By March 19, 2012 Read More →

Dodge Viper RT/10 Roadster (1992-2002)

Dodge Viper RT10 1999_01It all began as a tiny spark in the minds of a few dedicated car enthusiasts at the former Chrysler Corporation, and quickly flamed into the shared passion of a group of like-minded individuals which came to be known as Team Viper. Foremost in the minds of Team Viper’s first members was the idea that a truly legendary automobile could only be created by eliminating virtually all extraneous considerations. The most important thing was to move one or two persons as quickly as possible and with as much raw performance as the driver could draw from a powerful engine and a responsive chassis. They believed Viper’s body should recapture the essence of classic sports car design in a truly modern idiom. It had to tightly encompass a hardware package that would include huge tires and wheels, a powerful V10 engine and a simple, yet spacious two-seat interior.

With these ideas in mind, a one-of-a-kind Viper RT/10 show car was designed and engineered at Chrysler Corporation’s Advanced Styling Studio. It first appeared to the public on January 4, 1989 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, with the goal of testing public reaction to the concept of a back-to-basics, high-performance, limited-production sports car. The reaction was overwhelming to say the least. Orders began to flow in even before the show was over. Chrysler Corporation immediately decided to determine the production feasibility of transforming the crowd-pleasing Viper RT/10 show car into a limited-production sports car in no more than three years.

Once the initial idea had been accepted, the decision was made to develop the Viper RT/10 using a platform team concept. The result was an independent group which existed within Chrysler Corporation, establishing its own mission and creating its own supplier base. The team leader sifted through scores of volunteers – Chrysler engineers, designers and managers – in search of a select few self-admitted car fanatics who would do whatever was necessary to create and produce a very special high-performance sports car. Operating in its own highly secured area of a major corporate engineering center, Team Viper began three years of intensive, often around-the-clock operations. Their activities stretched from Italy – where the aluminum engine block was perfected – to the race tracks at Nelson Ledges and Road Atlanta – where they fine-tuned Viper RT/10’s unique high-performance chassis and powertrain.

Team members worked closely with major automotive suppliers to develop unique components for the Viper RT/10 which would not only withstand the tremendous stresses associated with high-performance driving, but also enhance Viper’s considerable performance capabilities. Chassis prototypes, or “mules,” were developed to study vehicle dynamics. Within a year of Viper’s auto show appearance, a V8-powered mule was being tested. A few months later, a stablemate powered by a cast iron V10 joined the test fleet. In May of 1990, after months of intensive study and testing, Chrysler Corporation announced that the Viper, now powered by the aluminum V10 was a “go.” In May of 1991, the Dodge Viper RT/10 performed as the official Pace Car of the 75th Indianapolis 500, further fanning the flames of public interest. Finally, in December of 1991, the first red Dodge Viper RT/10 production cars rolled off the New Mack Avenue assembly line – two years after the concept car’s 1989 auto show triumph.

In January of 1992, a production version of the Dodge Viper was shown to the public at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. In April that year, a prototype was donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. In 1993, black was offered as a second color option. “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno bought the first one. Bright yellow and emerald green were added to the mix in 1994. Viper production moved in November 1995 to the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant.

The RT/10 was joined by the Viper GTS Coupe in 1996. The Roadster was designed for the aggressive, wind-in-the-hair driver. The GTS Coupe was given the same capacity to exhilarate the senses, but in a more refined manner. The goal was to do more than just add a roof to the Viper. The goal was to create the GTS in the mold of the world’s premier Grand Touring cars. While the GTS and the RT/10 look much alike, more than 90 percent of the Coupe was new. Every major part was subjected to scrutiny with telling effect: the GTS with air conditioning weighed nearly 100 pounds less than the 1994 RT/10 without air conditioning. Significant changes, introduced on the 1996 Coupe and carried over to the Roadster, reduced weight by 200 pounds. These included an all-aluminum suspension system and re-engineered frame. Other weight reductions were distributed throughout the car.

The original Dodge Viper RT/10 Roadster stayed in the production until 2002. It was replaced by the Dodge Viper SRT10.