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Why the Powerful and Popular Dodge Viper Disappeared

The 2017 Dodge Viper, for many, represented a true luxury sports car. It had a powerful V10 engine and handled like a dream. It looked every inch the dynamic sports car, offered extraordinary power, and an easy-to-use infotainment system.

The Viper received many accolades. There were plans announced by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to make the wildly popular car stand out even more.

Yet, the last Dodge Viper rolled out of the Conner Assembly Plant on August 31, 2017. What happened to the Dodge Viper? Will it ever make a comeback?

The last generation of the Dodge Viper

The Dodge Viper has been a symbol of the brand for some time. One look at its sleek design along with the sound of an engine that puts out 645 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque in the 2017 models certainly is enough to turn heads. 

Introduced in 2013 as the SRT Viper, the fifth generation of the Dodge Viper reappeared after two years out of the lineup. The Viper had been gone since 2010. When it was announced in 2013 that it was returning, fans were ecstatic. During the five years it was in production, sales of the latest generation of the supercar weren’t what FCA was hoping for. 

Only an estimated 485 units of the 2017 Dodge Viper were old. It was a third of the Vipers sold 10 years before that, leaving everyone torn. FCA wanted sales. Fans still considered it a permanent, necessary part of the Dodge brand. 

FCA lowered the prices and sales improved slightly. Sales didn’t reach the level the company expected, so it was announced that the 2017 models were the last ones made for the Viper.

Incredible performance

Sales were a huge factor in the discontinuation of the Viper, but so was its performance relative to the competition – particularly the iconic Chevrolet Corvette.

When the Dodge Viper originally debuted in the early ’90s, it presented a new American sports car that offered a stunning appearance and incredible performance. In its first generation, the Viper was equipped with a V10 engine that could run a quarter-mile in 12 seconds. It put out 400 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque.  

The only American car that could compare was the Corvette, which put out 300 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque in its base model. The ZR1 got 375 hp and 370 lb-ft of torque. It could make the quarter-mile trip in around 13 seconds, but it couldn’t match the Viper. It was a tradition that continued in subsequent years and generations.

Chevrolet introduced the C6 Corvette ZR1 with 638 hp versus 600 hp offered by the Viper. Still, the Viper ACR managed to keep up with the supercharged Corvette on road courses everywhere. While the fourth generation Viper was a success, FCA discontinued it after 2010 so that they could work on a better Viper – the 2013 SRT Viper.

The problem was the cost and the release of the C7 Corvette Stingray, which was more comparable to the Viper in performance. With only a slight edge in performance over the competition, a higher price tag, and the release of the Dodge Hellcat Challenger and Charger, it was easy to see how things fell apart for the Dodge Viper.

Also, new safety standards were imposed that required side-impact airbags in vehicles that the Viper couldn’t accommodate without significant changes to its structure.

Will the Dodge Viper return?

Several reputable media venues, including Car and Driver and Maxim, reported that FCA intended to bring the Viper back for 2020. News of a 2021 Dodge Viper wasn’t true, however.  They cited the same source and retractions were made following the publications. So as of now, there are no plans for the Dodge Viper to return.

The Chevrolet Corvette lives on, and while Dodge no longer offers the Viper, it does offer the Dodge Challenger and the Dodge Charger as quality sports cars for die-hard fans.