(from DaimlerChrysler Press Release)
Since its introduction as a concept car at the 1989 North American
International Auto Show in Detroit, the Dodge Viper has captured the
hearts and imagination of enthusiasts around the globe. It has also
captured its share of trophies on the track as a three-time FIA GT2 and
Le Mans class champion.
The next chapter of Dodge Viper continues to set the definition of
extreme, yet features greater levels of refinement and finish. In other
words, Viper retains its essence - its "Viperness" - while taking
natural steps forward.
Those who have never driven or ridden in a Dodge Viper can scarcely
understand the way the car translates torque into forward momentum, nor
can they fully appreciate the turning and braking capabilities of its
massive tires and disc brakes.
The new Viper SRT-10 takes that unbelievable rush of performance to an
entirely new level - beyond even that of the current American
performance car standard. If one ride doesn't thrill, exhilarate,
energize or excite you more than any other car on the road, check your
Convertible Top Opens the Possibilities for New Redesign
Engineers at Dodge, who had grown fond of their RT/10 Roadster and GTS
Coupe and proud of the cars' performance capabilities, were fully aware
of the wide tiretracks they would have to fill when the decision was
made to create a new, true convertible version of America's ultimate
What began as a simple plan to alter the RT/10's roofline quickly grew
to a "blue-sky" redesign when designers and engineers discovered that
the accompanying 2.6-inch lengthening of the wheelbase would change more
than 50 percent of the car's body panels and many chassis components.
Vehicle synthesis engineers, never ones to sit idly by, set to work
immediately using the stretch as their opportunity to find incremental
ways to update and improve the car. And quicker than you can say "hasta
la vista," the teams found out that with a little bit of tweaking here
and an upgraded assembly there, they would have an entirely new car to
While the Chrysler Group's famously creative design office staged an
internal search for the best new Viper design sketch, performance-minded
engineers at then Team Viper began to analyze the opportunities that a
redesign could offer on the performance front.
About the same time, combined marketing, engineering and communications
teams from Dodge began polling key constituencies on what the next Viper
should be - and as important, what it shouldn't be.
Among one of the most vocal and enthusiastic opinion groups - the owners
AKA Dodge's Viper Nation - the replies consistently demanded...
A new convertible top mechanism
A dead pedal
Greater interior comfort
Owners were also asked what they didn't want:
A "bow-tie" lookalike
It was universally agreed that no matter the degree of change, certain
Viper attributes - the car's legacy and signature to the world - must
The message was loud and clear - Viper must be a front-engined,
two-seat, rear-wheel-drive sports car. It must have a V-10 making at
least as much power as the current 450 hp versions. That a six-speed
manual transmission be the only choice. That it be devoid of cupholders,
cruise control and traction control. Viper would be a driver's package,
and never a luxury boat posing as a sports car.
Viper Remains True to the Original
Dodge took its directives and built a
mission statement for the new car. When Dodge laid out the mission for
its new 2003 Viper SRT-10 Convertible, it started with five vision
Build a true convertible version of the original Dodge Viper RT/10
Refine the original caricature without losing its outrageous design
Raise the benchmark for unmatched performance
Maintain the back-to-basics approach from the original Viper
Preserve the American sports car heritage
The 2003 Viper SRT-10 once again underscores the core philosophies of
the Dodge brand by being the ultimate automotive icon for extreme
performance and extreme attitude.
"Back in 1992, the purpose was to re-orient what the Dodge brand was all
about," said Jim Julow, Vice President - Dodge Motorsports and SRT
Marketing. "We had just come out of a lot of years without any
significant performance-oriented products. We needed to send a message
that we had a new concept - a very historically accurate concept - but
one which had not been seen in America for a long time. We wanted to
come up with something that was so outrageous, so cutting edge, so
purpose built that it said we still had a lot of car nuts around here;
people with the know-how to put the most outrageous street car ever on
"The continuation of the Viper allows us to hatch a whole new line of
performance cars that go across more vehicle types than just two-door
roadsters," continued Julow. "This whole SRT line of vehicles will
aspire to be the Viper of their category."
Improving on a Legend
In creating the next chapter of Dodge
Viper, the goal was also to enhance its unfiltered blend of performance.
As part of the Dodge Viper's complete redesign, more than 100 changes
and improvements have been made to the chassis, brakes, suspension,
tires, engine, transmission, cockpit, electronics and more than a dozen
Yet Viper retains a traditional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout
with a six-speed manual transmission. The commitment was made early on
to use a racing-style chassis including fully independent four-wheel
suspension, wide tires and wheels for maximum grip and massive brakes
for stopping power.
A race-derived two-seat cockpit looks over a highly functional
instrument panel with center-mounted tachometer and a 220 mile-per-hour
speedometer. A traditional push-button starter reinforces the purposeful
layout and race-car inspirations.
A new version of the Viper's four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system,
originally introduced for the 2001 model year, is enhanced for this
With a new bored and stroked aluminum engine block that increases the
Viper's displacement from 488 to 505 cu. in. and pushes its V-10 power
output to 500 horsepower and 525 lb.-ft. of torque, Viper has no equal
on the road.
"For a brand like Dodge, maintaining best-in-class performance claims
are absolutely the most important thing we can do," said Julow. "As a
brand, we must differentiate ourselves based on performance and
driveability in creating a true enthusiast car. We need these proof
points because frankly, not everyone wants to have a 500-horsepower,
two-door convertible. Not everyone necessarily wants to have a
turbocharged, manual transmission small car. Not everybody's looking for
an aluminum block full-size truck.
But they're looking for a brand that's willing to put a little bit extra
into everything it builds, and the proof points for that are the SRT
(Street and Racing Technology) line, which pushes the envelope as far as
On the Outside
With styling cues derived from the Dodge
Viper GTS/R concept car first shown at the 2000 North American
International Auto Show, the all-new 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10 convertible
packs an outrageous new design into a low-slung roadster shell.
Lowered hood lines, swept-back fenders and deep-cut side scallops take
their cues from the classic original, yet bring the Viper into the 21st
century. Improved aerodynamics and a partial undertray add functional
Viper's visceral lines speak volumes of the passion that Dodge designers
bring to their craft. The new Viper gives enthusiasts an American sports
car that remains true to the credo of pure performance.
The new Viper has a new roofline profile with an easy-to-operate drop
top. The Dodge Viper was initially introduced with a full-width sport
bar that brought open-air motoring to the Dodge lineup. The second
chapter of Viper history was written when the GTS Coupe was added in
1996, and added classic gran tourismo styling to match the car's
prodigious performance capabilities.
The new Viper's bi-fold clamshell top with single center latch now makes
it a true convertible, harking back to a time when sports cars delivered
serious performance capabilities and stood for untamed freedom.
For drivers seeking the farthest edge of the performance envelope, Viper
remains nothing less than a streetable supercar - sophisticated yet