Got outta Dodge

2013 SRT ViperSorry, I couldn’t resist. It’s true though. Viper is no longer a part of Dodge’s product portfolio. It hasn’t been since 2010 and now falls under Chrysler Group’s recently formed SRT brand. It was a painful break, but the healing’s begun.

Is Viper being treated well in its new habitat? (Did I just ask myself a question? Dang, I did it again.) This car’s new set of scales and record-setting power make a convincing case that there have been no compromises. It’s improved to the point of making the last Viper look sort of, well, low-rent. Relatively speaking, of course.

Welcome back!
If you’re not a committed auto enthusiast, you may not have noticed Viper missing from the scene over the past couple of years. If that’s describing you, don’t read too much into it. After all, Viper has always been a rare breed.

As a matter of fact, it’s not the first time Viper took a break from production. There was no 2007 model either. It sort of harkens back to when one of Viper’s rivals-since-conception, the Corvette, was conspicuously absent for 1983.

2013 SRT Viper front three-qtr

To the delight of this auto nut, it seems the beauty rest (since July 1, 2010) did Viper some good. No denigration intended toward the prior generation. It’s just that this new one has the look of an exotic amongst exotics, if that makes any sense.

Spanning Viper’s first- and second-generations, the original design came out in 1992 and ran through 2002. In my opinion, that design is timeless and there is still little I would want to change.

1992 and 2003 Dodge Vipers

The second design ran from 2003 to 2010, also lasting two generations. To me, that series had a mass-production look to it. The dimensions and performance were there but the visual passion had given way to cold, calculated lines.

2013 SRT Viper rear three-qtrThis 2013 fifth-generation Viper looks positively exclusive. And while there were plenty of calculations behind those curves, they’re not so cold anymore.

More than seductive looks, Viper is constructed of some high-end materials. The forward-hinged hood (reportedly so to appease purists) is constructed of carbon-fiber and includes a 9-inch by 2-inch scoop which directs air, separately from radiator-cooling air, into the engine. The temperature of the incoming air is only 10 degrees above ambient, on average. The cooler air is, the denser it becomes. Denser air means more air. More air contributes to more power.

2013 SRT Viper frontForward lighting consists of dual-function, bi-xenon projector headlamps packaged with light-emitting diode (LED) daytime running lamps. LED turn signals complete the “snake eye” configuration.

More air ducts are located within the lower grille which channel cooling air to the front brake rotors and Brembo calipers. The ducts are painted body color on standard models and high-gloss black on the higher-performance GTS model.

2013 SRT Viper electronic-solenoid-switch door handleMoving rearward, like the hood the roof is constructed of lightweight carbon fiber material while, further reducing weight, the door panels are made of aluminum. For 2013, Viper’s door-release handles are electronic-solenoid-switch activated (meaning, they respond to touch).

Cool air ducting for the rear brakes is located in the B-pillars (the area behind the door windows). According to SRT, the feature is not only functional but it helped to visually stretch the roof. The ducting is integrated into the bodywork and comes finished in black or, optionally, carbon fiber. Once the air enters the ducts, it is routed downward and then over the rear rotors and calipers.
2013 SRT Viper rear

At the rear, the decklid is also made from carbon fiber and proudly wears the newest rendition of Viper’s logo, called Stryker.” The logo doubles as the car’s third brake light.

Stop lamps and turn signals are integrated into single units on each side that contain 50 LEDs a piece. The taillight lenses are finished with a snakeskin texture.

Rear “exhauster ports,” located just beneath the tail lamps extract air from beneath the car and out the rear wheelhouse to relieve pressure buildup. The rear diffuser was designed to optimize rear downforce and drag.

2013 SRT Viper exhaustThose familiar with Viper, will find historic continuity in the fact that there are no exhaust outlets on Viper’s rear. They are right where they were intended to be: sill-mounted, just ahead of the rear wheels. The outlets are finished in cast aluminum.

Continued on page 2, below.

Pages: 1 2 3 4