The Dodge Viper has always been more than just a car. To enthusiasts, it represents the purest expression of free-spirited driving. For a re-emerging Chrysler Corporation, it heralded a new way of doing business, taking chances and stepping over the edge. To the industry, it served as a wake-up call that the Dodge brand would be the catalyst for change in automotive design throughout the 1990s.
Beneath its iconic imagery, the Dodge Viper has backed up its reputation with cold, hard numbers – horsepower, torque, 0-60 mph, ¼-mile, slalom, skid pad and top speed. Unlike the pseudo-sports cars, at Dodge, slick copy has never been a replacement for raw performance.
So when it came to writing the third chapter in the remarkable story of America's ultimate sports car, Dodge once again defied convention and built the all-new 2003 Viper lighter, faster and more powerful than ever.
This chapter's subhead echoes the enthusiast mantra:
There's No Replacement for Cubic Displacement
"When we introduced the first Viper, we set the principles that would forever define the car -- obscene performance, outrageous design and ultimate driver enjoyment," said Jim Julow, Vice President, Dodge Global Brand Center. "With this next chapter, we"ve stayed true to those principles in creating the next version of the ultimate American sports car." The next chapter of Viper takes extreme performance further than Dodge has ever taken it before, reaching a Holy Grail of sorts for those worshiping the religion of extreme automotive performance. The Dodge Viper will become the only production car in the world to develop at least 500 horsepower, 500 lb.-ft of torque and feature an engine with more than 500 cubic-inches of displacement.
"When you want to increase the capability of a high-performance car, there are three basic areas you can change: increase the power, reduce the weight or improve the handling," said Larry Lyons, Vice President, Small Car Platform Engineering for DaimlerChrysler. "For the new Viper, we did all three."
The Viper once again underscores the core philosophies of the Dodge brand by being the ultimate automotive icon for extreme performance and extreme attitude. 500/500/500 Performance
Bring back the big blocks!
With performance upgrades that will increase its displacement from 488 to 505 cu. in. and push its V-10 power output to a whopping 500 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque, Viper has no equal on the road.
The 8.3-liter all-aluminum big-block engine drives wide 19-inch rear wheels and anchors a performance package that eschews technical gimmickry in favor of traditional engineering virtues. The spirit of America's muscle cars lives within the Dodge Viper. Race-bred Chassis
In creating the next chapter of Dodge Viper, the mission was to enhance its unfiltered blend of performance.
Viper retains a traditional front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout with six-speed manual transmission. The commitment was made early on to use a racing-style chassis including fully independent four-wheel suspension, wide tires and wheels for maximum grip and massive brakes for stopping power.
A new version of the Viper's four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system, originally introduced for the 2001 model year, will be enhanced on this next-generation car. Body by Dodge
With styling cues derived from the Dodge Viper GTS/R concept car first shown at the 2000 North American International Auto Show, the all-new 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10 convertible packs an outrageous new design into a low-slung roadster shell.
Lowered hood lines, swept-back fenders and deep-cut side scallops take their cues from the classic original, yet bring the Viper into the 21st century. Improved aerodynamics and a partial undertray add functional performance enhancements.
Viper's visceral lines speak volumes of the passion that Dodge designers bring to their craft. The new Viper gives enthusiasts an American sports car that remains true to the credo of pure performance. Interior Fits Drivers Like a Glove
The next chapter of Dodge Viper continues to set the definition of extreme, yet features greater levels of refinement and finish.
Viper retains its essence -- its Viperness --while taking natural steps forward. A race-derived two-seat cockpit looks over a highly functional instrument panel with center-mounted tachometer and a 220 mile-per-hour speedometer, giving a clue as to the production car's top-speed potential. A traditional push-button starter refires old-time sports car memories.
There's no mistaking that the driver is in command at Viper's helm. Viper is the automotive equivalent of a jet fighter, and at the pilot's control, launches off the line like a Hornet off a carrier catapult. Viper Redefines the Convertible
The new Viper has a new roofline profile with an easy-to-operate drop top. The Dodge Viper was initially introduced with a full-width sport bar that brought open-air motoring to the Dodge lineup. The second chapter of Viper history was written when an all-new GTS Coupe was added in 1996, and added classic gran tourismo styling to match the car's prodigious performance capabilities.
The new Viper's bi-fold clamshell top with single center latch now makes it a true convertible, and harks back to a time when sports cars delivered serious performance capabilities and stood for untamed freedom. True to the Mission
Team Viper set out five goals in creating the next generation car:
- Preserve Viper's standing as the ultimate American sports car
- Build a true convertible version that provides better convenience yet retains the original roadster feel
- Refine the original shape without losing it's "outrageous design"
- Raise the benchmark for "unmatched performance"
- Maintain the back-to-basics approach from the original Viper
"With its dramatic styling, 500/500/500 performance and modern racing legacy, the Dodge Viper is unlike any other car on the road and expresses a style and attitude only Dodge could deliver," Julow said. "Viper has earned the title of Ultimate American Sports Car."
The Dodge Viper will go on sale in September 2002 as a 2003 model. It will be built at DaimlerChrysler's Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit, Michigan. 2003 DODGE VIPER SRT-10 TECHNICAL DETAILS
The 2003 SRT-10 retains Viper's front-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-seat layout. A true convertible model replaces roadster and coupe offerings. Its wheelbase has been lengthened 2.6 inches to accommodate convertible top stowage.
Dramatic styling cues include lowered hood lines, swept-back fenders and deep-cut side scallops, reminiscent of the original, yet giving the Viper a fresh look. Inside, from a race-derived, two-seat cockpit, the driver looks over a highly functional instrument panel with a center-mounted tachometer and a 220-mph speedometer. A traditional pushbutton starter refires old-time sports car memories.
The Viper V-10 engine retains the basic architecture of its predecessor, but otherwise it is virtually all new -- and more powerful than ever. A new bored and stroked engine block increases the Viper's displacement from 488 to 505 cu. in. and sends its power output to 500, with 525 lb.-ft. of torque -- 90 percent of which is delivered between 1500 and 5600 rpm.
Viper's four-wheel independent aluminum suspension has been revised to handling characteristics, and a new version of Viper's four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system is enhanced for world-class stopping performance. The new Viper rides on P275/35ZR18 front and P345/30ZR19 rear black sidewall Michelin zero pressure (ZP) tires, with low-pressure sensors in the valve stems.
Reduced weight -- along with increased power -- is one of the two most effective means by which a car's performance can be enhanced. Overall, the SRT-10 weighs approximately 100 pounds less than previous models. Numerous weight-saving measures were taken, including use of a one-piece magnesium front of dash, a cast magnesium instrument panel substructure, and aluminum bodied shock absorbers.