The original Dodge Viper concept vehicle was offered by the Chrysler Corporation as homage to the concept forged by the Shelby Cobra of a generation earlier.
The simple formula of a big engine stuffed into a muscular roadster with no frills, tied to the ground with road course-ready suspension and wide, sticky tires showed the global automotive fraternity that Chrysler wasn’t shy about putting its engineering chops and enthusiastic soul on display for world view.
The original Viper prototype was constructed by Metalcrafters, a Southern California fabrication and engineering shop. Resplendent in a vibrant red finish, the car was a sensation among the automotive press, NAIAS show-goers, and the automotive enthusiast community at large.
Viper put the Italian supercar contingent on notice that brute force and ignorance could handily trump multi-valve engines and dainty gated shift linkages, regardless of pedigree.
Public reaction was so positive that Dodge appointed veteran chief engineer Roy Sjoberg as leader of Team Viper, an elite squad of 85 engineers charged with bringing the dramatic Viper concept to series production. Three years later, at the 1992 NAIAS, final-production Viper vehicles were reaching anxious customer hands.
The 2014 SRT® Viper and all of the road, racing and Grand Touring Vipers that have gone before it, owe their very existence to the iconic concept vehicle first shown 25 years previously.