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July 10, 2009 - Autos

Robert Eckaus
Viper stays, but what now?

Some of the best news in recent months for enthusiasts broke today: The sale of the Viper division is off the table!

Anything that holds the production car record at the infamous Nurburgring in Germany has some legs from a sales standpoint. And that also translates to profits as costs come down. Yes, this is a reversal of my previous position regarding the reason to sell. It is no longer Chrysler in survival mode, but rather Fiat recognizing a position in the marketplace as technological advancements with so many other sports cars make the Viper more and more unique as it remains unchanged. But the horsepower race, sadly, is still over.

Sure the Viper can be made faster, but when horsepower levels exceed those in race cars, what happens next under the hood? Exactly - nothing. The Viper can remain the high horsepower purists car with no electronic nannies interfering with the throttle or suspension. That's right, the Viper is becoming the purist's car because the others are getting more sophisticated with various forms of electronic engine and suspension management. Examples include the suspensions on the Corvette ZR1 and Porsches.

The car itself can be improved in terms of refinement or interior amenities and that can get expensive to develop and for the buyer to purchase. The other way to improve it is by weight loss. "Adding lightness" per the mantra of Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus, is the other direction it can go. Expensive yes, but very potent. All wheel drive isn't going to happen either.

As I said before though, the horsepower race is essentially over. Putting the Viper sale on the block a while back was the sign. It isn't so much gas prices as it is the physics of rubber on pavement. As much as I want to drive a car every day that can lift the front wheels off the ground so I can "live my life ten seconds at a time", those wrinkle-wall slicks are lousy in the twisties. If I go to the track, I want a Viper ACR. But until then, I'll just keep reminiscing about the time I went for a ride in a Lamborghini Murcielago - that all wheel drive meant it laid all the power down.

More at cartruthblog.blogspot.com

Keywords: Dodge, Viper, Corvette, ZR1, Porsche, Colin, Chapman, Lotus, ACR, Lamborghini, Murcielago
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