2013 SRT Viper Styling
Draws Cues From the Original
The more things change…
The Viper has returned after a two-year hiatus, this time bearing an SRT badge instead of the old Dodge one, and with more power than ever, but design-wise, one could be forgiven for thinking they were in a kind of time-warp while beholding it.
Packing 640 hp from its signature 8.4l pushrod V10, the car’s developers insist a primary goal was to civilize the car, making it more livable and accessible while preserving its rawness and character, and I’ve no doubt they’ve made great strides in that direction. When considering its competition—the Corvette ZR1, Shelby GT500, various Ferraris and Porsches—its horsepower figure seems barely adequate; it was certainly easier top the supercar mountain when the original 400-hp Viper first exploded onto the scene in all its irreverent glory in the early ’90s. Brute power isn’t enough anymore, so there was little else for the engineers to do except make it more docile.
That being the case, the chassis engineers seem to have charged the stylists with carrying the torch of the Viper’s innate essence. To accomplish this, the designers basically pretended that the previous generation ’03-’10 car never existed and penned a surprisingly cursory update of the original ’96-’02 Viper GTS coupe. Where the ’03-’10 car’s waistline was relatively undramatic, the new car’s flanks plunge in the manner of the original’s. The double-bubble roof and ducktail spoiler have even returned.
And as much as I’d like to criticize Chrysler for designing something so derivative of one of their previous products, I just can’t. See, the original Viper GTS coupe is hands-down one of the best looking American cars ever. It’s extroverted, yes, but all the lines resolve perfectly, whether on the front end, the side or at the rear. It’s a flamboyant, yet cohesive shape, and the new Viper’s stylists were right to recognize near-perfection when they saw it, and try to emulate it. It’s not like it’ll ever be mistaken for anything else.