Dodge unveils Viper SRT10 ACR-X (+video)

December 14th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Dodge Viper ACR-X f

Dodge has just unveiled its newest turn-key race car, the Viper SRT10 ACR-X.

Based on the Viper ACR, the ACR-X is a track-only race car designed to compete in the Viper Racing League, the Sports Car Club of America, and the National Auto Sport Association.

Awesome power is delivered by a 8.4-litre V10 engine that produces 640 horsepower (40 hp more than the standard model). Other performance enhancements include a specially-tuned sports suspension, a 65kg weight reduction (compared to the production Viper), improved aerodynamics (for increased downforce), and a complete safety package (with a roll cage, fuel cell and race seat).

During testing at the Laguna Seca racetrack, the Viper ACR-X averaged a time of 1:31.00. The street-legal Viper ACR set the production car lap record recently at the same track with a time of 1:33.944.

According to Dodge CEO, Ralph Gilles, “The Dodge Viper ACR-X takes the performance attributes of Viper to an even higher level for a wide range of drivers starting with the grassroots racer all the way up to the professional. This project is a result of many years of performance engineering expertise from our SRT team, combined with the passion and dedication of Viper Nation, to keep the Viper racing tradition going strong on tracks around the country and the world.”

Set to go into production this spring, the Viper ACR-X will be priced from around $110,000 USD.

Dodge Viper limited-editions revealed

December 3rd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Dodge Viper limited editions fq2

This week it’s all about the Dodge Viper with it’s record lap at Laguna Seca and rumoured Ferrari involvement. But no matter how much current interest there is in the Viper the 2010 model year marks the last run of the 600-hp beast. So to keep sales and consumer interest high for the next 12 months, Dodge is adding new colors, enhancing performance and releasing several limited-edition models.

Standard Viper SRT10 models receive two new exterior colors – Toxic Orange Pearl Coat and Bright Silver Metallic Clear Coat. Performance tweaks include a new shorter fifth gear ratio (changing from .74 to .80) this improves high speed acceleration with the 0-200 mph run dropping by 14 seconds. The track-ready ACR models get a new short-throw shifter, and some aerodynamic tweaking to the rear wing to lower drag while improving downforce.

From today, the automaker has announced the first two special editions of the Viper, and more are set to come.

The Dodge Viper ACR 1:33 Edition, pays tribute to the recent record-setting run at Laguna Seca, it’s easily identified by its unique two-tone Black Clear Coat/Red Clear Coat exterior color (the opposite of the original Viper ACR color). Other cosmetic enhancements include piano black console plastics with red gauge highlights and red stitching in the interior.

The Vooodoo-edition Viper ACR gets an all Black Clear Coat exterior with a Graphite stripe outlined in red. It’s highly exclusive with only 10 cars being produced with the unique striping on both the exterior and steering wheel.

Next-gen Viper won’t use Ferrari tech

December 2nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Next-gen Viper

With the dust still settling on the Fiat and Chrysler alliance rumours remain plentiful. One of the most interesting is that Ferrari will get on board in the development of the next generation Viper.

Dodge brand chief Ralph Gilles recently confirmed that while the next generation Viper may benefit from Maranello’s knowledge and experience, no platforms or technology will be shared between the two companies.

Gilles had previously fueled speculation with this statement “When we have partners across the ocean who are known as the best sports-car makers in the world, the future opportunities are huge.”

In a later news conference, Gilles backed down a notch.

“They really know sports cars. We just want some advice,” Gilles said. “Ferrari is Ferrari, Viper is Viper. Please don’t go there.”

The current generation Viper is due to be retired in mid 2010, and a replacement is not expected until later in 2012.

Chrysler unveils new 5-year plan

November 12th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Jeep Cherokee Wrangler fq

The New Zealand Chrysler team has been buoyed by the unveiling of a new 5-year plan to steer the company and its brands into the future.

A total of 21 new models are to be introduced by Chrysler before 2014, with the aim of doubling sales worldwide, returning the company to profitability and repaying the US Government loans.

Chrysler is partnering with its new 20% owner Fiat Auto to make use of the Italian company’s engine and product technology to achieve the ambitious turn-around and the plan has received the thumbs-up from the Chrysler distributor and dealer network in New Zealand.

“We were surprised and delighted by the scope of changes that are going to take place and there is a lot of confidence among our team about where Chrysler is going in the future,” says Todd Groves, Divisional Manager with Chrysler importer Sime Darby Automobiles Limited.

The Chrysler 5-year plan, which was revealed at a marathon 8-hour presentation to industry and media in Detroit, has been put together in just three months under Sergio Marchionne, who led Fiat through a similar restructuring three years ago.

The plan calls for almost $32billion to be invested in a complete renewal of every model in the Chrysler portfolio between now and the end of 2013. It will see Jeep emerge as the largest and most important brand in the Chrysler Group stable, the Dodge brand taking on a performance image and Chrysler paired with the upmarket Lancia brand in Europe.
Fiat will help Chrysler to fast-track development by providing vehicle platforms for a new range of medium and small size vehicles that will be launched with Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge nameplates. Among them are a new small Jeep under the Patriot size and new small cars for both Chrysler and Dodge.

Fiat will also provide technology for a new range of high performance four cylinder engines that are expected to deliver greater fuel economy and reduced emissions. Among the technology that will be utilised is the Multiair system that transforms the performance of a small capacity engine to rival much larger engines, thus saving weight and fuel. Advanced transmissions will also be part of the new development package.

Chrysler is also working on improving the current stable of models that will see the company through the immediate years. These include the Dodge Caliber and Jeep Patriot, both of which have just arrived in New Zealand with completely revised passenger cabins, featuring higher quality materials and detailed finishing.

Two totally new large Jeep and Chrysler models are expected to be introduced next year, but it will be 2012 before the all-new small and medium sized models arrive.

Chrysler says that the changes unveiled in the 5-year plan will see the company increase its sales from 1.3 million worldwide in 2009 to 2.8 million by the end of 2013. Jeep will almost double in sales to more than 800,000 per year, with Chrysler and Dodge each contributing 600,000 in sales. The Ram truck is being spun off into a brand on its own and will have a number of other models included, such as small and large vans.

Financially Chrysler is expected to break even in 2010 and progress to an operating profit of US$5 billion by 2014

Mr Groves says the New Zealand market may be small but it will be making an important contribution to the growing health of Chrysler in the future and plans are already being made to increase sales in this market in 2010 and beyond.

Chrysler to only sell Jeep outside U.S

November 5th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Chrysler Jeep

Fresh details about the international future of Chrysler brands has recently come to light. According to reports Chrysler will withdraw all but the Jeep brand from markets outside North America.

Apparently Jeep will remain an international brand because of its iconic status and global name recognition, while Chrysler, Dodge and the new Ram brand will be restricted to the North American markets.

This news may disappoint some American car fans but it makes sense for Chrysler because in recent years the North American market has accounted for around 90 percent of Chrysler’s sales.

The new plan is also expected to see the introduction of new fuel-efficient models to the US, using Fiat-developed technology. The Chrysler brand is expected to share and get most of its platforms from Lancia, which Fiat also owns.

Fiat will also take over development of the rear-wheel-drive platform scheduled to underpin the next generation 300C, replacing its own existing rear-wheel-drive project in Europe.

Alfa Romeo is also set to benefit by adding a new SUV to its future line-up, using platforms drawn from Chrysler.

Chrysler previews four new concept vehicles

October 16th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Chrysler Group LLC to showcase four Mopar image vehicles at 2009

Interest and exhibitors in the upcoming SEMA Show in the States may be down this year because of the state of the economy. However, Chrysler is unfazed and is using SEMA to show off four new concepts based on models popular with the American aftermarket. The company’s Mopar devision has thrown custom bits on a pair of Jeep Wranglers, a street-legal 556-horsepower Dodge Challenger, and a dolled up Dodge Ram 1500.

Jeep Wrangler concept fqThe most striking vehicle of the lot is the Jeep Wrangler “Lower Forty” – an imposing vehicle that uses a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 engine to turn its massive 40-inch tyres. Strangely, the massive running gear upgrade has been put on a standard ride-height two-door Jeep Rubicon — no suspension or body lift has been fitted. What has been bolted on is new fender flares that ride four inches higher than stock, a new integrated roll cage, a relocated spare tyre, a new drop-down tailgate with an old-school stamped Jeep logo. The windscreen hasn’t escaped severe treatment either, being chopped three-inches and raked back ten degrees further.

The second of the two Jeep Wrangler concepts is the Overland, a useful off-road Jeep Wrangler concept fq1camper. The go-bush-ready Overland includes a roof-mounted two-man tent with awning, a weatherised interior, and a three-inch suspension lift kit that helps clearance for the 35-inch tyres. Further enhancements include a Warn winch, desert-running-ready lighting, and a snorkel kit to ensure you can cross rivers.

The Dodge Challenger 1320 concept started off as a Mopar Drag Pak car, but it’s been civilized toned down for street life. It features a Hemi crate motor displacing 426ci, an engine that is made even more attention-getting by a pair of exhaust cutouts that allows the mufflers to be bypassed. Other bits include a strengthened driveline with a Dana 60 rear-end, ARB locking diff, widened Mopar police wheels wrapped in Mickey Dodge Challenger conceptThompsons, and a coilover kit. The interior has had some tweaks in a drag racing theme, including a pair of Viper front chairs, Hurst shifter, and a sports steering wheel. Dead weight like the rear seat and center console, and been kicked out in the search for lower ETs.

Finally, Dodge’s Ram pickup has been given the luxury treatment to create whats called the Bianco. The package includes 22-inch wheels, Arctic Ice pearl paint, two-tone Katzkin leather seats, various trim bits done up in piano black and Arctic Ice, and a thumping Kicker audio system.

Next Dodge Viper could use Ferrari derived V10

August 13th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Dodge Viper V10 eng

Back in 1987, Chrysler purchased a troubled Lamborghini, and within two years had Lambo hard at work developing a V10 engine program that would ultimately lead to both the Dodge Viper and the Lamborghini Gallardo. Ironically now, two decades later, it’s Chrysler that’s in trouble with an Italian carmaker coming to the rescue. Fresh reports are now suggesting that the replacement for the Viper’s V10 could infact be derived from Ferrari’s next-generation engine program.

Chrysler’s original plan was to sell of the Viper business, but no serious money was put on the table for it. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has become keen on taking advantage of the sportscar’s standing as the company’s halo vehicle. But with Chrysler unable to pay the heavy costs of developing the next-generation Viper, the engine program could be borrowed from the same basic powerplant that will propel upcoming Ferraris and Maseratis.

Ferrari has essentially only had four engine designs in its history: the Colombo design was in use from the company’s beginnings all the way through the ’90s. The Lampredi engine was used on a handful of vehicles in the 50’s before being phased out. The Dino engine had V6, V8 and V12 versions and was used until just a few years ago, while the current Ferrari/Maserati engine powers all vehicles in both companies’ current ranges as well as the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. Its 90-degree replacement will most likely come in various configurations including a flat-plane crank V8 for Ferrari, a cross-plane crank for Maserati and a pushrod V10 for the Viper.

Chrysler keeping Viper… for now

July 14th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Hurst Viper fq

The future of the Dodge Viper has been in question since mid 2008, when it was reported Chrysler wanted to sell the rights to it’s fastest sports car instead of discontinuing it. At first, there was a lot of interest, including Roush and Saleen, but the economic slowdown led to just one lowly offer from Devon Motor Works. The Viper’s production facility opened back up again last month but it was still believed that the 600 horsepower sports car would up for grabs. Now, that’s changed.

Late last week, Chrysler announced that the Viper program is no longer for sale and that it will continue to be produced until next year at least at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant. Nothing was mentioned as to why the decision was made or what will happen beyond 2010, but for now, the Viper remains Chrysler’s pet.

Check out the official press release below it doesn’t offer much new information but has a brief history of the Viper.

Press Release:

Chrysler Group LLC announced today that production will continue for the legendary Dodge Viper SRT10.

Originally slated to cease production in December 2009, the Chrysler Group Connor Avenue Assembly Plant — the exclusive home of Dodge Viper production since 1995 — will continue to build the V-10 powered sports car. Chrysler Group is no longer pursuing a sale of the Viper business assets.

“The Dodge Viper has successfully captured the hearts and imagination of performance enthusiasts around the globe,” said Mike Accavitti, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dodge Brand. “We’re extremely proud that the ultimate American-built sports car with its world-class performance will live on as the iconic image leader for the Dodge brand. ”

Introduced as a concept car in 1989 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Dodge Viper was designed and engineered to test public reaction to the concept of a back-to-basics, high-performance, limited production sports car.

The reaction was so overwhelming that customer orders began to flow in even before the auto show was over. Chrysler Corporation immediately decided to determine the production feasibility on transforming the crowd-pleasing Dodge Viper show car into a limited-production sports car in no more than three years.

In May 1990, after months of intensive study and testing, Chrysler Corporation announced that the Dodge Viper, powered by an aluminum V-10 was a “go.”

Dodge Viper production began in May 1992 at the New Mack Assembly Plant and was moved to Conner Avenue in October 1995. Viper V-10 engine production transferred from Mound Road Engine to Conner Avenue Assembly in May 2001. In 2008, Dodge introduced the all-new, fourth generation Dodge Viper SRT10. With more horsepower, more torque and more than 30 exterior and interior color combinations, the latest Viper gives enthusiasts the performance they expect on the track and off, with more factory customization options than before.

For 2009, the Dodge Viper SRT10 offers outrageous power, with an 8.4-liter, 600-horsepower (450 kW) V-10 engine contributing to blistering acceleration (0-60 mph in less than four seconds, 0-100-0 mph in the low 12-second range), setting an American sports car benchmark.

To date, more than 25,000 Dodge Vipers have been built.