My day started bright and early at 6 AM. I got dressed, grabbed my gear and headed on out in the 2015 Challenger rental I got when I arrived last night. Making my way down the famed 8 Mile I made series of right turns and came across a huge building, the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant. The home of Viper. It took me twenty years to get here and I had plenty of other opportunities before me but just couldn’t make it. I went through security, parked and waited a few when my good friend and Viper Owners Association National President, Maurice Liang, arrived as well.
“Have you ever been here before?”, he asked.
“Nope first time in twenty years since I saw my first Viper, it’s actually sitting inside”, I replied.
“Well you couldn’t have picked a better time!”
Myself and Maurice chatted, other media people arrived, had breakfast and waited for the event to take place. Jodi Tinson, communications in Manufacturing and Labor at FCA, welcomed us and went over the schedule of what was to take place. Shortly thereafter we were finally able to walk into the plant and made our way to a seated area looking out towards the plant floor and a long row of historical Vipers. The first Nurburgring record ACR, the Laguna Seca record ACR, two Gen V GTS-R’s, a 92’ RT/10, #007 1998 GT-2 (GTS-R) and several others.
I sat down in the front row with John McElroy of Autoline Detroit. Super nice guy and a blast to talk cars with. Viper plant Manager, Doug Gouin, took a stand front and center to discuss Vipers future and history, as well as how efficient Conner Ave is and how most of the Viper is designed, created and finally assembled in Detroit. He then called up Dodge President and CEO, Tim Kuniskis. According to Tim, four thousand Viper GTC orders have been placed, which was great news since the online configurator went up last month. There are 25 million different combinations to choose from exterior color, interior, wheels, packages, even tires. Basically when it comes down to it, your renting the plant for the day. You choose your Viper, they’ll build it for you.
But enough about that, it was time for the big surprise. A short video package was displayed on a monitor and down the aisle a V10 roared to life. The 2016 Viper ACR became official and was now good to go for production. At SEMA, the ACR concept was white, but the production car in front of us looked so good in Billet Silver metallic with the black center band and Adrenaline Red drivers stripe. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like the ‘fender’ vents but in person they looked right in place. The rear wing, like the previous gen ACR, is massive and “the stepped ends to either side help provide downforce to the rear tires to keep it planted”, engineer Jeff Reece explained.
Later on during the tour, which you’ll see later, we got to check out the ACR’s new carbon ceramic brake rotors and massive calipers. The rotors themselves are super light and are approximately seventeen inches in diameter. While overhearing conversations, the debut car has seen at least a few dozen laps with no issues. Like all the other current gen models, it still produces 645HP from it’s natural aspirated, thor-like 8.4L V10. Of course with the aero bits on the car it’s top speed is limited but this was, like the ACR before it, designed and engineered as a corner destroyer and lap record killer.
There’s no doubt the new ACR has made it’s presence known within just a few hours. I’m really curious what it will do and hope sometime in the near future to get behind the wheel of one because if I could have, I would have done so right there, canceled my flight and drove back home.