Does the Dodge Viper really need more than 450 hp? Some current owners apparently think so. But that's the kind of information DaimlerChrysler Corp. hopes to reap from a survey it's conducting with Viper enthusiasts that likely will play a role in the performance and design of the next generation sports car due out in a few years.
The formerCorp. put Viper into production as an open top 2-seat roadster for the '92 model year and later added a closed top coupe in 1996. Since 1992, Dodge has sold about 9,700 Vipers. Dodge is taking the unusual approach of asking Viper enthusiasts as well as the public and even members of the media to volunteer what they want to see in Viper Gen II. Some already have written asking for such changes as the addition of an automatic transmission and antilock brakes.
But Dodge says it also wants to know if enthusiasts prefer keeping two Vipers or dropping either roadster or coupe; if Viper should be shortened and slimmed down a bit; and if another engine, a V-8, should replace the current V-10.
Most Viper enthusiasts also have said they want a lighter, not heavier car, and more power, not less. Dodge also is interested in whether enthusiasts prefer staying with rear-wheel-drive or switching to front-wheel-drive, and what the reaction would be to a carbon fiber body such as on race cars.
"We're looking for ideas that eventually will turn into sketches, then clay scale models, and then full size concepts to bring to auto shows to get feedback from consumers that either, 'You missed the mark,' or 'Now you're thinking,'" a Dodge spokesman says.