Adventures in Power: The Dodge Viper GTS/R
9 January 2000Race Bred Concept Leaves Competition Hissing
DETROIT -- More than a decade after the original Roadster concept was unveiled and seven years after the debut of the Coupe concept, the 2000 North American International Auto Show in Detroit again rattles with excitement. DaimlerChrysler today took the wraps off a street-legal, LeMans endurance race-inspired concept car, the Dodge Viper GTS/R. "The current Viper GTS-R was created in 1996 in response to numerous customer requests for an all-out racing version of the GTS Coupe," said Tom Gale, Executive Vice President - Product Development and Design. "Each limited edition Viper GTS-R is designed and built as a true competition car. So what if we were to perfect this racer for the street? The answer is the Viper GTS/R concept." The Dodge Viper GTS/R concept keeps the spaceframe, aluminum suspension, 488 cubic inch (8.0-liter) aluminum V-10 engine and high-performance six-speed manual gearbox now used in the current Viper, which is the undisputed ultimate American sports car. Like the race version, the engine now is dry-sumped and delivers 500 horsepower, up 50 from the standard Viper GTS engine. Its torque is increased to 500 lb.-ft. Viper GTS/R's one-piece carbon fiber body in Enhanced Viper Red and interior are redesigned from the ground up -- literally. "The chassis on the Viper GTS/R is two inches lower to the ground," said Osamu Shikado, Design Manager and responsible for the concept's exterior. "We also took an inch-and-a-half out between the sill and the roof, making this concept a significant three-and-a-half inches lower than the current GTS Coupe. Meanwhile, we added three inches to the wheelbase and two inches to the track, creating impressive proportions." The Dodge Viper GTS/R concept stays true to Viper's bold, muscular appearance but adds a contemporary and precise execution. The exterior design underscores the vehicle's power. Crisp lines introduce the concept to a longitudinal design, compared to the sumptuously rounded lines of the current version. Every detail is redesigned for maximum race-inspired functionality. Air management is dramatically improved. A lower hood incorporates a larger grille opening -- boasting an even bolder version of the Dodge-signature cross-hair design -- and adds integrated engine louvers and a bigger NACA intake duct. Brake cooling openings are prominent in the front fascia and rear fenders. An electronically adjustable front wind-splitter, large rear air diffuser and massive rear hoop spoiler with cockpit-controlled wing enhance the Viper GTS/R's down force. Said Shikado: "We gave the body a strong profile with higher belt line, dramatic side gill, 'bump-up' rear fender shape and a more defined side crease. Seen from above, the race-inspired front-to-rear stripe now is tapered for a more dynamic appearance. "Both front and rear light units and the driving lights are reminiscent of snake eyes. Light output is dramatically improved, just in case the concept needs to participate in an endurance race," said Shikado. While the rear wheels were moved three inches backward, the A-pillar was positioned three inches forward. This allowed for bigger doors and better ingress and egress. In making the Dodge Viper GTS/R a more street-ready touring car, its interior offers the driver and passenger a purposefully sophisticated atmosphere with driver-focused instrument panel. "The toggle switches, vertically stacked custom engine gauges and instrument layout with centered tachometer come straight from the track," said Ralph Gilles, the concept's interior Design Manager. "Extensive use of clear-coated raw carbon fiber reinforces the concept's race background. "But the GTS/R is more attuned to road use with all the expected amenities -- including a high-end stereo, air conditioning and adjustable pedals -- and black leather surfaces where it matters," said Gilles. The center stack of the instrument panel is a solid piece of aluminum with exposed fasteners housing the engine gauges, toggle switches, the concealed stereo and throttle body-style air vents. Said Gilles: "The driver should be aware of the Viper GTS/R's awesome performance at all times, even in a traffic jam. Those tongue-in-cheek throttle vents play off its raw power." The Dodge Viper GTS/R concept vehicle not only is a show stopper, it is road ready. The vehicle is expected to accelerate to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, run the quarter mile in 11.8 seconds and break the 200 mph barrier. Fourteen-inch ventilated disc brakes with four-piston calipers all-around and 19-inch wheels with P285/30 ZR Goodyear tires up front and 20-inch rear wheels with P335/30 ZR tires result in an even more impressive number: 0-100-0 mph in 13.2 seconds. "When we entered GT racing with the Viper GTS-R in 1996, we were instantly successful, defying all criticism," added Gale. "We have dominated the FIA GT2-Championship since 1997, causing our competitors to step up their efforts. Obviously we won't rest on our laurels, and the Dodge Viper GTS/R concept shows the potential we have."