The SRT Viper (formerly the Dodge Viper) owes its existence to two men no longer associated with Chrysler: Carroll Shelby and Bob Lutz. Shelby and Lutz conceived the idea in 1988, partly as an homage to the big-engined, lightweight sports cars of the 1960s (like the Shelby Cobra and the Sunbeam Tiger).
Debuting as a concept at the 1989 North American Auto Show, the Viper was an instant hit, prompting a move towards production. There were plenty of obstacles to overcome along the way, including the weight of the (then) cast-iron V-10, which was re-engineered by partner Lamborghini to be cast in aluminum alloy.
The Viper racked up countless race wins over the years, including victories at Le Mans. It soldiered on through four generations, before financial difficulties almost killed the car (or required the sell-off of the brand) in 2009. In July of 2010, production of the fourth-generation Viper models ended.
At the insistence of Sergio Marchionne, the Viper was kept in the Chrysler family and a new model was launched at this year’s New York Auto Show. The video above goes into a bit more history on the Viper, and we say it’s well worth seven minutes of your time.
As a bonus, we’re throwing in two more recently-released Viper videos as well. The first talks about the Viper’s new den, Chrysler’s Connor Avenue Assembly Plant. It should come as no surprise that the facility doesn’t have an issue with absenteeism, since who wouldn’t to spin wrenches building Vipers for a living?
Finally, the third video is narrated by SRT head Ralph Gilles, who gives a narration of the new Viper’s design. It’s clear to see that Gilles is enthusiastic about the new Viper, which we’ll take as a good sign. If Gilles gives it his stamp of approval, chances are good that we’ll like it, too.