SRT boss Ralph Gilles had the look of a relieved man when unveiling the new SRT Viper. At the New York motor show, he gave a very honest account of the troubles the all-America muscle car faced in its conception.
SRT was once up for sale during Chrysler’s woes, but Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne’s refusal to “sell one of our own” has seen Chrysler’s tuning and motorsport brand emerge as a brand in its own right, selling 20,000 cars per year.
During the Viper’s development, Ferrari and Maserati engines and platforms were looked at to try and drive down costs, but in the end the old car’s steel architecture and 8.4-litre V10 were retained but completely renengineered.
“If we used anything else, it just wouldn’t be a Viper,” said Gilles. “Cars like this may make a little bit of money but, it’s really about showing we still have a soul and what the company is capable of when we really go for it.”
Gilles said criticism of the old car “had hurt”, particularly in some of the criticism of the interior. He admitted “no love” had gone into crafting the old Viper, which ended production in 2010, as Chrysler had taken a mass-market approach to what is a very specialist car.