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 wanted 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 an 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 powered by an 8.4-liter V10 engoine 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.
Since 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.
One of the biggest specific details in the rumors of a new Dodge Viper that swirled around the auto industry in May of 2018 was the likelihood of an official announcement at the January 2019 Detroit auto show. It was the 30thanniversary of the debut of the Viper concept, after all, so what better time and place to make a real announcement and get people excited? After Car and Driver published their big reveal, including the details about a possible announcement in Detroit, pretty much everyone (including us) ran with that juicy detail.
And who can blame us? It makes for good reading. Plus, the rumors of the new Dodge Viper were terribly short on specific details to actually tie ourselves to in any way. I mean sure, there’s the idea that it will have a V8 instead of the classic V10, but that’s more conjecture than anything specific – and guesswork educated by Dodge’s trend with the Challenger. So we looked at the most fascinating and exciting detail in the rumor: a big reveal at a legendary auto show.
Now here we are, the auto show has happened, and as you probably already know, there was a major announcement at the Detroit auto show this January about one of the biggest new sports cars to hit the market. Everyone got excited and headlines all over the internet showcased this beauty on banner after banner to drive clicks and readers to their sites. We all sat agog and looked at this gleaming new car that would get us out there, racing on streets like never before and setting the automotive industry ablaze!
But it wasn’t a 2020 or 2021 Dodge Viper – oh no, the big news for sports car lovers was the reveal of the 2020 Toyota Supra. Sure it’s been hyped for years, teased, leaked, and spoiled by just about every site out there, but we finally got a real look at it. And for most of us, it didn’t disappoint. Even after all the leaks and teasing, now that we finally got a good look at the new Toyota Supra and what it’s bringing to the table – we’re excited.
And what about that big Dodge Viper reveal? Well, it didn’t happen. In fact, Dodge really didn’t make any kind of major reveal or give us anything to chew on. The auto show came and went with all the heat of a winter storm in Detroit and we were left wondering what is to become of the 2020/2021 Dodge Viper we all want to see. Which leads me to…
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.
Sadly, this is where most of the focus should be these days, since there is really no new information at all about a new Dodge Viper release. Some headlines from the initial rumors teased a 2020 or even 2019 release for the exciting new Viper. Obviously, those stories were more than a little generous with their reporting and their vision of what could happen between last May and now.
In other words, don’t expect to see a release of a new Dodge Viper this year. After all, to see a 2019 Dodge Viper, it should’ve been revealed last year – unless Dodge was trying out something wild and showing it on a stage while simultaneously announcing it was available. Obviously, that didn’t happen, so 2019 will pass without the release of an impressive new sports car.
It also means that you shouldn’t expect to see a model year 2020 Dodge Viper – after all, those vehicles are being announced and revealed right now. We all know how this works: the 2020 models will start selling later this year, so you’ve got to announce them early. With no official announcement from Dodge about a 2020 Viper, it’s safe to say you won’t be seeing them this year for the 2020 model year.
That brings us to 2021. There’s something very significant about 2021: in the original story from Car and Driver that got everyone so fired up, the headline read “2021 Dodge Viper: A Motown Legend is Reborn!” And yet, a lot of people ran with this idea that we would get a 2020 or even 2019 model. Where did that come from? Your guess is as good as mine.
My point is that at the end of the day, we should be looking at the original information we got and see what it points us toward. Even that idea that there would be an announcement at the Detroit auto show last month was pure speculation from Car and Driver. I’m sure they wanted it to be true just like the rest of us did, but it was never anything concrete. The 2021 date, however, is something they insist is a real thing, so it’s much more meaningful.
Is Dodge on its way to release a 2021 Viper onto the market and retake an important segment of the sports car customer base? It’s certainly more likely than a 2020 model year release, especially after the complete no-show at this year’s auto show in Detroit. And it would line up with the original story and information released by Car and Driver that got us all so excited in the first place.
Are there are new reports or new plans that might lead us to believe we’ll get that 2021 Dodge Viper we all want? No, not really no. If that sounds excessively negative, it’s because it is. There is nothing concrete to lead us to believe the 2021 Viper is definitely happening. Could it happen? Sure, it’s definitely not beyond the realm of possibility – in fact it could even be plausible. But is there anything solid to hang your hat on at this point?
What’s the Takeaway?
To put it simply: don’t go running out to your local Dodge dealership to pre-order a Viper just yet. Nothing has been confirmed regarding a brand new 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.
Update: It’s now “next year” and the rumors were resoundingly not confirmed, so maybe let that breath out and keep breathing for another year. If you really need a bright spot to cling to and take away from all this it’s this: if there is an official announcement about a 2021 Dodge Viper, you better believe you won’t be able to miss it. Just the rumor of it as a possibility sent us all scrambling, so if/when it becomes a reality, we’ll be here to give you every last possible detail (and maybe a few extra just for good measure).
In the meantime, the other good news is that there is no shortage of other excellent sports cars to choose from these days. There are American classics like the Corvette and Camaro, and of course there’s the Challenger if Dodge is where your heart lies. Now, none of those are a Viper, we understand that. But they’ll get you where you want to go quickly and they’ll make you feel good behind the wheel. In the meantime, feel free to send excited emails and letters to the folks at Dodge to let them know you have your old Viper t-shirt on and you’re ready for the rebirth of an American classic.
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.