A few days ago, I heard Nirvana’s “Come as you are” on a classic rock station. It’s hard to think of a grune song as qualifying for “classic” status, but we are creeping up on nearly 20 years of Nirvana. On the car front, there’s already been a re-issue of the Mustang 5.0, and now the Mopar folks are taking a similar path.
“Chrysler Group has elevated the art of the striptease to a new level with the release of its first official image of the next-generation SRT Viper,” claims Automotive News [sub] . Not just the art of the striptease. Also the fine art practiced by the bar maiden who purrs into your pricked ear: “If you come here more often, then maybe …” (Read More…)
Once upon a time, the Dodge brand was brimming with pride. In the mid-to-late 1990s, Dodge had it all: affordable compacts, big front-drive cruisers, the hottest trucks on the market, and of course, the Viper. And when the times were good, all of those part melded into one brash, exciting, quintessentially American brand. From Neons and Intrepids, from Rams to Vipers, Dodge could do it all, as long as “it all” included a healthy dash of in-your-face attitude. But over the years, as Dodge’s shining moment faded into memory, the brand has managed to become both less viscerally appealing and less well-rounded. And when Fiat’s leadership stripped Dodge of the Ram “brand,” shucked its designs of their truckish cues, and repositioned Dodge as a more “youthful” and “refined” sporting brand, it seemed as if Dodge as we knew it was dying. Since hearing of Fiat’s plans to bring Alfa stateside, and with Dodge appearing to have lost out in brand alignment product battles, we’ve been wondering for some time now if Dodge isn’t headed out to pasture. Now there’s even more evidence that Dodge is being hollowed out en route to replacement with Alfa, as Automotive News [sub] reports
Absent from the redesigned SRT Viper will be the name Dodge… Viper has been linked to Dodge since the Dodge Viper RT/10 concept debuted in 1989. The first Dodge Viper SRT-10 went on sale in 1992, and over the years 28,056 Vipers were produced, according to Chrysler.
Not any more. Essentially, SRT becomes a brand with its own vehicle, in this case the SRT Viper.
That’s right, Dodge won’t have a Viper or a Ram (or, more prosaically, an Avenger or Caravan). Some might argue that, absent these components, the Dodge name doesn’t mean much of anything anymore. Certainly it doesn’t seem that Dodge can have a particularly bright future without any links to its last moment of glory.
With a new Viper being readied for a 2012 auto show debut ahead of a 2013 launch, Automotive News [sub]‘s Rick Kranz has discovered something of an issue in the development process: suppliers don’t want in.
Ralph Gilles, who heads Chrysler Group’s design organization and SRT, the automaker’s performance group, says many suppliers said “thanks, but no thanks” when the automaker knocked on their doors.
“It has been tough to get low-volume suppliers,” Gilles says. “We have had a few hiccups here and there as we get suppliers. That type of fringe business has really dwindled. A lot of people are looking for big accounts now, but now that is behind us.”
Kranz blames low volume (2,103 units in its best year, 392 units last year) and supplier consolidation for the “hiccups.” But as it so happens, this has been a recurring problem for the Viper since day one…
Zagato’s 100 year birthday present to Alfa Romeo, the TZ3 Corsa, was originally designed around the Alfa 8C’s running gear. So when Sergio Marchionne started showing dealers a new Viper prototype that “resembled the 8C,” I suggested that the TZ3 Corsa’s long-nosed, kammback profile made it a good role model for a future Italian-influenced Viper. And now, as if to explore that very possibility, Zagato has come out with a street-going TZ3 Stradale which drops the 8C underpinnings for a Viper ACR chassis and V10. Is this a look at the high-performance future of the Fiat-Chrysler alliance?
When Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne unveiled the 2012 Dodge Viper to dealers at this week’s Florida dealer meeting, he introduced it with the following words [via Automotive News [sub]]
We had been debating this particular nameplate for a long time, and every time I just could not get there. And then one morning the product committee went into the dome and saw it, and we all knew we were in front of something magic, unique. It took less than five minutes for the committee to fund the initiative. Not a negative comment, not a remark, not a single question. And so I leave you with this. The 17th car in the lineup, in select dealers in 2012.
Based on Marchionne’s words as well as dealer reports that the concept “resembled the Alfa 8C Competizione, we’d like to believe that the 2012 Dodge Viper will look something like the recent Zagato Alfa Romeo TZ3 Corsa concept (above). In reality, however, it will probably more closely resemble the image after the jump.
Not buyers of Dodge Vipers per se. Some 127 of them found their way to a Dodge dealer in January, a 74 percent gain from last year’s total. Of course, that may have a little something to do with the fact that A) Dodge dealers are dealing as if their life depends on it (which it does) and B) the chances of buying a new Viper are decreasing by the minute. Especially since Chrysler revealed that it wants to sell the model as a brand to . . . someone. Oh how we laughed! Well, not Autoblog obviously, despite having reported that American tuner Saleen was a suitor (after having reported that Saleen’s busy going belly-up). I mention this not because I’ve been dying to put the boot in to Autoblog ever since my reader-inspired vow of fraternity, but because it raises the obvious question. Is Chrysler lying when it told the MSM that it has three companies interested in buying its Viper tooling and trademarks? (Setting aside the question of whether or not Cerberus has already mortgaged these “assets.”) Here’s AB’s take: