At a time when American sports cars had not fully gotten the smell of Malaise out of their cabins, the Dodge Viper arrived on the scene to show that performance cars of the 1990s didn’t have to be boring or rehashes of decade-old designs. The original Viper was certainly rough around the edges, featuring a notoriously budget-grade interior, and was a handful to handle even at a fraction of its performance envelope. But the Viper showed the brand’s potential during a crossroads for American performance cars, which at that point in time was running on fumes from the 1980s, and had largely capitulated to imports from Japan.
It’s also one of those cars that, had it not actually been green-lit for production, we would not bet on being built at the time, especially in the early 1990s given the corporate priorities of the era and its production volume.
A new book out next month will take a look back at the history of the Viper, now with the benefit of three decades of hindsight. And with the Viper out of production for a few years now, perhaps it is time to take stock of just what it has achieved for Chrysler, Dodge, and SRT, but without the rose-tinted glasses.
Written by David Zatz, Dodge Viper will aim to provide an objective look at the model’s history and development, as well as the business decisions behind it and the roads not taken.
“This book covers the transition from a concept to a rough and brutal rocket to a world-class supercar, and includes every generation,” the publishing company promises. “The story also tells of the rough times when the entire Viper business could have been sold to the highest bidder, and considers alternative paths the 2013-17 Viper might have taken.”
The book will also look at some of the side projects that the Viper spawned, including concept cars that wanted to use it as a base for other production models. That’s right: Chrysler built not one but two luxury sedan concepts based around Viper mechanicals. And we’re still kind of mad about Chrysler producing neither, even though we got the 300 in name and some of the styling, if not with the Viper’s V10. (Now that we think of it, somebody must have built such a thing at some point in their garage). And let’s not forget the Chrysler Viper, offered in LHD form in the U.K. Free anorak fact right there to impress your family during the holidays.
Dodge Viper the book will powerslide into stores next month from Veloce Publishing, but it’s available for pre-order at the moment with a price of $29.95. Dodge Viper the car, meanwhile, could also be bought for $29.95 on eBay, but in 1:18 form.
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