The Truth About Cars » Viper The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:19:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Viper Viper Production Sidelined For Two Months Due To Slow Sales Wed, 19 Mar 2014 09:15:53 +0000 anodized-carbon-srt-viper-la-auto-show-04

Due to slow sales, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will halt production of the SRT Viper for the next two months, with 91 hourly workers temporarily booted to the unemployment line.

Automotive News reports the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit will go into hibernation beginning April 14, with production to resume June 23.

Speaking of 91, that was the number of Vipers sold in the United States between January and February of this year, with a 412-day supply of 756 unsold vehicles as of March 1.

Factors leading to the temporary shutdown include unseasonably cold weather, and the habit of dealers keeping the doors locked on the exotic car, hindering sales. SRT brand head Ralph Giles aims to change the latter through a factory team tour of the U.S. already underway in the South, allowing customers to take the Viper for a test-drive. The tour will expand north once warmer weather arrives.

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2013 SRT Viper Banking On 90′s Nostalgia Fri, 17 Aug 2012 15:05:25 +0000

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.

The 2013 SRT Viper looks a hell of a lot like the first Viper GTS Coupe, launched back in 1996. I doubt that this is a mere coincidence. The blue/white paint is basically the only thing separating this car from the standard Vipers. Somewhere deep inside, my inner 8 year old can barely contain himself.

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This Is Your 2013 Viper On Drugs Tue, 31 Jan 2012 06:35:10 +0000

“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 …”

On its driveSRT Facebook page, Chrysler asked Facebook users for virtual petting: “Like” the driveSRT page at least 10,000 times, and Chrysler will show you a picture of the next Viper.

On Monday evening, the Facebook page had 12,000 likes. Chrysler had to ante up. At midnight, hyperventilating Viper-aficionados were given the picture above.

See, that`s what you get when you hang out with bar girls.

According to AN, Chrysler is restarting its shuttered Conner Avenue Assembly plant to build the Viper later this year as a 2013 model. Production of the previous Viper ended in 2010.

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Dodge Brand Phase-Out Watch: There Will Be No Dodge Viper Tue, 27 Dec 2011 19:08:52 +0000

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.

Chrysler Group insists that the branding shift has nothing, NOTHING, to do with any elimination of the Dodge brand. In the words of a Chrysler Group spokesman,

SRT is the high-performance end of the company. The whole brand philosophy and the branding separation between Dodge and SRT will evolve over time. This is kind of that first step establishing what SRT means to the company and what that car means to the brand.

The other side of the company’s argument: the Dodge brand has “baggage” in some global markets, and by branding it as an SRT, the Viper can have a unified global brand and be sold (theoretically) at Alfa and Maserati stores. On the downside, these kinds of sleight-of-brand moves don’t tend to fool anybody, and more to the point, how many consumers know anything about the SRT “brand”? But all that aside, the mere existence of an SRT brand seems to trade off directly with Dodge’s continued success. After all, without trucks or performance halos, what exactly is Dodge again? And with Dodge’s post-Fiat-takeover brand boss Ralph Gilles jumping from Dodge to SRT, it seems that the corporate winds are blowing the once-proud Dodge brand towards oblivion. Perhaps Alfa will ultimately prove to be the more compelling performance brand, but in the short term, Fiat-Chrysler seems to be trading in one potentially strong brand for two relative unknowns.

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Who Wants In On The 2013 Viper? Anyone? Bueller? Wed, 29 Jun 2011 15:23:41 +0000

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…

Today’s reading is from the First Book of Lutz (“Guts”), Part One, Chapter 3: “We Just Did It”: The Story of the Viper.

Our other problems concerned suppliers. The Viper program proved to be our first experiment in having suppliers do the core engineering for a new model’s components. Curiously, it wasn’t that tough a goal to reach for those suppliers who’d already agreed to sign on. Most of Chrysler’s suppliers had caught Viper fever and wanted to participate. (The fact that many of their CEOs lusted after having their own Viper probably didn’t hurt).

But some of our most trusted partners simply refused to join, contending that the low volume didn’t justify the effort. From a narrowly left-brained viewpoint, they were right. Had they engaged their whole brain, however, and considered the project’s total benefits, most, I suspect would have chosen differently. A German supplier whom we had asked to produce the Viper’s new six-speed transmission really let us down. When we were already well into the program (and when it seemed to late to change something as fundamental as the transmission) he told us the deal was off unless could cough up several million dollars not previously discussed (and not available in our budget).

What to do? Knuckle under to prevent delay? Or tell the supplier “Thank you; it’s been semi-nice working with you, but forget it”? Bravely, the team picked the latter course. Working quickly and creatively they found a excellent alternative in the all-new Borg-Warner T-6 transmission, which was then under development fir GM’s Camaro, Firebird and Corvette models. Viper remained on track, while the German transmission company won an empty victory: To achieve a trivial savings, they sacrificed their opportunity to become a supplier for Chrysler’s more mainstream products and, more importantly, the unquantifiable but undeniable luster they would have enjoyed from being associated with, perhaps, the most publicized car in modern times.

What’s the lesson? Bringing suppliers on board a low-volume project like Viper requires holding “more mainstream product” business over the suppliers head, but even more, relying on “Viper fever” to inspire suppliers to become part of the project. Lutz doesn’t just identify the “luster” from being associated with Viper, but even goes as far as to point out that suppliers may have participated simply because they wanted a Viper of their own. To Lutz, the product guy, this is simply testament to the visceral power of a highly emotional car. To the purchasing and supply chain managers, however, this emotional basis for a business deal is hardly a sustainable state of affairs. Not only does it have the potential to challenge the financial stability of supplier firms with already low margins, but it also makes the supply chain dependent on the hype generated by the vhicle.

And that seems to have been the problem this time around: though the new Viper will doubtless be an impressive machine, there is no way it could even hope to make the kind of splash that the original did. As a car, the Viper has improved with age… as an idea, however, the Viper is getting stale. Are there still supplier bosses who are participating in the project simply because they want a 2013 Viper of their own? Very possibly, but “Viper fever” as it existed back 1989 isn’t going to keep a low-volume project running. The implication of this supplier trouble: the new Viper could well become an even bigger money loser than before. After all, enthusiasm and industry have always been turbulent bed-mates.

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Alfa Zagato TZ3: The Alfa-Viper Connection Tue, 03 May 2011 14:39:36 +0000

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?

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2012 Dodge Viper: Ideal Versus Reality Fri, 17 Sep 2010 15:17:47 +0000

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.

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Is Chrysler Lying About Viper Buyers? Wed, 04 Feb 2009 16:05:41 +0000

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:

When the announcement was initially made that the automaker was considering offloading Viper as a brand, the prevailing thought was that the move could save the car from extinction. Now, the tables have turned and it’s generally acknowledged that Viper’s sale may actually help save its struggling parent company. The income from selling the sportscar unit could help bolster the report due to Congress by the end of March regarding Chrysler’s long-term viability, but the automaker doesn’t expect to have anything finalized by D-day.

Coincidence? I THINK NOT. How easy is it to say “we’ve got three buyers lined up?” “We’re doing due diligence,” Jim Press said in yesterday’s conference call. I would love to see the bona fides of these potential Viper builders. But then it’s not like I loaned Chrysler $7b. . . .

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