to make it distinct from the first SRT-10, and the 2008 model became known as Gen IV, just in time for release with Chevrolet's 620 hp (460 kW) Corvette ZR1. 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 criticized 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 allowing the Viper to still produce an exotic sound.
The electrical system has been completely revised for 2008. Changes include a 180-amp alternator, twin electric cooling fans, electronic throttles, and completely new VENOM engine management system. CAN bus architecture has been intertwined with pre-existing systems to allow for regulatory compliance. The fuel system was upgraded to include a higher capacity fuel pump and filtration system.
Car and Driver recently tested the car and got a 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds, a 0-100 mph time of 7.6 seconds and a Quarter Mile-time of 11.6 seconds at 126 mph (203 km/h). Dodge Vipers's claims for top speed are 197 mph (317 km/h) and 202 mph (325 km/h), for the Roadster and Coupe respectively. Car and Driver also tested the Viper's track performance, and managed a fast sub 3 minute lap time around Virginia International Raceway. The Viper's time, despite hot weather, was faster than the Corvette Z06, Ford GT, Porsche 911 Turbo and 911 GT3, Audi R8, and other such cars. According to Car and Driver and Motor Trend, the car's slightly adjusted suspension setup and new differential gave it cornering ability as sharp as before with even better control, feedback, and response.
Dodge Viper Performance 2008
dodge viper fourth generation
0-60 mph (96km/h):3.5 sec
0-100 mph (160km/h):7.6 sec
Quarter mile: 11.6 sec @ 128 mph (206 km/h)
Top speed: 202 mph (325 km/h)
slalom: 70 mph (113 km/h)+
skidpad average acceleration: 1.06 g (10.4 m/s²)
100-0 mph: 270 ft (82 m)