Up close with the new SRT Viper
America bites back! How Detroit's scariest sports car sharpened its fangs
Posted: 15 Jun 2012
So new Viper sounds like it will be just as exciting to drive, but a whole lot easier to manage and harder to crash. But the fact that the Viper is here at all is something of a miracle. In 2009, the US car industry all but imploded, with Chrysler filing for bankruptcy. Twelve months before, with the writing on the wall, a private equity team had looked at the possibility of selling the Viper brand. As Ralph Gilles (CEO of the SRT brand) put it:
“Chrysler saw it as a nice juicy way to gain about $100–200 million in the open market, not realising that the car was kind of a Last of the Mohicans, so to speak. But it didn’t have stability control or any of the aids you’d need in 2014; in fact, the car couldn’t even legally be sold in 2012, because it just wasn’t up to date. So when they did due diligence, they realised how expensive it was going to be to redo without the benefit of what we do here.” And so, in June 2009, Chrysler came blinking into the light from the semi-darkness of US creditor-protected Chapter 11 bankruptcy, finding itself owned by Fiat Group. It was then that the newly appointed CEO Sergio Marchionne finally got to drive Viper, and realise the scale of any potential reinvigoration.