It takes quite a bit to get a bunch of jaded members of the automotive media truly excited and I can say that without a doubt the launch of the 2013 SRT Viper flat out electrified the crowd. I have had the privilege of attending quite a few press launches and this is the first and only one I can remember that gave me goose bumps. The new Viper managed to be more than 640 horsepower and 600 ft/lbs of torque, it evoked raw emotion and the embodiment of all that is great about passion for the automobile. Nothing captured it better than Ralph Gilles (President and CEO of Chrysler’s SRT division) moment while pulling the Viper on to the turntable. In the video after the break you can see him dipping his head to clear his eyes.
The 2013 SRT (now a brand unto itself) Viper is instantly recognizable, but has been updated in both looks and technology to make it a halo to a brand in a way that no other marketed car today can match. Take a look at the lead picture of this article, and take a moment to absorb how right this car feels. In person, nothing else in the world manages to package a super car so proportionally correct. Everything has a purpose and yet all the pieces assemble into a profile that is purposeful and elegant. A lot of bad adjectives get thrown around while describing six figure sports cars (I’m as guilty as anyone else), but the only way I can describe the presence of the Viper is to tell you that it vibrates. You almost expect it to draw energy from the things around it, making street lights dim as it passes.
Yes, they needed to keep me away from the stage to keep me from drooling on their newborn. The Viper manages to be more than its numbers, but that does not make those facts and figures any less impressive. Starting with the frame, they managed to make it lighter as well as 50% stronger. SRT then included the front X brace that was developed while racing the prior generation car. Then they attached new ultra-light forged wheels (I believe they said that there will be ten different designs to choose from). Through a new relationship with Pirelli, the wheels will be wrapped in P Zeros that measure 355 in the back. The engine’s displacement remains at 8.4 liters, but has gained 40 ft/lbs of torque that arrive earlier in the curve than before. To put this into perspective, the dry weight (3,143) of the Viper has a power (640 HP) to weight ratio of 4.91 putting it ahead of others in its class like the Lamborghini Aventador and the Corvette ZR1.
The development did not stop with the power train. It appears as if the 2013 Viper will finally have a habitable interior. Inside the new Viper should be quieter as well as much better thermally managed. As a result of their partnership with Ferrari, the seats are the same that you might find in something from Maranello. The instrument cluster is a TFT from the Dart, which may sound bad, but as a result of it being a screen the engineers can perform some fun tricks with the gauges. As Ralph Gilles said, “Other cars have a shift light, we have a shift Viper.” (See the picture, at redline it actually flashes an image of the Viper in the center of the tach) The rest of the interior will be able to be customized far beyond what was possible in the last generation, in an attempt to allow buyers to tailor their car to their tastes.
Think we’re excited about the chance to drive the 2013 SRT Viper? To quote Bob Costas from the movie BASEketball, “You’re excited, feel these nipples!” Again, it isn’t just about the numbers, its about a car that blazes passion and was built by a group of certified fans of the automobile. When you get to this level of car, it comes down to the smallest details that change something fast into something engaging. Little details like the maps of Laguna Seca and the Nürburgring hidden in the rubber that damps items in the storage trays point to the level of obsessiveness that this team put into the new Viper. Much like the original Viper proved that Chrysler could build something attention-grabbing and world-beating, the 2013 SRT Viper represents a hope for the future of a brand on the brink of extinction. Without a doubt, the Viper was the most impressive release at the NYC Show and gets our praise for not leaking early and ruining a wonderful event.