The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

The 2003 Dodge Viper RT-10 Convertible: Chapter Three in a Legendary Supercar's History

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
    DETROIT, Jan. 8 The Dodge Viper has always been more than
just a car.  To enthusiasts, it represents the purest expression of free-
spirited driving.  For a re-emerging Chrysler Corporation, it heralded a new
way of doing business, taking chances and stepping over the edge.  To the
industry, it served as a wake-up call that the Dodge brand would be the
catalyst for change in automotive design throughout the 1990s.

    Beneath its iconic imagery, the Dodge Viper has backed up its reputation
with cold, hard numbers -- horsepower, torque, 0-60 mph, 1/4-mile, slalom,
skid pad and top speed.  Unlike the pseudo-sports cars that pop up every year
or so from other car makers, at Dodge, slick copy has never been a replacement
for raw performance.

   So when it came to write the third chapter in the remarkable story of
America's only true supercar, Dodge once again defied convention and built the
all-new 2003 Viper lighter, faster and more powerful than ever.  This
chapter's subhead echoes the enthusiast mantra: "There's no replacement for
cubic displacement."

    "When we introduced the first Viper, we set the principles that would
forever define the car -- obscene performance, outrageous design and ultimate
driver enjoyment," said Jim Julow, Vice President, Dodge Global Brand Center,
DaimlerChrysler Corporation.  "With this next chapter, we've stayed true to
those principles in creating the next version of the ultimate American sports

    The next chapter of Viper takes extreme performance further than Dodge has
ever taken it before, reaching a Holy Grail of sorts for those worshiping the
religion of extreme automotive performance.  The Dodge Viper will become the
only production car in the world to develop at least 500 horsepower,
500 lb.-ft. of torque and feature an engine with more than 500 cubic inches of

    "When you want to increase the capability of a high-performance car, there
are three basic areas you can change: increase the power, reduce the weight or
improve handling," said Larry Lyons, Vice President, Small Car Platform
Engineering, DaimlerChrysler.  "For the new Viper, we did all three."

    The Viper once again underscores the core philosophies of the Dodge brand
by being the ultimate automotive icon for extreme performance and extreme

    500/500/500 PERFORMANCE
    Bring back the big blocks!
    With performance upgrades that will increase its displacement from 488 to
505 cu. in. and push its V-10 power output to a whopping 500 horsepower and
500 lb.-ft. of torque, Viper has no equal on the road.
    The 8.3-liter all-aluminum big-block engine drives huge 19-inch rear
wheels and anchors a performance package that eschews technical gimmickry in
favor of traditional engineering virtues.  The spirit of America's muscle cars
lives within the Dodge Viper.

    In creating the next chapter of Dodge Viper, the mission was to enhance
its unfiltered blend of performance.  Viper retains a traditional front-
engine, rear-wheel drive layout with six-speed manual transmission.  The
commitment was made early on to use a racing-style chassis including fully
independent four-wheel suspension, huge tires and wheels for maximum grip and
massive brakes for stopping power.

    A new version of the Viper's four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system,
originally introduced for the 2001 model year, will be enhanced on this next-
generation car.

    With styling cues derived from the Dodge Viper GTS/R concept car first
shown at the 2000 North American International Auto Show, the all-new 2003
Dodge Viper RT-10 convertible packs an outrageous new design into a low-slung
roadster shell.

    Lowered hood lines, swept-back fenders and deep-cut side scallops take
their cues from the classic original, yet bring the Viper into the 21st
century.  Improved aerodynamics and a full-length undertray add functional
performance enhancements.

    Viper's visceral lines speak volumes for the passion that Dodge designers
bring to their craft.  The new Viper gives enthusiasts an American sports car
that remains true to the credo of pure performance.

    The next chapter of Dodge Viper continues to set the definition of
"extreme," yet features greater levels of refinement and finish.

    Viper retains its essence -- its "Viperness" -- while taking natural steps
forward.  A race-derived two-seat cockpit looks over a highly functional
instrument panel with center-mounted tachometer and a 220 mile-per-hour
speedometer, giving a clue as to the production car's top-speed potential.  A
push-button starter refires old-time sports car memories.

    There's no mistaking that the driver is in command at Viper's helm.  Viper
is the automotive equivalent of a jet fighter, and at the pilot's command,
launches off the line like a Hornet from a carrier catapult.

    The new Viper has a new roofline profile with an easy-to-operate drop top.
The Dodge Viper was initially introduced with a full-width sport bar that
brought open-air motoring to the Dodge lineup.  The second chapter of Viper
history was written when an all-new GTS Coupe joined the Roadster for 1996,
and added classic gran turismo styling to match the car's prodigious
performance capabilities.

    The new Viper's bi-fold clam shell top with single center latch now makes
it a true convertible, and harks back to a time when sports cars delivered
serious performance capabilities and stood for untamed freedom.

    Team Viper set out five goals in creating the next generation car:

    *  Preserve Viper's standing as the ultimate American sports car
    *  Build a true convertible version that provides better convenience yet
retains the original roadster feel
    *  Refine the original shape without losing its "outrageous design"
    *  Raise the benchmark for "unmatched performance"
    *  Maintain the back-to-basics approach from the original Viper

    "With its dramatic styling, 500/500/500 performance and racing pedigree,
the Dodge Viper is unlike any other car on the road and expresses a style and
attitude only Dodge could deliver," Julow said.  "Viper has earned the title
of Ultimate American Sports Car."

    The Dodge Viper will go on sale in August 2002 as a 2003 model.  It will
be built at DaimlerChrysler's Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit,


    (measurements in inches (millimeters) unless otherwise noted)

    Vehicle Type:                     Two-seat convertible
    Assembly Plant:                   Conner Avenue (Detroit, Michigan)
    Engine (type and description):    10-cylinder, 90 degree V-type,
                                       liquid cooled
    Displacement:                     505 cu. in. (8300 cc)
    Power (SAE net):                  500 bhp (372 kW)
    Torque (SAE net):                 500 lb.-ft. (678 Nm)
    Transmission:                     Manual, six-speed overdrive

        Front:                        P275/35 ZR18
        Rear:                         P345/30 ZR19
    Wheels:                           Forged aluminum
        Front:                        18 x 10
        Rear:                         19 x 13

    Overall Length:                   175.5 (4459)
    Overall Width:                    84.8 (2154)
    Overall Height:                   47.6 (1210)

    Wheelbase:                        98.8 (2510)

    Curb Weight:                      3357 (1526)
        Front:                        57.8 (1469)
        Rear:                         60.9 (1547)

    With appreciation, Dodge recognizes Johnson Controls for their
contribution of actual Viper seating materials to this press kit.  Johnson
Controls supplies the automotive industry with integrated interior systems
including seating, cockpits, lighting and electronics, door trim panels,
complete overhead and floor consoles and batteries.

See the introduction of this car for yourself here on The Auto Channel.