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2013 SRT Viper: Preparations for the new snake begin in the Motor City

Wed, 14 Dec 2011

If it's possible to have a favorite factory for enthusiasts, the Viper plant in Detroit would definitely rank among the top five. And preparations will soon begin to ready the plant for the relaunch of the SRT Viper in late 2012.

That's right: The famous Dodge supercar will officially be badged the SRT Viper, a move that breaks from the car's 22-year heritage. The car was first seen as a concept at the 1989 Detroit auto show and was a pet project of then-Chrysler president Bob Lutz.

The 2013 SRT Viper will anchor that brand, as Chrysler announced plans earlier this year to further differentiate its performance models. Ralph Gilles, who also serves as the company's design boss, moved from Dodge CEO to head up the SRT unit. More vehicles are expected to get the badging.

The Viper has been built at the Connor Avenue Assembly Plant since 1995. Dubbed the “Snake Pit,” it carries the much of the cache of the Chevrolet Corvette factory in Bowling Green, Ky., and Ferrari's factory in Maranello.

Though Chrysler considered selling Viper as its own brand—potentially with the factory included—no deals ever came to fruition, and the site was the first factory to reopen after its 2009 bankruptcy. The plant was idled in 2010 when the last-gen Viper went out of production. Chrysler said the factory built an average of 12 Vipers each day, producing 22,070 copies. In total, 28,056 Vipers were built at Connor Avenue and another Detroit factory before that, from 1992 to 1995. About 150 jobs will return to the site as production launches.

A custom Viper rolls of the line in 2010 at the Connor Avenue factory in Detroit.

“We're extremely excited that our ultimate American sports car will continue to live on and be produced exclusively here in the Motor City,” Gilles said in a statement.

The Viper has long been a favorite of enthusiasts, and while details are slim about the next generation, Chrysler has said it will offer traction control on its traditionally raw supercar.

The future Viper is expected to incorporate technology from Chrysler partner Fiat, and dealers have said a prototype shown last year had Italian styling cues. A V10 powerplant was perhaps the signature trait of the old Viper, but Chrysler has not spoken publicly as to what the car will employ under the hood.

Additionally, the next Viper is expected to be run in international GT racing, and Chrysler has signed Riley Technologies to analyze the potential.

By Greg Migliore