This is the archetypal muscular American sports car, first manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation as a halo car to showcase its ability to create monumental attention-grabbing automobiles. The first Dodge Viper struck venomously in 1992, surviving the DaimlerChrysler merger and Chrysler’s return to American ownership. The fourth generation Viper was launched after the German retreat.
This new Viper had the mandatory V10 engine, this time a modest 8.4 litre job delivering 600 bhp with a little help from British engineering expertise — Formula 1 winners McLaren Automotive and Ricardo Consulting Engineers. The engine was promoted as the main advance from the third generation Viper ZB, for the streamlined appearance of the two-door SRT-10 line introduced in 2003 was little altered. Buyers could still choose between the racy roadster and a crouching coupe with its ‘double-bubble’ roof shape.
However, there were significant changes beneath the Viper’s slinky skin that justified classification as a new generation SRT-10, aka Gen IV. Electrics and the fuel feed system were revised. There was a revamped six-speed manual gearbox. The rear axle acquired a new limited-slip differential that improved tyre adhesion under acceleration. Suspension was tweaked to enhance cornering capability. Ever mindful of image, Dodge even changed the exhaust system to give the Viper ZB a more masterful engine note.
This must surely be the last Viper to occupy a Chrysler stable, as the credit-crunched carmaker fights to survive and perforce lets its halo slip in the process. But at least Chrysler has saved the best for last, for this is a truly great Dodge Viper, with all those fourth generation improvements creating an awesome performance car, especially in race-prepped SR-10 ACR form. Traditional Viper straight-line speed is coupled with cornering ability that leaves German and Italian supercars trailing in its wake on track days . . . and petrolheads drooling.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
8.4 l (510 Cid) V10
Top speed of 202 mph (325 km/h);0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.5 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Automotive engineering group Prodrive handles the importation of Dodge Vipers to the UK and modifies the cars to meet European regulations. They are rebadged as Dodge SRT-10s because the Viper name is already spoken for in the UK.