Dodge Viper is an American sports car know for its aggressive muscular design and high performance from powerful V10 engine. Some say, it was inspired by the success of AC Cobra. Well, Carroll Shelby was seriously involved in the first steps of Viper design [especially in RT/10 and GTS].
Plans to make Viper were initiated in late 1988 at Chrysler’s studios. The aim was to produce modern Cobra, so during the next year Viper concept was introduced to public and got lots of positive attention so soon enough Viper concept was directed to start a production vehicle. The development started in 1989 with a a team of 85 engineers. They asked Lamborghini, which was partially owned by Chrysler at that time, to cast some prototype aluminum blocks for their sports car. The blocks were based on Dodge’s V10 truck engine. Even though the first running chassis was powered by V8, the original aim was still kept the same – V10 muscle under the hood. The V10 and official approval from Chrysler came in 1990 and the pre-production car was already ready for Indy 500 races in 1991 and was driven by Carroll Shelby himself.
The later Dodge Viper model took some styling issues from Pete Brock’s Shelby Cobra Daytona – they had similar proportions, but the design was unique for both. It appeared in many TV shoes, video games, movies and music videos in numerous variations.
The First generation: 1992-1995
It took 4 years of incubation to give a birth for the first production Viper snake. The first running prototype was tested in 1989 and the first production vehicle was available in 1992 – the beginning of the 1st Dodge Viper generation. The centerpiece of the snake was, of course, its engine developed with already mentioned Lamborghini. The developers wanted to use 4-valve per cylinders pushrods, but Chrysler declined the idea an the development budget, because they weren’t sure Viper would be successful model. So the original 2-valve per cylinder truck engine design was used. The engine weighted about 323 kg and produced about 400 HP and managed to fit the economy requirements in 12/20 mpg [because of long-gearing which was allowed by the engine itself].
The body had tubular steel design and had fiberglass panels. It lacked exterior door handles, side windows and the roof in order to save weight. Some suspension parts were taken from Dodge Dakota truck and had no traction control, and no anti-lock brakes – just pure power with no supervision. Experts had quite a list of critics but Viper managed to compete 1/4 mile in 12.6 secs at 180 mph [290 km/h]. It was hard to drive at high speeds, but surely entertaining.