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Auto blogMon, 07 Jul 2014 11:29:00 EST
You've got to hand it to Dodge for having the gumption to put the original Viper into production in the first place. It was, after all, much more of an emotional decision than a practical one, and a move which saw the first production V10 engine placed in a road car - long before the advent of the Lamborghini Gallardo, Audi R8, Porsche Carrera GT or Lexus LFA, not to mention the other Ford, BMW and Volkswagen Group models that used such engines.
It's now been 22 years since the first Viper entered production and the Viper still rolls on several generations later, but we're sad to say that courageous decision has not always been met with overwhelming sales success. In fact parent Chrysler was forced to idle the Conner Avenue plant where the Viper is made back in April due to slow sales. And while production resumed again as planned on June 23, it apparently didn't do the trick.
As a result, Chrysler corporate communications chief Shawn Morgan revealed to Autoblog that the assembly line has been shut down again for another two weeks. The line was up and running for nearly two full work weeks from June 23 until the holiday weekend that started on Thursday, July 3. But instead of coming back online today as planned, it's been idled again for the weeks of July 7 and 14. That means it will be July 21, at the earliest, before the serpentine supercars start slithering down the assembly line at Conner Avenue again. Once it does, however, production is set to resume at the same pace it was before the shutdown.
The Viper is used to being the most powerful car in the Dodge and SRT stables, but the arrival of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat means that's no longer the case. The serpentine supercar is, however, reportedly getting a small boost in output for 2015, amounting to all of five horsepower.
The increase was uncovered by Road & Track courtesy of the SAE J1349 certification process to which Detroit's Big Three automakers submit themselves and which reports the Viper's output at 645 hp instead of the 640 it was rated at until now. There are a hundred factors that could have contributed to the relatively mild boost in output (best guess? nothing at all changed...), but we doubt anyone's going to complain about some extra horses under the hood.
The five-horsepower boost brings the Viper that much closer to the 650-hp Chevy Corvette Z06, not to mention the 707-hp Hellcat, but the Viper's impressive power-to-weight ratio ought to mean it'll have little problem keeping up in a straight line - which is just one of the reasons why Chrysler won't shoe-horn the Hellcat into the Viper: as R&T points out, the supercharged engine is too heavy and the blower makes it too tall to fit in the Viper's engine bay.
The following is written by auto industry veteran Tow Kowaleski. The words are his own, but the memories now belong to everyone thanks to his willingness to share. If you're an industry veteran with a story to share, contact us at tipsATautoblogDOTcom.
It became the flame that started the fire of belief in the next life of Chrysler.
I just sold a car. Nothing new. Millions do it every day. But my car was a 1995 Dodge Viper, so maybe it was a bit more unique since just 12,000 were built. And like others selling a car that's been a part of the family for close to 20 years, this was a confluence of emotions for me. I was sad to see it go, but happy to have the cash and one less big, shiny, under-utilized object in my life.