Today Chrysler is revealing its 5-year plan, and one of the biggest bombshells so far is that Dodge will produce only 500 more units of the Dodge Viper. But according to Dodge brand chief Ralph Gilles, those 500 will be the most special Vipers ever made. Once they're done, production will end, no later than July, 2010. But that's not the end of the Viper story.

The Viper will be back by summer of 2012, according to Gilles. And best of all, perhaps, is that it will leverage some of Fiat's sportscar DNA. In an oblique reference, Gilles mentioned Fiat's sports car-focused brands--hinting strongly at Ferrari--as providing the basis for the revived Viper. No details or specifics were revealed, however.

As for what shape the final 500 Vipers will take, Dodge will be hard-pressed to top the Viper SRT10 ACR. That car still dominates production-car Nurburgring times with a 7:22.1--three tenths faster than the much newer Corvette ZR1 and ahead of almost all of its rivals.

The same 600-horsepower 8.4-liter V-10 engine is almost a certainty, but an even lighter, more exotic Viper could be in the works. On the flip side, they could go more luxurious with the car, adding an interior that takes the Viper more into the realm of supercar than its current position of street-legal race car.

We'll have to wait and see, but it's certainly some of the most exciting news to come out of Dodge in recent months.