Up close with the new SRT Viper
America bites back! How Detroit's scariest sports car sharpened its fangs
Posted: 15 Jun 2012
Somehow, my hurried shepherding past a slinky shape badly disguised under a light-blue car cover and insistence that there’s ‘nothing to see here’ increases their curiosity. The recently deceased Viper hasn’t been forgotten, and those close to the brand are obviously intrigued. Eventually, the last of the executive army tramps out to face the heavy weather, and we finally get to pull back the cover properly. My initial reaction to the styling is:
“Yup, that’s a Viper.” All the key elements and proportions are present and correct: supertanker-length bonnet, check; cab-back driving position, check; slitted gills, check; even the famous side exit exhausts sitting proud just forward of the rear wheels. All pretty much Viper standard, bar a few extra swages and feature lines. Initially, there’s a shard of surprise the new car has so much of the old car about it, but spend more time in Viper’s presence, and there’s a refinement and a sophistication in the styling that simply didn’t exist before. Radical? Not really. But more different than it first appears. And, as Mark Tressel, head of SRT design and the man responsible for rejuvenating the icon, explains, there are some things you just don’t mess with in Viper land.
“Initially, we did a lot of work that really changed the proportions of the vehicle, but what we started to talk about is that the Viper is iconic, and car companies struggle to create icons. The Jeep Wrangler is an iconic vehicle.