The Dodge Viper lives on through these 8 cars...kind ofby Dim Angelov, on LISTEN 10:53
It’s common practice for small boutique manufacturers to base their products on other carmaker’s platforms. Most times, it’s only the engines that are borrowed, but there are more than a few cases where chassis and even whole vehicles are being used as a basis for a new car. In the high-performance segment, the Corvette is the most popular choice on which other cars are based. However, the Viper platform is equally, if not more, capable and there are more than a few cars based on it.
Starting off with a project which celebrated 100 years (a century) of Alfa Romeo’s racing heritage, the TZ3 Zagato Stradale was unveiled at the 2010 “Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este” in Italy. Zagato was responsible for styling the Stradale (Street) version of the car, of which 9 were built. The basis for this masterpiece was the fourth-generation Dodge Viper SRT-10. Of course, the bespoke coachbuilding turned the American brute into a modern-day interpretation of the iconic 1963 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ.
The 8.4-liter all-aluminum 90-degree OHV V-10 lump produced 600 horsepower (450 kilowatts) and 560 pound-feet (760 Nm).
For comparison, the original TZ had a 1.6-liter DOHC inline-four unit with 112 horsepower (82 kilowatts) and 160 horsepower (118 kilowatts) in race trim. Later TZ2 models had 170 horsepower. If you want the Viper-based TZ3, be prepared to pay $700,000.
Read our full review on the Alfa Romeo TZ3 Zagato Stradale
From Los Angeles-based industrial design house, Devon Motorworks emerged another coach-built supercar based on the fourth-generation Viper. In fact, the entire roofline is unmistakably Viper, while the rest of the body was heavily altered, featuring numerous retro design elements.
The unique carbon fiber was made in-house – no Italian meddling here, believe it or not.
The engine was a mildly modified version of the Viper 8.4-liter V-10, and it produced 650 horsepower. As with the Alfa Romeo TZ3 reinterpretation, the V-10 is mated to a six-speed Tremec TR6060 manual gearbox. A total of 36 cars were supposed to be built, but only two are known to exist – serial number one (black) and serial number two (red).
The car also featured a fully-revised interior, where only the steering wheel and steering column remained the same as on the Viper donor car. A brand new Devon GTX would have set you back $500,000 if you go for the top-spec. In 2012, one of the cars was auctioned off for $220,000. Considering the rarity, I’d say that’s a bargain!
Read our full review on the Devon GTX
A more recent car built on the Viper platform is the, also American, VLF Force One. It was introduced at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show and featured a stunning design, courtesy of Henrik Fisker. Force One used the underpinnings and drivetrain of the fifth-generation Viper.
The 8.4-liter V-10 was modified and now produced 745 horsepower and 638 pound-feet (865 Nm).
This allowed the VLF Force One to hit 60 mph (97 km/h) in just 3.0 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 218 mph (351 km/h). The Tremec TR6060 was a natural choice, but there would also be an optional paddle-shift unit, available.
The VLF Force One interior was a significant upgrade from the Viper, featuring plenty of leather, smartphone connectivity, and even a champagne holder with a two-bottle capacity, located between the seats. The plan was to build 50 cars and sell them through Keating’s Viper Exchange dealership, at a $286,500 sticker price. Only five cars ended up being built. If you want one now, there is one for sale at $300,000.
Read our full review on the VLF Force One
History has recorded more than a few collaborations between British and American carmakers. The Bristol Fighter is one such example. For this one, we have to turn the clock back 17 years. Formula One engineer Max Boxtrom was responsible for the coupe design that featured gullwing doors. The Fighter bore some resemblance to the Jensen Interceptor and just like it, it was powered by a big frontally-mounted Chrysler engine.
From what is known about the car, it was based on earlier Viper generations and even had the earlier “smaller” 8.0-liter V-10 unit. Earlier cars produced 525 horsepower and 525 pound-feet (712 Nm). The V-10 was coupled to a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. The 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) sprint was dealt with in around 4.0 seconds. The car also had a curb weight of 3,527 pounds (1,600 kg) and a drag coefficient of 0.28, which contributed to a top speed of 210 mph (338 km/h).
|0 to 60 mph||4.0 seconds|
|Top Speed||210 mph|
The Bristol Fighter S brought power up to 628 horsepower and 580 pound-feet (786 Nm), while the Turbocharged Fighter T boasted 1,012 horsepower and 1,036 pound-feet (1,405 Nm), which allowed for a 3.5-second sprint to 60 mph and a top speed of 225 mph (362 km/h) or 270 mph (430 km/h) de-limited.
|0 to 60 mph||3.5 seconds|
|Top Speed||270 mph|
The total production number is between 9 and 14 cars. The 1,012-horsepower Fighter T was never produced. The Bristol Fighter is expected to make a return in 2022.
Read our full review on the Bristol Fighter
Prefix Viper Medusa Roadster
This is a bit of a cheat since it is technically a Dodge Viper. However, the fifth-generation (VX-1) was never offered as a roadster. That is until Prefix Performance decided to do a conversion kit. The car was unveiled at a special event for 500 members of the Viper Club.
The Michigan-based studio decided on an initial run of 10 cars. It is unknown how many of them were built. The roadster had a manual soft-top ad a bespoke deck lid. Unexpectedly, the topless Viper had more trunk space than the coupe (it’s usually the opposite). Medusa actually stood for Manufactured, Engineered, Developed in the USA. The conversion cost $35,000, on top of the Viper’s price.
Performance-wise, the Viper still relied on the 8.4-liter V-10 with 645 horsepower and 600 pound-feet (813 Nm).
Dodge Viper Defender
In 1994, Chrysler launched a TV series, called “Viper”. Essentially, Chrysler’s version of “Knight Rider”.
The main protagonist drove the Viper Defender, which was based on a heavily modified first-generation Viper RT/10. In the series, the “Defender’s” civilian disguise was a red RT/10 (later a Viper GTS).
The show ran until 1998.
As for the Viper Defender, it was specially designed by Chrysler and not by Film designers like most movie cars. Chrysler stylist Steve Ferrerio was responsible for the unique design of the car. In terms of drivetrain and performance, the car is believed to be completely stock. A total of 14 fully-functional Viper Defenders were made by Chrysler. It was made strictly for the series and was never sold to the public.
Honorable Mention: Chrysler Firepower
The Chrysler Firepower was unveiled in 2005 and was supposed to be a more upscale and refined Dodge Viper.
Although it had the Viper’s chassis, the engine was a 6.1-liter HEMI V-8, with 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet (569 Nm).
The sprint to 60 mph (97 km/h) was dealt with in 4.5 seconds and the top speed was 174 mph (280 km/h).
|Engine||6.1-liter HEMI V-8|
|0 to 60 mph||4.5 seconds|
|Top Speed||174 mph|
The car was said to enter production next year, but the Economic crisis put Chrysler in survival mode and the car never made it to production.
Read our full review on the Chrysler Firepower
Honorable Mention 2: Dodge Copperhead / Concept Vehicle
The Firepower was a great idea, but back in 1997, Chrysler had another one. Realizing that not everyone could spend $75,000 on the Dodge Viper, the company’s management decided that a slimmed-down version of the snake would be a good idea. The car had a Viper chassis, but was tuned more for handling. The engine was a 2.7-liter DOHC V-6, which produced 220 horsepower and 188 pound-feet (255 Nm). Essentially, a Miata on steroids.
The car was set for production in 2000, but never made it for some reason. There was some controversy regarding the name, as it was shared with a customized 1950s Ford Coupe, owned by ZZ Top Rock star Billy Gibbons, which was already registered as “Copperhead”. As a result, the Dodge Copperhead was renamed to “Concept Vehicle”. Had it made it to production, it would have had a sticker price of $30,000. Still, one fully functional prototype was finished.