FCA design chief 'hopes' to revive Dodge Viper
A resurrected Viper would have to feature some type of big technical innovation.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles design chief Ralph Gilles is apparently pushing for the Dodge Viper to be brought back from retirement.
Answering a caller's question in an Autoline After Hours interview, Gilles admitted he is frequently asked if the company will ever bring back the iconic car.
"In my lifetime I surely hope so," he said, though he cautioned that the company must make a unique business case and adopt "a different technology" to justify such a plan.
"It will have to celebrate another step-function," the design chief added. "A new thing in technology."
Rumors circulating last year claimed FCA was preparing to reveal a new Viper built upon a lightweight spaceframe chassis, dropping the iconic V10 engine in favor of a naturally-aspirated V8 with 550 to 700 horsepower depending on the configuration. The coupe was expected to keep its front-mid-engined layout.
Gilles comments suggest the modernized Viper project may have been mothballed, perhaps because a lightweight V8 edition was not quite different enough from the original. FCA is presumably paying close attention to the new Chevrolet Corvette to see if the switch to a mid-engine layout and adding hybrid variants will drive significant sales gains.
The rumors of a new Viper debut surfaced ahead of an industry shift as automakers began to rethink their product roadmap to funnel a larger share of funds into electrification. In many cases, companies apparently killed plans for certain internal-combustion vehicles that were already under development. With potential sales of just a few thousands units, a revived Viper may have been an obvious project to drop in the near term.
Former FCA chief Sergio Marchionne in 2016 indicated that a new version of the Viper "may surface," though he cautioned that timing was unclear. The executive noted that the discontinued Viper's exclusive platform architecture is unacceptable for a future model. Alfa Romeo's Giorgio platform is the top candidate for FCA's next-generation rear-wheel-drive models, including the Challenger, but would presumably preclude a V10 if the new Viper is built upon the same architecture.
Current FCA CEO Mike Manley has indicated that even the supercharged 700-horsepower Hellcat engine won't be part of the "American muscle" formula going forward, further eroding the V10's chance of survival. Resurrecting the Viper with a twin-turbo V6 would likely be viewed as even more blasphemous than a V8, even if hybrid technology made the downsized powertrain superior in terms of overall power output.