The Dodge Viper began as a conversation in February of 1988 between Chrysler’s president, Robert A. Lutz, and the chief of design, Tom Gale. Initially, Lutz wants a sports car with the most top-of-the-line technology stuffed into it. Though the first Viper did take advantage of all the modern technology available, its real beauty was in a straightforward approach to performance. The Viper was released in 1992 after debuting at the 1989 North American International Auto Show. The original Viper used a 8.0 liter V10 engine and the Viper’s aluminum block and head design delivered a stunning 400 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. Along with this impressive level of power, the original Viper could go from zero to 60 MPH in 4.5 seconds and got a top speed of 165 MPH. The Viper underwent numerous upgrades in its following generations, but the economic collapse of 2008 marked the end for the Viper and other luxury vehicles like it. 2010 was the final model year for the Viper, though it did make a brief and exciting comeback in 2013. The revived Viper retained its unique body style and was by an 8.4-liter V10 engine that got 640 horsepower and could go from zero to 60 in only 3.5 seconds. However, it was not to be, and the Viper only lasted until the 2017 model year. Or did it? Don’t rush out to your local Dodge dealership, as nothing has been confirmed yet. However, there are a number of rumors that indicate that the Viper could be returning as soon as 2020, though some reports are saying 2021 or 2019. However, because nothing is confirmed, we’ll run through both sides of the rumor in order to give the story as fair a treatment as possible.
The Positive Rumors
This rumor mill spinning back in May 2018 when an article surfaced supposedly confirming the 2021 Dodge Viper. The article doesn’t seem to offer any solid proof and only asks the reader to trust them that it’s definitely happening.
While Dodge has other performance vehicles like the Hellcat and the Demon, the Viper competes directly with Ford and Chevy’s mid-engine sports car. Not having the Viper leaves a gap in the market that needs to be filled.
Indications are that the Viper will use a spaceframe with independent front and rear suspension. The signature long hood and the engine tucked behind the front axle will also carry over from previous generations of the Viper, supposedly. The body will be constructed from aluminum and carbon fiber to keep the car’s weight as low as possible. Unlike the fifth generation of the Viper, convertibles will be available from the beginning while the coup will come several years down the road.
It has been also rumored that the new Viper will not have a V10 and will instead have an aluminum block V8 engine. They estimate that the first engine will be naturally aspirated and will get somewhere around 550 horsepower to start and that a supercharged version that gets around 700 horsepower will be available later on. Reports seem to indicate that this engine will potentially be paired with a manual transmission in order to set the vehicle apart from an increasingly automatic transmission only market.
The January 2019 auto show in Detroit will mark the 30th anniversary of the Viper, as such, many believe that the Viper will be officially confirmed then as a tribute to the infamous model. Though the hope is that the model gets announced then, it is unlikely that the car would be available to the public any earlier than model year 2021. Additionally, because of the V8 engine, experts estimate that the cost of the sports car could actually sit below six figures.
The Negative Rumors
Although many sources, including Car and Driver, have a lot of specific information about the supposed new Viper, the company has not confirmed anything yet. In fact, if anything, the reports seem to indicate quite the opposite. Shortly after the rumors started abounding about a potential 2020 Dodge Viper, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Sergio Marchionne, denied the rumors about the Viper’s comeback. As if that wasn’t enough the Viper was not mentioned anywhere in the company’s recently released five-year plan.
Marchionne was quoted as saying that the Viper never sold enough, so a comeback just wouldn’t be financially feasible. Likewise, he said that the Viper wouldn’t work with a smaller engine that the reports indicate it has.
The focus of the company with regards to sports cars seems to be in Europe only. The five-year plan includes a completely electric Maserati along with a couple of other ideas and concepts. However, Dodge wasn’t mentioned specifically in this five-year plan, so it’s unclear if this plan can be relied upon with regards to the American brand and its future. However, based on the plan and the statements from the CEO, it seems that the Viper is just a rumor and won’t be revived any time in the next five years.
The kernel of doubt is still there, however, because Car and Driver is typically a trustworthy source and their information was so specific. Only time will tell the truth.
So don’t go running out to your local Dodge dealership just yet. Nothing has been confirmed regarding the 2020 Viper one way or the other. If the style of Viper as described by Car and Driver checks all of your boxes, wait with bated breath to see if the rumors are confirmed next year. Or, if you simply can’t wait, visit your local Dodge dealership today and see what else the company has to offer. While it may not be quite the same as driving a Viper, Dodge does have a lot of other options, even among luxury sports cars, that can get you what you want. You may even be able to find a pre-owned Viper if that is truly what your heart desires. Visit your Dodge dealership today and find out what your options are.