Archive for the ‘viper’ Tag

The Dodge Shakedown Challenger Is Bizarrely Wonderful

If ever there were proof that Bizarro World exists, then this Dodge Shakedown Challenger at the 2016 SEMA show might just be it. Whereas the modern Dodge Challenger is a new car made to look like an old car, the Shakedown Challenger is an old car made to look like a new car. Bizarro, indeed.

Although the Shakedown is technically a 1971 Challenger, the crew at FCA added the headlights, taillights, and a grille from the 2017 Challenger to give the classic coupe a contemporary look. A custom lower front fascia, rear lip spoiler, and modern 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels that share a design with the wheels featured on the Challenger SRT Hellcat further blur the line between old and new.

The Shakedown Challenger’s looks aren’t all that has been updated for the 21st century. As the giant “Mopar 392” fender decals imply, the Shakedown is motivated by Dodge’s 485-hp 6.4-liter V8. A functional hood scoop, a cold-air intake, and a custom-made exhaust provide the 392-cubic-inch engine with an extra bit of grunt. Meanwhile, a six-speed manual transmission cribbed from the Viper puts the pushrod engine’s ponies to the rear wheels. Custom suspension components and Brembo brake calipers from the Hellcat ensure the Shakedown’s other dynamic qualities are as capable as its impressive powertrain.

Dodge didn’t leave the vintage Challenger’s outmoded interior untouched, either. The Shakedown’s insides include a modern Mopar gauge cluster, as well as a steering wheel and seats culled from today’s Viper. The rear seats have been removed, too, replaced by a parcel shelf and a roll bar, while a fuel cell and its associated filler sit in the Shakedown’s trunk.

The Dodge Shakedown Challenger is quite possibly the most meta car we’ve ever laid eyes on. After all, this classic Challenger is styled to look like a car that was originally designed to mimic the looks of the 1970–71 Challenger. It seems, then, that the modern-looking, 45-year-old Dodge Shakedown Challenger is Chrysler’s attempt to shake things up, not down. Which kind of makes sense, because in Bizarro World “down” actually means “up.”

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Riley Viper Preparing for LeMans, Still on Reserve

It came as unfortunate news in February when the Dodge Viper team from Riley Motorsports hadn’t made the cut for the 24 Hours of LeMans. Outside of the NHRA, Mopar racing fans are running out of drivers to pull for, so after the success in the Rolex 24, Viper racing fans had high hopes for the team in the 2015 24 Hours of LeMans.

The Riley Viper didn’t make the field for the LeMans 24 hour race, but it was the first car on the reserve list — should any cars in the given class not be able to make it to LeMans for the race, their spots will be taken from the reserve list. With the Viper team sitting in the first spot there, any car in the GT classes to drop would allow the #53 Riley Viper to get into the field.

Since February, the Riley Viper team’s status for the 24 Hours of LeMans race hasn’t changed. However, the team has been practicing with the LeMans car, with Ben Keating recently doing some shakedown work at Road Atlanta. Viper Exchange posted the picture above showing the car wearing the Tudor Series #93, stating that Keating and the Viper team were practicing for LeMans. While they don’t have an official entry thus far, the team is preparing for the race as though they will be in the field.

Realistically, the Riley Viper GT3-R has a good chance of getting into the field. Reserve cars have been included in the race in each of the past few years. In some years, so many cars dropped that there weren’t enough cars on the reserve list to fill the 56 car field, on the biggest stage in American endurance racing.

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Dodge announces Viper price cut

The 2015 Dodge Viper will have more horsepower, improved fuel economy and, perhaps best of all, a new starting price of $84,995, excluding destination charges and gas guzzler tax. The new sticker is $15,000 less than the 2014 model and is about the same as the original 1992 price of $50,700, adjusted for inflation.

The new Viper has 645 horsepower and gets up to 20 miles per gallon. Deliveries will begin in the first quarter of 2015.

In addition to lower pricing on the 2015 Viper, prices on all Vipers in dealer inventory have been discounted by $15,000. Current Generation 5 Viper owners will receive a $15,000 certificate that they can use toward the purchase of a new Dodge Viper. This is in addition to the $15,000 price reduction, so a buyer could save $30,000.

Viper sales have fallen dramatically from their pre-recession levels. Dodge reported 38 sales in August, down 37.7% from August 2013. The Chrysler supercar is still in the black for the year with sales up 15.0% to 438 units but there are an estimated 600 still on dealer lots.

Speaking to Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis said, “I think the current car is so much better than any other Viper we’ve ever built, but we’ve got to fix the one last piece: We’ve got to fix the retail equation. We’ve got to fix what’s going on in the dealership, in the showroom. It’s the dealer network, it’s the inventory, it’s the pricing, it’s how we sell the car. We have to fix all of that.”

The Viper will now be marketed along with other Dodges and will be available from all Dodge dealers.

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Dodge and SRT belong together!

Among the moves unveiled during the recent Investor Day program for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, shifting the Street and Racing Technology (SRT) group into the Dodge brand perked up the ears of driving enthusiasts.

The change means the Viper high-performance sports car returns to the brand where it was born in 1993. Also, throughout SRT’s history the majority of its products have come from the Dodge stable.

With Dodge now positioned as the Chrysler Group’s performance brand, bringing SRT into the fold is a natural move, says Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler Group CEO.

“Dodge is a performance brand, it needs to have SRT attached to it,” Marchionne said on May 13 while attending a transmission plant opening event in Indiana.

He added: “So in the next five years you will see the portfolio purified and strengthened by removing the minivan, the Avenger, the replacement of the Journey with something else that matches the DNA of Dodge. But that needs the completion at the top end with SRT. And SRT will complete Dodge. It will make it the specialist performance piece of the performance brand.”

SRT will maintain its current momentum under the leadership of Dodge Brand President and CEO Tim Kuniskis. The passionate and popular Ralph Gilles, who served as SRT brand chief, continues in his roles as Chrysler Group design chief and head of motorsports.

“He’s still going to be leading the design of the cars,” Marchionne said. “That’s a huge strength in that field.”

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Asked about the Viper, Marchionne said: “It’s going to be the top end of the extended Dodge family. It will be a Viper but managed by Dodge. The fangs will always be unique.”

2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat

What It Is: The long-rumored 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat being put through its paces under gloomy skies. Wearing but tiny strips of camo on its front and rear fascias, Chrysler apparently feels that, since the 2015 Challenger update was revealed at the New York auto show, cloaking measures are no longer required for the Hellcat’s nearly identical exterior.

Unfortunately for them, our savvy photogs caught one in the wild, immediately zeroing in on the Hellcat’s telltale center-mounted and front-facing air-intake scoop. Even better, they managed to snag a shot with the Challenger’s hood raised, exposing the massive supercharger that, for those of a certain age, will likely bring to mind the “rat roaster” aftermarket intakes favored by brave Challenger Hemi owners during the pony car’s first go-round some 40 years ago. Sure the technology is completely different (with a distinct lack of carburetion), but evoking the past has been part of the modern Challenger’s appeal since day one. In addition to the Viper-esque hood scoop, it appears the Challenger Hellcat will pack the same revised front fascias, deep air dam, LED headlight halo, and taillamps as the rest of the Challenger lineup.

Why It Matters: The pony-car war is still on full boil, and Dodge needs to keep the Challenger interesting in the face of the redesigned 2015 Mustang and its forthcoming Shelby GT350 variant rumored to be packing a flat-plane “Voodoo” V-8. And then there are the Camaro ZL-1 and the Z/28. Bragging rights mean a lot in this segment, and if it takes forced induction to keep the Challenger relevant, you wont hear a whimper of complaint from us.

Platform: Nothing new here, the Challenger Hellcat is expected to soldier on with the same shortened LX platform as its siblings. We wouldn’t be surprised if Chrysler tweaked spring rates, dampers and bushings for Hellcat duty, and the bright-red Brembo calipers seen in the images appear to be a tad more substantial than those in current use.

Powertrain: Initial rumors pegged the Hellcat’s numbers somewhere just north of 600 horsepower and with 575 lb-ft of torque, but recent remarks made by SRT chief Ralph Gilles insinuated that the final number may top the 640-hp output of the V-10–powered Viper. The current 6.4-liter Hemi generates 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft, and pushing the horsepower number beyond 600 via forced induction is the easy part; making it tractable and durable is where the work is done. Reports are that the Hemi will back up to a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic.

Estimated Arrival and Price: Our latest intel has the 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat arriving in the third quarter of 2014 as 2015 model. Pricing is up in the air, but with the current Challenger SRT8 ringing in with an MSRP just south of $47,000, you can bet the Hellcat will be north of the $50K mark.

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Next Dodge Challenger Might Overpower the Viper V10

The race to claim the highest horsepower rating has been alive and well in the world of muscle cars since the beginning, but it looks like Chrysler is facing an internal horsepower race.

A new 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 known as the Hellcat is being put together for the next-generation SRT-tuned Dodge Challenger, and it is creating debate within Chrysler because its horsepower rating may eclipse the 640 hp found in the flagship Viper’s naturally aspirated V10.

“We have a situation where the flagship car is not the most powerful car in our arsenal … how do we explain that to ourselves? So we have an internal horsepower race as well as an external one,” Says Ralph Gilles, CEO of SRT to Hot Rod.

If the Hellcat wants to do battle with the Ford Mustang GT500′s 662 hp and the Chevy Camaro ZL1′s 580 hp, it will have to be very close to the stepping on the Viper’s toes.

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2014 SRT Viper TA

SRT CEO Ralph Gilles could have been detailing his brand’s top-secret plans for the next five years, or taking potshots at the Corvette for all I knew. I was only about 10 feet away from Gilles as he was telling a small group of assembled media something or other about the history of the Viper – just now enriched with this “Time Attack” TA model – though I was barely aware of the fact that he was addressing me at all. Despite my laptop being dutifully erected for the purpose of taking notes, my concentration had been splintered by the sensationally orange coupe that was hurtling into my peripheral vision, trailing a wake of baritone exhaust that seemed only mildly filtered by the brick and glass building in which I was sitting. The test drivers were getting some last runs in the TA and it was… distracting.

The 8.4-liter V10 that sits like a loaded gun under the 2014 SRT Viper TA’s six-vent hood makes all of its 640 horsepower at 6,200 revolutions per minute. On the last third of the long straight at Willow Springs, just before shifting up from fourth into fifth gear and with the speedometer tickling 140 miles per hour, it also makes a noise like The Devil Himself has cracked open Hell in southern California. The wail is unmistakable, even at a distance, to the initiated, and might be the highest-decibel production-car exhaust note I’ve ever encountered. It certainly doesn’t make a presentation easy to sit through, either.

The magic of the Viper TA isn’t in the massive V10 engine.

But the magic of the Viper TA, which uses the very same powerplant as the standard SRT and the deeply contented GTS, isn’t in the massive V10 engine. Rather, it lies in a host of synergistic components that allowed the best drivers at our test day to come out of Willow’s treacherous Turn 9 with enough speed to require the shift up into fifth. Because, while it’s perfectly natural to drop your jaw and gawk at the heroic power and torque figures this car offers, being able to use them to their fullest on a fast track requires some rather tricky work on the part of the SRT team. Thankfully these guys seem to live for shaving off seconds and adding exit speed; the daubs of extra handling performance that make the TA such a monster on a super-fast track like Big Willow.

Many of you might have first heard about the Viper TA by way of an article and video Motor Trend put together this past spring. The car the MT crew drove for that outing was a very early sample of the TA formula, accelerated by the SRT team as a way of demonstrating that the Viper could indeed out-gun the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 around Laguna Seca. That trial resulted in racing driver Randy Pobst setting a new production car lap record at Laguna, but the specifications of the record-breaking car are slightly different than they are for this 2014 model year production version.

SRT will build some 165 examples of the TA, with 99 of them slated to be painted in signature TA Orange.

SRT will build some 165 examples of the TA, with 99 of them slated to be painted in signature TA Orange, 33 painted black and 33 white. Continuing along the exterior, one can easily pick out the aero kit that sets the TA apart, with a deep front splitter and rear lip spoiler being crafted from carbon fiber. In addition to really setting off the flaming paintwork, the aero additions create 278 pounds of downforce at 150 miles per hour, or 460 pounds if you make it up to the car’s 196-mph top speed. The added aero also reduces said top speed by about 10 mph versus the standard Viper – a tradeoff we’ll take any day. Dark-finish, lightweight “Sidewinder” wheels are also part of the TA suite, and make the car look menacing even when sitting still.

TA underpinnings have been judiciously applied to add at-limit handling performance, while also trying to keep weight down. Front and rear spring rates have been increased (and the springs themselves painted TA Orange), while solid front and rear sway bars add significant stiffness. A prominent carbon-fiber X brace also takes the place of a similarly shaped aluminum unit in the engine bay, shaving nearly three pounds in the process.

The net-net of the new spec list is a Viper that is sharper and more durable in a track situation.

The Viper TA also gets a set of model-specific brakes front and rear. The 14-inch Brembo rotors are the same diameter as the standard issue items (and as the optional, lighter-weight StopTech units), but offer more swept area and greater thermal capacity. The TA braking system offers the same performance as the available StopTech gear, but should provide less fade in demanding race conditions. Speaking of durability, SRT has even dialed in more negative camber to the front and rear wheel alignment (1.1 degrees front, 0.35 degrees rear) as a means of reducing tire wear over the course of a race.

The net-net of the new spec list is a Viper that is sharper and more durable in a track situation while gaining just 12 pounds of curb weight versus the most basic version of the coupe.

Before I hit the full track at Willow Springs – a 2.5-mile monster of a thing whose layout has remained unchanged since it was first laid down over the mountainous desert in 1953 – the Viper guys put together an autocross course for all of the sweaty-palmed journalists to use as an icebreaker with the TA. You probably don’t tend to think of the Viper in terms like “nimble” or “tossable,” but the truth of the cone course proved those descriptors to be pretty accurate. Once I got a run under my belt, I found that it was almost easy to flick the snake through the tightly wound course, including being able to actually gain speed by the fourth gate of a slalom section.

I didn’t expect the Viper to be world-class in terms of road-feel and feedback, but that’s exactly what I found.

The genius here, at least for a non-racer like me, is that the Viper controls are all incredibly straightforward and tactile. The steering wheel presents with heavy turn-to-turn effort, to be sure, but the weight is more reassuring and stabilizing than it is cumbersome. The steering ratio isn’t overly quick at 16.7:1, but the very small steering wheel made it a simple thing to change direction rapidly. More impressive is the incredible touch on offer from the wheel; I felt as though every fissure in the asphalt surface was evident through the tiller. Honestly, I didn’t expect the Viper to be world-class in terms of road-feel and feedback, but that’s exactly what I found during both track drives and public road excursions.

Like its steering experience, the Viper TA also offered me incredible response via the pedals. The clutch and gear lever are really well matched, both mechanical and not overly heavy in terms of feel, making at-speed shifts quick and accurate to execute. Bite from the brake pedal was instant and progressive as I dug in deeper, while booting the accelerator offered an equally linear response for the opposite effect.

I felt right at home behind the wheel after about 30 seconds.

Newcomers to the model might very well expect the SRT supercar to be difficult to drive without practice, but the fact is that I felt right at home behind the wheel after about 30 seconds. There are, I’ve no doubt, uncountable and exotic ways in which to make this ludicrously fast car go wrong. But the ultra-communicative nature of the Viper with its well-sorted controls means that cockups should mostly be matters of bad driving, rather than the results of a truculent machine.

The talkative nature of the car also meant that I was more or less at ease when I set out to do my first lap of the big track at Willow. At a moderate pace around the nine-turn road course I was inundated with tactile information about road surface and grip levels, making it an easy sport to increase my pace, along with my confidence, lap after lap. Willow’s Turn 2, a double-apex, sweeping bowl of a thing called “The Rabbit’s Ear” is the place where I made best use of the rock-steady suspension, pushing the car hard and never feeling the slightest note of waver or lean from the underpinnings.

My stomach never let me get as deep into Turn 1 as my brain told me I’d be able to pull off.

My favorite moment of the day came while making the fast right-hander at Turn 4 that lies at the top of a hill; a dab of brakes and flick of the wrist was all it took to rotate the car smartly, and a tiny mid-turn correction all that was needed to reel in a slightly upset rear end before plowing down the hill towards Turn 5 and 6. Here, the lovely balance and prodigious grip of the Viper were the stars of the moment, and the fluidity into brutal acceleration a microcosm of what makes the TA so killer. (No joke, pinning the throttle while pointed straight out of Turn 6 is close-to-sex good).

I never came close to rounding the track in anything like the pace of the SRT hot-shoes and professional racers that were on-hand, of course. I took a right-seat ride with one of the pros after dozens of laps of my own just to see how much speed I was leaving on the table. No surprise: I was leaving a lot. The Viper TA’s brakes are impeccable, but my stomach never let me get as deep into Turn 1 off the main straight as my brain told me I’d be able to pull off. And the massive tires – Pirelli PZeros in a 295-section out front and 355-section in the back, making the largest contact patch of any production car in the world, says SRT – offered so much grip that even corners I thought I’d attacked with maximum effort were slow when compared with the pros’ pace.

I came away with notions of balance and poise rather than tales of lurid spins and high-speed turbulence.

But the impressive part wasn’t the speed with which I drove, but the confidence with which I learned. In the track-ready version of what is, even in this mildly gentrified new generation, a car with one of the meanest reputations on the planet, I came away with notions of balance and poise rather than tales of lurid spins and high-speed turbulence.

Which isn’t to say that the Viper TA, or any Viper, is subtle. It most certainly is not. The same world-class levels of driver feedback that make the snake such a superb driving tool also create an on-road experience that is never placid, despite the lovely new interior treatment and straightforward controls. The Motörhead exhaust note is thrilling when pouring on revs at Willow Springs, but might become more draining when used in the heat of close-quarter city driving. The Viper isn’t a car that every 911 owner or Corvette enthusiast will want, or should consider. It is intense and evocative, an acquired taste for discerning drivers. Not, emphatically not, a car that everyone should be expected to love.

The Viper TA is a beacon for heart-over-head passion in today’s dispassionate car business.

And, to say it plainly, the Viper TA is absolutely the most idiosyncratic of the now three-deep Viper range. The extra performance it offers can really only be found in race conditions, and it’s simply not as easy to live with as the already compromised, yet luxurious, Viper GTS. The Time Attack represents a micro-niche so small that I wonder if a target of 165 examples is slightly aggressive, despite my being personally head-over-heels in love with the thing. The likely $120,000-price tag deepens my concern for the business plan, while leaving my ardor for the model untouched.

In the end, I think my introduction to the car – interrupting a serious meeting by way of flaring orange paint and blasting V10 voice through side-pipe throat – was perfect. The Viper TA is a beacon for heart-over-head passion in today’s dispassionate car business. Flawed, original and completely charming, its capabilities as a civilian racer should not be in doubt, nor its claim to the title of the best sports car in the world dismissed. Cool car, Ralph.

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Stryker Green Debuts on 2014 SRT Viper at North American International Auto Show

Latest high-impact, hand-painted, show-car quality exterior color is available across Viper model lineup

· New ‘Grand Touring’ package brings standard Nappa leather seats, sophisticated chassis electronics and exclusive paint colors to the Viper’s entry price class

The newest, high-impact exterior paint color for the SRT Viper was shown today for the first time at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The Chrysler Group’s SRT (Street and Racing Technology) brand introduced “Stryker Green,” an evolution of the iconic Snakeskin Green exterior color that first appeared in 2008, which features enhanced green and yellow pigments and a “liquid mercury” appearance. The color is the perfect choice for SRT enthusiasts that want to take their SRT Viper to the next level of exclusivity with a vivid and unique color that reflects light to show off the dramatic curves of the Viper.

“We’re continuing to develop and build unique, low-volume, special-edition colors for the Viper that adds to the exclusivity of our American-built flagship supercar,” said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO, SRT Brand and Motorsports. “Every SRT Viper is painted with a process that is very similar to what we use for our show cars. The application of the new Stryker Green exterior paint is a very detailed and intricate process, taking approximately eight hours to complete. The process first starts with a base color coat followed by a green-tinted mid-coat and topped off with a clear finish. Each coat application adds depth and accentuates the curvature of the Viper’s exterior design.”

Also making its debut on the 2014 SRT Viper is the Grand Touring (GT) special package featuring standard Nappa leather seats, five-mode Electronic Stability Control and the two-mode Bilstein® DampTronic Select suspension, both previously only available with the Viper GTS price class. The GT option package will be limited to the new Stryker Green and Venom Black exterior colors.

Stryker Green exterior color will be available starting in February on the Viper GTS price class, and the SRT price class with the new GT package.

The SRT Viper isn’t just the ultimate supercar, it’s also a perfect canvas for high-performance parts and accessories from Mopar.

This Moparized SRT Viper showcases lightweight carbon fiber components with an exposed carbon fiber performance X-Brace, which is almost 50-percent lighter than the production version with the same strength and functional stiffness.

Additionally, a prototype aero package has been fitted to the show car with a Mopar carbon fiber rear wing and extended front corner splitters.

About SRT Viper

The fifth generation of iconic American-built supercar returned in 2013 as the SRT (Street and Racing Technology) brand’s flagship performance machine with more power and performance, superior craftsmanship, new technologies and creature comforts. Power from the all-aluminum, 8.4-liter mid-front V-10 engine delivering 640 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. of torque – the most torque of any naturally aspirated sports-car engine in the world, combines with triple-digit weight reduction to produce the best power-to-weight ratio of any Viper ever. Standard safety features include electronic multistage stability control, traction control and new 4-channel anti-lock brake system (ABS).

The iconic supercar is hand-built at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit – the Viper’s home since 1995. Both SRT Viper and SRT Viper GTS models offer new interior and exterior designs incorporating premium materials and new exterior surfaces with aerodynamically functional details that are beautifully integrated into the high-tech carbon fiber and aluminum skin. On the inside, designers and engineers strived to rethink all its touch points and upgrade all its material appointments and

technologies. The Viper GTS model adds many premium features including a leather wrapped interior, five mode electronic stability control and a two mode adjustable suspension.

About SRT Brand

The Chrysler Group’s SRT brand uses a successful product development formula featuring five proven hallmarks: awe-inspiring powertrains; outstanding ride, handling and capability; benchmark braking; aggressive and functional exteriors and race-inspired and high-performance interiors; to remain true to its performance roots.

The 2014 SRT lineup features five vehicles that are world-class performance contenders and bring the latest in safety technologies and creature comforts. The Chrysler 300 SRT, Dodge Challenger SRT, Dodge Charger SRT and Jeep® Grand Cherokee SRT join the flagship SRT Viper, which made its highly anticipated return to the high-performance sports car market in 2013.

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2009 Dodge Viper STR-10 ACR

by Tim Joseph

The year was 1992. There were riots in Los Angeles, the Olympics in France, the Toronto Blue Jays became the first Canadian baseball team to win the World Series, Bill Clinton became the 42nd president and the first Dodge Viper rolled off the line at Chrysler’s Mack Avenue plant. Since then 25,000 Vipers have been built and the plant operates to its 1,200 vehicle per year capacity.

Pictured above is the 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 ACR which we all drooled over at this years North American International Auto Show. It is powered by a monstrous 8.4-liter V-10 engine and puts out 600 horsepower. Currently it holds the top time at the Nurburgring with a time of 7:22.1 beating out even the Nissan GT-R. This is definitely an amazing machine.

The story probably will not end here. Chrysler announced they will sell off the Viper brand and it sounds as if there is a lot of serious interest. The problem is that Chrysler’s business model doesn’t support a hand built, limited production vehicle. There will no doubt be someone out there who will be able to produce the Viper and be profitable doing so. The story is yet to be written.