By on August 20, 2014

2014 SRT Viper GTSThe raw, wonderfully American, V10-engined Viper is now in its fourth generation and will likely find more buyers in 2014 than at any time in the last six years.

U.S. sales results have been extremely disappointing, however, as this revamped model has failed to attract a meaningful number of buyers in comparison with the relatively recent past.

And in comparison with just about all other vehicles, sports cars or not.

As recently as calendar year 2003, Dodge sold more than 2100 Vipers in America. Viper volume fell consecutively in each of the four following years, but then perked up to 1172 units in 2008, when a new Viper generated 600 horsepower. Only another 1071 were sold in the three following years, before the vehicle all but disappeared for more than a year.

One can’t argue with the fact that the latest Viper doesn’t look dramatically different. Although the new car, known for a while as an SRT and not a Dodge, sits so low and looks so wide and manages to shock with its brashness and boldness, the older models did so, as well. The 2014 Viper doesn’t seem so crazy now that we’re more than two decades removed from the first Viper’s wild arrival.

The Viper’s spec sheet isn’t so terrifying now, either. What’s 640 horsepower when Dodge’s own Hellcat-powered Challenger SRT produces 707; when the Corvette Z06 generates 650? The Viper used to be a car with numbers that sent exotic supercars to the pit lane with tails between legs. Now it’s a ridiculously fast car surrounded by obscenely fast cars.

A true Viper enthusiast will argue the merits of his car’s performance until the cows come home. But that’s not the point. There simply aren’t as many new Viper enthusiasts as there were, because Viper enthusiasts clearly aren’t as enthusiastic about the new Viper.

Only 991 have been sold since the first sale of the new car was reported in February of last year. Cadillac’s ELR is more common. More discouraging is the fact that sales have slowed dramatically. It seemed like nothing when only 226 had been sold through the new vehicle’s first five months. Give them time to ramp it up, let prospective Viper owners make room in their garage, let summer come.

But after peaking at 97 sales in June 2013 – a peak which was matched this April – sales dwindled in each of the next two months. Never were more than 70 sold between August 2013 and March of this year. Year-over-year, Viper volume declined slightly in May, plunged 63% in June, and fell 51% in July.

They stopped building them, because the ones they’d already built weren’t being sold.

Viper sales chartThe unfavourable comparisons aren’t made with the Chevrolet Corvette, a car which is selling at a not-seen-in-years kind of pace. (30,265 Corvettes have been sold in the last ten months. On an annual basis, GM hasn’t achieved a 30K year since 2007.)

No, in a way, the Viper can more easily be likened to the Nissan GT-R. Oh, they’re tremendously different cars, of that there can be no doubt. But they are both $102,000 performance vehicles sold by volume automakers. Nissan sold 1237 GT-Rs in 2013, more than double the volume achieved by the Viper.

Although continuously updated, the GT-R is basically the car which American buyers were first driving home in 2008. Nissan has reported 651 GT-R sales already this year, a number Chrysler dealers will struggle to match with the Viper by year’s end. Since the latest Viper arrived in the first quarter of last year, Nissan has sold more than 100 GT-Rs in a single month on nine different occasions.

FCA won’t build this car forever if it remains unwanted. Long live the Alfa Romeo 4C?

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62 Comments on “The Viper Is Snakebitten...”


  • avatar
    BMWnut

    Perhaps the time for a Viper V8 has arrived, but will a less expensive model be enough to keep the Grim Reaper away from the door?

  • avatar
    raph

    Seems to me the current Viper’s biggest problem is that it broke out of the price segment it needed to be in.

    Low volume aside, I just don’t see 100k of value in the Viper despite its performance. 80-90k seems like where this car should be.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Basically this. You can get similar thrills from a Corvette at a lower price. Fewer people are scared sh1tless driving a Corvette. The lack of an automatic in the Viper limits sales as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      Indeed, and it broke it’s original price-segment in the worst possible way.

      Dated styling, ‘old-school’ technology, lack of refinement, ‘good-enough’ build quality. These are things that fans of American sportscars have put-up with, perhaps even reveled in as a Take-That to snooty Eurocar fans, on the basis of one sterling precept.

      Value-for-Money.

      Always the big selling-point for such cars was fantastic power at an affordable price, the C6 Corvette excelled at this..

      “Oh how boorish. It’s too big, the panel-gaps are too big, the plastics are chincy, it’s too noisy, it’s got cart-springs in the back, it doesn’t have Overhead cams, it’s horsepower is too low for it’s displacMOHMYGOD! IT’S A SIX-LITRE V-8 AND IT ONLY COSTS HOW MUCH? HOLY CHRIST!”

      Since then the Corvette has pushed itself significantly up-market from what it was then, and while it has gone up in price it’s still amazingly reasonable for what it offers to the point that whoever buys a 911 instead of a C7 is either a snob or a madman.. perhaps both.

      Meanwhile, the viper has slouched into six-figures without much fanfare.. or much of anything to justify the new price-point. It’s too expensive to be an ‘American’ sports-car anymore, and at the same time too ‘American’ to justify the price.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “The raw, wonderfully American, V10-engined Viper..”

    Indeed… a victim of the times, I can also see it going extinct in the near future.

    It may be a sales dork now, but I can bet that within a few years of being discontinued, it will become a highly sought collectible car, and well-kept specimens will appear in vintage car shows all over the country.
    It may even be named in a song, or make a cameo on a movie.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    If there’s not 1 or 2 of them at every Dodge dealer’s showroom at any give point, what’s the point? You either do it or you don’t.

    They’re just not clear on the halo concept. 1st,the general pop needs to know new Vipers exists. Print out 12,000 of them and price them until they (somewhat) sell. Say a 500 day supply. You can probably get your hands on a brand new 2012 Corvette.

    Keep throwing them at the auto rags and cars sites like this.

    Then it’s a halo car (loss leader).

  • avatar
    JCK

    Agreed. I remember when Dodge introduced the Viper, and it was a big deal.

    I’m surprised to find that they’re still being made, quite frankly. Over the past few years, I’ve seen a number of Ferraris. But I can’t even remember the last time I saw a Viper.

  • avatar

    Indeed long live the Alfa 4c! Having said that, I’d be sad to see it go. I think the Viper did introduce this over 400 hp car madness and was quite shocking when it did, now not so much. The fact that it never gained traction around the world must be a factor. I know, we had the other day, is discussion the other day, but somehow, “oh, look! Same engine as a Ram”,never went over very well in the ROW. I guess buyers of supercars want some (or a lot of) finesse together with the raw power. Raw power can be had from a number of cars and pickups nowadays.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      Remember 1978, when the fastest new US vehicle was a Dodge “Little Red Wagon” pickup? The more things change, the more they stay the same….

    • 0 avatar
      MK

      Marcello, you’ve said this before but I honestly just can’t see people giving a damn about the supposed “origins” of the engine used. Seriously most people who have 100 grand to drop on a car just don’t know where it came from, but they do notice the interior, the noise, the heat and overall ease of driving the car quickly.
      Vipers used to be about 75k and they competed well at the time, but time has moved on and the competition is much better and much much more enjoyable to live with.

      When I bought my used 911 back in 2004, the guy had a couple of other cars and I asked him which was the most enjoyable and least enjoyable to drive.

      The most? Acura NSX
      The least? Dodge viper

      I sat in it and understand completely, if I didn’t need a 2+2 I’d have a vette rather than a viper. I friggin love that they exist but they’re not for me.

      At 100 grand canyon there are a lot more choices, at 75k you might be able to live with it! Lol

      Same overall problem Cadillac has IMO.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, we live in different countries so our experiences differ. What I can tell you is that here in Brazil, the cohort of European car enthusiasts, especially but not only of a more Teutonic persuasion, will often deride enthusiasts and buyers of Camaros, Corvettes, Mustangs and Vipers exactly because of the pick up origin of the engines. So it does happen. In the US I can believe this is not a problem, but here it is a point of contention.

        But yes, you are right, the interiors don’t get much love, either.

        • 0 avatar
          MK

          You mentioned”European car enthusiasts” and there’s the rub. “car enthusiasts” of any bent are going to deride whatever they perceive as the “weakness” of their non-preferred brand.

          “jap crap” from some, “German junk” from others, “redneck rides” from the other corners all the way down.

          Enthusiasts don’t number high enough to pay the bills and keep the lights on at the auto plant.

          Brazil is definitely a different market than the rest of world, its been several years but last time I was there the driver was more dismissive of the fact that US cars couldn’t switch between gasoline and LPG depending on what was cheaper than anything else.
          I’m still not convinced that high end new car buyers know much of anything about the power plant origins, its more to do with perceived brand prestige/image and the subjective feel from sitting in the vehicle.

          Dodge vipers aren’t going to score well on either of these counts, imo.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The funny thing is that the Viper never had the same engine as the 3/4 and 1-ton pickup trucks. While the cast iron truck engine was pretty much a 360 LA with two cylinders grafted on, Chrysler relied on Lamborghini, which they owned at the time, to develop the dimensionally-similar all-aluminum V10 for the Viper. There was the Ram SRT-10 that actually had the Viper engine, but saying that makes it a truck engine is like saying that the Colombo V12 is a Jeep lump just because of the Jerraris.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Actually, the ELR isn’t more plentiful on the roads; it’s just that the ELR has sold more units this year. The ELR has only 584 lifetime sales through July.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Sounds as though Chrysler is going to supercharge the Viper with the current V-10 to fix the “power” issue.

    And I agree that the price is just too expensive. Drop it below 100K on loaded models and it will sell.

    • 0 avatar
      MarionCobretti

      That’s what the people at Allpar seem to think, per this: https://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2014/08/supercharged-viper

      Perhaps if the Viper were the fastest car…in the world…it might help, but (sadly) I think slapping in the 8-speed ZF might boost sales orders of magnitude more than a boost in power power would.

  • avatar
    fozone

    Confession: I had no idea these were still in production. I’m not the target market, but still… with a new model, you think there would be more fanfare.

    I can’t help but wonder if the Viper is a bit like Harley — determined to stick with their traditional (bomber) target demographic until the last one is six-feet under.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      No need to be ashamed. I see about 1 or 2 Vipers a year, usually a 1st or 2nd generation. I didn’t know they were still in production either. This is where halo cars fail.

    • 0 avatar
      ijbrekke

      Even Harley has evolved: they recently released all-electric prototypes to the press to be reviewed. Most of the articles say they are basically production-ready.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    The Viper is the kind of car TTAC would design as a mainstreamer. I’m not surprised at all that it is failing. It is a Venn diagram intersection of nearly everything that keeps cars from selling. And without the wow factor afforded to it (largely by the long dead Japanese gentlemen’s agreement on horsepower), it’s just got nothing going for it. Great car in isolation but not in today’s high performance, high VALUE market.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    FCA just needs a questionnaire to help people understand whether they are the right demographic for potential purchase of a Viper. An early draft:
    • Are you white, male and born before 1954?
    • Are you a small business owner, preferably of a bar, night club or ‘gentleman’s club’?
    • Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Hair Club for Men?
    • If you removed all the gold chains around your neck, would the contents exceed the weight of all the books currently in your home?
    • Is your waste size >40?
    • Are you divorced? Recently?
    • Do you have any friends who own Corvettes, and a burning desire to “put them in their place”?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Perfect!

      This list applies to 90% of Corvette owners too.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I’m pretty sure he aped the Corvette marketing questionnaire directly from GM.

        I know 3 Viper owners. One is in his 20’s, another in his 30’s and the other is in his 50’s.

        None of the list applies to any of them except:

        • Do you have any friends who own Corvettes, and a burning desire to “put them in their place”?

        That covers all 3 right there.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          Exactly. Jack wrote a piece for this site awhile back to this point. The Corvette is available in configurations ranging from mild to wild. Jack and Jane Doe see a Corvette and think VoGo’s stereotypes apply, regardless of the actual Corvette spec.

          The Viper is not offered in a soft spec. Laypeople may lump Vipers in with the stereotypicaly Corvette crowd, but enthusiasts shouldn’t.

          Link to Jack’s editorial:
          http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/editorial-dont-you-call-that-thing-a-z06/

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            I don’t think we should encourage manufacturers to make cars that don’t sell.

            That said, once the luster of the initial shock wore off the Viper didn’t stand a chance. Base Corvette has 5x the history, 10x the comfort/usability and 90% of the performance at literally half the price. Like danio said, only folks buying Vipers at this point are folks with something to prove.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    It’s just not wow any more, as people have hinted here. It doesn’t have the top numbers or styling like it did in the mid 90s, when it looked so shocking. The Merc SL and Corvette generally look just as cool.

    I find the 90s one actually looks BETTER than this current one, especially in blue with white stripes – my favorite.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      It was a “halo” car when Chrysler only offered minivans and K-car based products on the car side. It was a revelation in 1992. Now that the Vette spanks it at $60K, Viper is just another substitute for a big schlong.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    You’d think for $100K you’d get fog lights thrown in. Are those only on the Longhorn Edition? And are ’90s era projector/cat-eye headlamps mandatory on everything above a Yaris that’s trying to look cool? They’re hideous already.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      So people can drive around with them on looking “cool” all the time?

      The area where the “foglamps” would be is dedicated to brake cooling.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It just looks like a cost-cutting deletion. Fog lights can be flush mounted between radiator and brake cooling inlets. But when dealing with around 1,000 Vipers built per year, that could easily cost Fiat $1,000 per car to engineer, fab and assemble.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          You’d be a fool to drive a Viper in a fog anyway.

          And if you are one of those guys who drives with fogs on 24/7, in a Viper you’d be turning the douchebag factor up to 11.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Then I’d be a fool to drive it at all. Fog happens. Rain happens. The sky can be perfectly clear at home, then boom. Life happens. Weather can creep in while you’re at work or at dinner, etc. Then what? So I guess this couldn’t be my only car?

            But at $100K they should throw in a FREE Fiat 500! Keep the Fog lights!!!

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            I ride a motorcycle and road bike pretty often, so I check the weather pretty often. Weather forecasts are pretty reliable. I can’t remember the last time the forecast said sun, and it rained. So yea, life happens, but not really. There is info out there to prepare.

            Fog lights don’t do anything. I have had 3 cars with them, and I had them in the rainy ass Northeast. A good pair of bixenon projectors is way more useful than foglights.

            And yea, you wouldn’t be a fool to drive it at all, but you’d be a fool to buy one as your only car. It’s a handful on dry pavement and has a lot of issues that kill its daily drivability. And worst of all, it has no foglights… which are apparently a defining qualifier for whether a car is daily drivable. By this logic, maybe you should look into a Lotus 211, or Porsche Boxter Spyder. No roofs, but they do have foglights :)

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I’m supposed to check the radar every time I take off? Or head for home? Am I an airline pilot???

            It’s not a big deal, ’cause I can wire up fog lights like a damn Pro! It’s a shame too, since all the cars I’ve bought in the last 20 years came with them standard.

            I can live without them too, if I had to. But we’re not talking stripper Tacomas here. For $100K, I’d like to get the finished product.

            And they’re not just for fog anymore. I can spot possums and whatnot earlier, coming out of the night.

            At least Tacomas give you the cut-out blanks so added fog lights look stock.

            But so what if an exotic is my only ride? Maybe I only get one spot at my condo. Or the rest of the time I’m being driven in the tour bus. Or Lear Jet. Or limo. Or…

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    If I want MOPAR POWAH, then wouldn’t I buy a Hellcat?

    If I want an American sports car par excellence, wouldn’t I get the top trim Corvette?

    What other possible buyer could there be? There’s no chance of peeling off European or Asian car buyers.

    And, really, since there’s no F/E edge, the buyer of these cars is a over 50 with fun money that gets tired of rowing the gears quickly.

    Don’t they learn? Remember when Bob Lutz did the “return it if you hate it” program, the only Corvettes returned were the manuals returned for automatics, because the romantic notion of a manual met with the pedestrian frustration of bumper-to-bumper traffic or rolling behind a 0.Slow Liter 4-cylinder compliance vehicle from red light to red light because the other traffic can’t get up to speed for the synchronization.

    Put an automatic in it; cut the price 15%.

  • avatar
    319583076

    No matter how much derision you choose to heap upon the car and those responsible for the car (producers and consumers), there really isn’t anything else like it. It is authentic and unapologetic in an era where few things can make claim to one of those attributes, let alone both. I would say that it deserves respect but the fact is – this car commands respect regardless of your opinion.

    I get excited when I see Vipers on the street.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      Maybe you can be Bob Lutz’s personal assistant?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      It’s true, Vipers are a league above all but the best Corvettes. They certainly get more attention and are more exclusive. They’re a lot more compromising too, so they’ll never reach Corvette levels of sales with the current formula.

      • 0 avatar
        bosozoku

        Chevy has positioned the Corvette perfectly. They’re still expensive, but not unobtainably so, and don’t come saddled with the kind of snob factor many of their competitors pride themselves on (cough, Porsche).

        More than anything, Vettes offer a tremendous bang for the buck. And that holds true from the base model for Joe Midlifecrisis, all the way up to the ZR1.

        While Viper is more exclusive (than just about anything this side of a coach-built special) but offers very little not found in a Corvette, or many other models for 1/2 to 2/3 the price. And just thinking about the insurance quote on one would keep me from bothering, I think.

        • 0 avatar
          bomberpete

          “Chevy has positioned the Corvette perfectly. They’re still expensive, but not unobtainably so, and don’t come saddled with the kind of snob factor many of their competitors pride themselves on (cough, Porsche).”

          So basically, they are back to where they were when the C2 was introduced in 1963. Considering how refined and capable the current Vette is, that’s a good thing. Unless you’re either a brand snob or can’t stand the idea that every other hedonist has one.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “It’s true, Vipers are a league above all but the best Corvettes.”

        I don’t know if I’d go that far, Danio – look at the actual performance stats of the C7 and Viper, and you’ll find the Corvette’s SOMEWHAT slower than the Viper, but not by all that much, and the difference would probably not be very perceptible on public roads. You’d probably have to go to a track to really see the differences in each car’s performance envelope.

        However, the C7 is something like $40-50,000 less, depending on options, and it’s far more “livable” as a daily driver than any Viper ever could be. To top it off, the C7 looks FAR more distinctive and stylish to me. I think that with the C7 around, the Viper is a really tough sell at over $100,000.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The Viper is significantly quicker than the Corvettes that cost 40k less. We’re talking a full second in the 1/4 mile acceleration wise, which is a wide gulf when comparing performance cars.

          If you want to step into a Corvette that can match the performance of the Viper, you’ll have to spend Viper money when they become available.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            It’s a “wide gulf” on the track, not so much on the street in everyday driving. Would the second difference in quarter mile really be worth $40-50,000 to a buyer? I don’t think so…and the many compromises you have to make to live with a Viper make the ‘Vette that much more attractive. This probably explains why Vipers aren’t selling – it’s main competition, the Corvette, is a far better car in almost every way, even if it’s a touch slower (and sub-4.0 second 0-60 / low 12 second quarter miles are WICKED fast no matter how you slice it).

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Bad ideas don’t command respect. You are confusing crudeness for rawness, and the Viper is crude, not raw. For the same money as a GTS you can get a 911 GT3, which matches or bests the Viper in every performance metric, and is every bit as raw, but also refined and usable as the Viper is crude.

      Like the GT-R, the Viper would be something to talk about at $60-70K. At $110-130K, they are in the realm of cars that are 90-100% as fast and much more refined. For fcks sake… a Viper GTS costs more than an Aston Martin Vantage V8. Is the Vantage as “raw”? No, but it’s a much better value. When your car offers less for dollar than an Aston Martin it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve spent time in both those cars and the Viper that costs as much as the V8 Vantage is still nicely appointed while being 2 steps above in performance. The Viper is faster than even the V12 verstion of the Aston. Really, they’re hardly comparable as the Astons are much more touring car while the Viper is much more sports focused.

  • avatar
    Prado

    Maybe its just my opinion, but I blame the current styling on the lack of sales. It looks like a racing series car, not a modern exotic or high end sports car. I’d take a new Corvette over this.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    I think part of it is due to the competition, and not just a lack of consumer knowledge as well, though that certainly plays a large part. I was at a Cars and Coffee a couple months ago where somebody had a new Viper. While I haven’t seen all of the competitors in person, but compared to the ones I have seen or been in the Viper seemed to be held together with duct tape comparatively. It looked like a 99% finished very good kit car instead of something that rolled off of a production line, almost flimsy in a way, particularly the hood and hood vents.

    Compared to the European competition, it just isn’t as nice of a place to spend your time, even if you do get an extra 100-200hp over most of them, and I think the vast majority of people spending that amount of money on a car might actually drive it on a near-daily basis, at least except for rain and winter. The Viper just doesn’t lend itself to that.

  • avatar
    Morea

    Racing. Now that Dodge has left NASCAR they need a racing presence if they are to claim any ‘sporting’ pretensions. They have been trying to win Le Mans for the last few years (but not in 2014 when FCA pulled the plug on the SRT Viper effort giving the class win to stable-mate Ferrari). They have also introduced the Challenger in Trans Am racing. In the grand scheme of things the financial losses to FCA from Viper are peanuts.

    [See you all at VIR this weekend.]

  • avatar
    Fred

    If Audi is happy with the numbers the R8 sells then I don’t see the problem. Unless you are one of the suits who banked on the Viper selling in greater numbers.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    The one Viper I’ve been in, at Mid Ohio, was crude, loud (not in a good way) and had massive heat soak from the engine compartment into the cabin. Surely there’s a better way to spend $100K on a performance car?

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    There are many problems with the Viper as a vehicle in today’s market. Some of those problems are part of why I appreciate and want one.

    *Despite constant improvement, they have a history of being demanding and unforgiving. It was almost a meme that they could kill you through their lack of drivers aids. That only appeals to a few.

    *They are basically designed as a track weapon, although they have some marginally softer versions. Much like a z28 is 70k and AC is an option. They aren’t going to fly off the lots.

    *Corvettes are more livable. Vipers only work for showing off and track days.

    *Even if you want one, only some dealers are allowed to sell them.

    That all being said, I’d love a Viper, always wanted a Viper, would be buried in a Viper if I had one and died.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Viper needs to offer an automatic if it wants to continue it’s existence.

    The main target demographic for this car are old white guys with bad knees.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    As someone with the means and desire to buy a car like the viper the problems start with an inability to see one let alone try one.
    The conslusions are therefore drawn from seeing one at a car show and press reports, unrelaible as they are.

    In the flesh on a plinth it looked way smaller than the pics, which is good, but even then I couldnt see the interior.

    My impression of sound clips is that the motor sounds like crap, more of a blare. as opposed to a melody from the italians or a v8 burble from evttes.

    There are too many road tests with pieces falling off.

    Any viper I have ever seen at the track ended up spinning off, while there are no nanies those in the know have told me that rear suspension dynamics are poor. Granted the new version shoudl be much better, but its still essentialy the same car.

    Vipers get a look in because I do love the looks and concept. But with an inability to try one, and the press reposts it doesent really make the cut.

    As the V10 is basicaly an old v8 with 2 extra cyliders I would suggest the following. Make it into a pushrod V12, that is a USP. Find away for people to actualy have the eopportunity to try the car.
    Scrap the ridiculous package ideas, let me order one as I want it, with the bhood suspension seats etc I like, not dictated by some lame package.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    People love to act like the new Corvette sales are so amazing, they are not, they are selling at exactly the same levels they did when the economy was good and they introduced a new model, like now.

    The Viper is supposed to be about exclusivity and bragging rights, hard to sell a car for $130K when your company sells a much more powerful car for half the price. They may as well cancel the car now and get it over with.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Another problem people aren’t really talking about: the looks. A high performance car costing 100 large should be knock-your-socks-off hot to look at (or at least distinctive), and the current Viper simply isn’t. That wasn’t true of the original design, which was polarizing as hell, but also unmistakably its own creature, while the design of the current model is attractive but somewhat generic.

    Put differently: take the badges off a Corvette or a Porsche 911 (or a Nissan GT-R, for that matter) and you know exactly what you’re looking at. Not so with the Viper.

    It’s hard to be a halo car when you can’t tell what car’s under the halo.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      You couldn’t tell it’s a Viper without the badges? If anything, the new car looks too much like the 1996 Viper GTS that went to Europe and made Porsche’s production based racing cars look like stupid neo-classics with their engines in the wrong place. It basically looks like the same old shape with today’s tacky lighting fad grafted on.

      While everyone is going to blame the absence of a hers transmission or use this story as an excuse to pretend some other car is better, I’d say the Viper’s current failure is as much to blame on Fiat’s needle-dicked management for calling it an SRT instead of a Dodge and insisting that it have the worst seats of any car in the 21st century. They may be calling it a Dodge now, but once you’ve poured eau de failure all over a product, merely trying to undo a self-inflicted wound isn’t going to restore its former luster. Viper sales used to be driven by track versions and racing homologation versions. What do they have to offer now? The “exclusive” Time Attack trim package. First feature mentioned on their website? “It’s obvious when you slip into the Dodge Viper SRT® TA, you have moved up to a new level of performance and pleasure. Enjoy orange accent stitching at nearly every touch-point.” Orange accent stitching. Who cares about the adjustable shocks and aero packages of the past when you can have orange accent stitching on nearly every touch-point? Who do they think their customers are? Did they tell their Italian interior decorators that this is a car reserved for people that can shift gears?

      I wonder if it really is an accident that they’re mismanaging the brand so badly. Vipers are so much faster at track days than Ferraris that it isn’t even funny. If the Italians can’t figure out how to match it, they’ll just have to kill it. So they are.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    The Viper deserves to die. There, I said it. Over $100K for something you can barely drive on the street? Give me a break. Given the Hellcat and great mainstream products FCA now has, how is the Viper even a halo anymore, especially when few dealers even have one?

    When it came out, the Viper was a more modern incarnation of the Shelby Cobra. That was 22 years ago. FCA would be wise to pull the plug and start increasing the rarity value of a Viper. Like they say in dating, give her the gift of missing you. I bet even Lutz would agree with me in private.

    The Cobra lasted what, 5 years before safety standards and buyer tastes changed? Didn’t they cost the same or more than Vettes, 911s or E-types? And how many did Ole Shel sell anyway? Very few. That’s why some are worth millions.

    Finally, look at it this way: if the brilliant FCA product planners see the demand coming back, like it did with Camaro or Challenger, they could always do an update. In the meantime, direct the resources to better mass-market passenger cars. Lord knows they need those.

  • avatar
    Neb

    It reminds me, of all things, of the Plymouth Prowler. It looked completely outrageous, but was a performance car only in an Aesthetic sense. So once it had been out for a few years, the newness of the looks faded, and there was no reason to buy one. The Viper was a much stronger car, as it had amazing performance for its era, as well as looking gorgeous. So when the novelty of the looks wore off, it still had the performance. Now, as many other posters here have noted, performance cars have come a long way. You used to be able to count the 400+ horsepower/ less-than-house-money cars on one hand; now, I can’t name all of them off the top of my head. So the shine has gone off the other reason to buy a Viper, as well.

    I suspect, too, that many of the people who were buying Vipers are now looking at Challengers and Chargers. Doubly so now that 700 hp models are out.


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