Mercedes SLS really a next-gen Dodge Viper?

During the early stages of development, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG often wore Dodge Viper body parts, and we may have just discovered the reason why.

It's no secret that Chrysler's remaining life was essentially sucked dry by its failed merger with Daimler, but a new report indicates just how much the German automaker leeched off its U.S. partner.

When we first saw mules for Mercedes-Benz' SLS coupe, it was clad in a number of Dodge Viper body types. At the time we thought it was nothing more than Daimler raiding the Chrysler parts bin for scraps, but the SLS-Viper relationship was apparently much deeper than that.

According to Inside Line, the SLS actually started life as the next-generation Dodge Viper. Dodge engineers began work on the next Viper before Mercedes had even dreamed up the gullwing supercar, but the Daimler side of the joint venture became extremely interested in the Dodge project once the SLS was given the green light.

During the early stages of the project, the next Viper and SLS were being developed side-by-side, with Daimler using Dodge's existing development work. However, money soon dried up and DaimlerChrysler pulled the Dodge side off the project, leaving the SLS to soldier on alone.

An all-new Dodge Viper is expected in a few years, but it's doubtful that it will share its underpinnings with its German cousin.

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