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DaimlerChrysler : The 2003 Dodge Viper RT-10 Convertible

Chapter Three in a Legendary Supercar's History

2003 Dodge Viper Convertible
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Detroit - The Dodge Viper has always been more than just a car. To enthusiasts, it represents the purest expression of free-spirited driving. For a re-emerging Chrysler Corporation, it heralded a new way of doing business, taking chances and stepping over the edge. To the industry, it served as a wake-up call that the Dodge brand would be the catalyst for change in automotive design throughout the 1990s.

Beneath its iconic imagery, the Dodge Viper has backed up its reputation with cold, hard numbers - horsepower, torque, 0-60 mph, 1/4-mile, slalom, skid pad and top speed.

2003 Dodge Viper Convertible
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 Unlike the pseudo-sports cars that pop up every year or so from other car makers, at Dodge, slick copy has never been a replacement for raw performance.

So when it came to write the third chapter in the remarkable story of America's only true supercar, Dodge once again defied convention and built the all-new 2003 Viper lighter, faster and more powerful than ever. This chapter's subhead echoes the enthusiast mantra: "There's no replacement for cubic displacement."

When we introduced the first Viper, we set the principles that would forever define the car - obscene performance, outrageous design and ultimate driver enjoyment," said Jim Julow, Vice President, Dodge Global Brand Center, DaimlerChrysler Corporation. "With this next chapter, we've stayed true to those principles in creating the next version of the ultimate American sports car."

The next chapter of Viper takes extreme performance further than Dodge has ever taken it before. The Dodge Viper will become the only production car in the world to develop at least 500 horsepower, 500 lb.-ft. of torque and feature an engine with more than 500 cubic inches of displacement.

2003 Dodge Viper Convertible
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"When you want to increase the capability of a high-performance car, there are three basic areas you can change: increase the power, reduce the weight or improve handling," said Larry Lyons, Vice President, Small Car Platform Engineering, DaimlerChrysler. "For the new Viper, we did all three."

The Viper once again underscores the core philosophies of the Dodge brand by being the ultimate automotive icon for extreme performance and extreme attitude.

500/500/500 Performance Bring back the big blocks!

With performance upgrades that will increase its displacement from 488 to 505 cu. in. and push its V-10 power output to a whopping 500 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque, Viper has no equal on the road.

The 8.3-liter all-aluminum big-block engine drives huge 19-inch rear wheels and anchors a performance package that eschews technical gimmickry in favor of traditional engineering virtues. The spirit of America's muscle cars lives within the Dodge Viper.

Race-Bred Chassis

In creating the next chapter of Dodge Viper, the mission was to enhance its unfiltered blend of performance. Viper retains a traditional front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout with six-speed manual transmission. The commitment was made early on to use a racing-style chassis including fully independent four-wheel suspension, huge tires and wheels for maximum grip and massive brakes for stopping power.

A new version of the Viper's four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system, originally introduced for the 2001 model year, will be enhanced on this next-generation car.

Body by Dodge

With styling cues derived from the Dodge Viper GTS/R concept car first shown at the 2000 North American International Auto Show, the all-new 2003 Dodge Viper RT-10 convertible packs an outrageous new design into a low-slung roadster shell.

Lowered hood lines, swept-back fenders and deep-cut side scallops take their cues from the classic original, yet bring the Viper into the 21st century. Improved aerodynamics and a full-length undertray add functional performance enhancements.

Viper's visceral lines speak volumes for the passion that Dodge designers bring to their craft. The new Viper gives enthusiasts an American sports car that remains true to the credo of pure performance.

Interior Fits Drivers Like a Glove

The next chapter of Dodge Viper continues to set the definition of "extreme," yet features greater levels of refinement and finish.

2003 Dodge Viper Convertible
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A race-derived two-seat cockpit looks over a highly functional instrument panel with center-mounted tachometer and a 220 mile-per-hour speedometer, giving a clue as to the production car's top-speed potential. A push-button starter refires old-time sports car memories.

There's no mistaking that the driver is in command at Viper's helm. Viper is the automotive equivalent of a jet fighter, and at the pilot's command, launches off the line like a Hornet from a carrier catapult.

Viper Redfines the Convertible

The new Viper has a new roofline profile with an easy-to-operate drop top. The Dodge Viper was initially introduced with a full-width sport bar that brought open-air motoring to the Dodge lineup. The second chapter of Viper history was written when an all-new GTS Coupe joined the Roadster for 1996, and added classic gran tourismo styling to match the car's prodigious performance capabilities.

The new Viper's bi-fold clam shell top with single center latch now makes it a true convertible, and harks back to a time when sports cars delivered serious performance capabilities and stood for untamed freedom.

True to the Mission

Team Viper set out five goals in creating the next generation car:

  • Preserve Viper's standing as the ultimate American sports car

  • Build a true convertible version that provides better convenience yet retains the original roadster feel

  • Refine the original shape without losing its "outrageous design"

  • Raise the benchmark for "unmatched performance"

  • Maintain the back-to-basics approach from the original Viper

"With its dramatic styling, 500/500/500 performance and racing pedigree, the Dodge Viper is unlike any other car on the road and expresses a style and attitude only Dodge could deliver," Julow said. "Viper has earned the title of Ultimate American Sports Car."

The Dodge Viper will go on sale in August 2002 as a 2003 model. It will be built at DaimlerChrysler's Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit, Michigan.

all photos: Chrysler/Dodge

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