It is not a car that sells here in Australia, but the hand-built Dodge SRT Viper muscle car is nevertheless one that gets local pulses racing even from afar.
The same story applies in its home market of the United States, however romantic appeal does not always translate to strong sales, especially if the price is not right.
So dire are the sales, according to US motoring industry bible Automotive News, that some Chrysler Group dealers have been jokingly referring to the car as the “Vedsel” in reference to Ford’s disastrous Edsel of the late 1950s.
You know when you can’t sell a massive muscle car in the US, a market that continues to recover post-GFC with its strongest automotive sales in years, then times are a’changing.
In response, Dodge has slashed the price of the Viper by $US15,000, and will also in addition offer $15,000 coupons to recent Gen 5 Viper buyers to trade in their 2013 or 2014 model for a new one, or to add to their collection.
That’s right: $30k off a Viper BEFORE you even haggle.
As such, the Viper now sells for $84,990 excluding on-roads costs and what Chrysler itself calls “gas guzzler tax” (EDIT: the US Energy Tax Act officially calls it this, it is not a Dodge colloquialism as previously stated by the author).
It will open Viper sales to all Dodge dealers. When it first re-launched, the Viper was also sold as an SRT model (short for Street and Racing Technologies). But this has been ditched in favour of the better-known Dodge nameplate.
For MY15, it will introduce a new better-specced GT version for $94,995, and will slash the TA and GTS to $100,995 and $107,995 apiece. When adjusted for inflation, the Gen 1 Viper from 1992 would cost about the same.
“The Gen 1 Viper had 400 horsepower (298kW),” said president and CEO of Dodge and SRT Tim Kuniskis. “It didn’t have air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, traction control or stability control. It didn’t even have real windows. It was the purest, rawest and most visceral American performance car of its time.
“The Gen 5 Viper maintains the purity of the original car, with its seductive design, perfect weight balance and all-aluminum V10 with an additional 245 horsepower (183kW). But the rawness has been tamed with state-of-the-art five-mode ESC, two-mode suspension, ABS, traction control, launch control and a lightweight structure comprised of carbon-fibre, magnesium and aluminium.
“Despite the Gen 5’s massive leap forward in technology and performance, we’re pulling its starting price back to the equivalent of the original Gen 1 car.”