Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
From the late 1970s to early 1980s, Chrysler
was troubled by recession and bankruptcy. New president Lee Iacocca introduced a radical cost reduction regime, reducing models and reducing platforms - eventually to only one (the boring front-drive K-car platform).
These changes helped Chrysler
return to profitability, but the model lineup was unadventurous and hardly inspired car enthusiasts. Things were about to change, however, when in 1992 Chrysler launched the Viper - a concept car turned production car, a modern muscle car and the only American supercar.
Penned by Chryslers star designer Tom Gale, the Viper was first launched in RT/10 roadster format. The muscular appearance of the car is backed up by a whopping truck sourced V10 pushrod engine, displacing a very truck-like 7990cc. Early cars pumped out 400hp and even more torque. 0-60mph took about 4.6 seconds, earning USA a place in global supercar chart.
Its chassis was made of a tubular steel backbone riding on classic double-wishbones suspension
, while the body work was by made of composite plastics. With big wheels and fat tyres, there was an abundance of grip, if not sufficient traction for its torquey V10. The engine was loud, raw and the gearchanges were truck-like.
Ride quality was hard and refinement low, however people loved all these shortcomings in the same way they loved muscle cars of the 60's. The Viper soon replaced the Corvette as the icon of American sports cars.
In 1996, Chrysler
launched the hardtop GTS version. Amoung the many improvements were a more powerful 450hp engine, stiffer chassis and sharper suspension
tuning thanks to the experience gained from motorsport.