With last week’s introduction of the all-new mid-engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette (C8), it has many diehard Mopar fans wondering, should the Dodge brand bring a replacement for the iconic Dodge Viper back to market? The other question is, should it be mid-engined?
While the automotive world is hyped up about General Motors’ $60,000-ish mid-engine offering, some Corvette diehards are upset to see the traditional front-engine long hood Corvette design go away. Corvette Executive Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter, stated in a Chevrolet Corvette press video that the team “felt they had reached their limit of their performance capability in the architectures they had” and that is why the moved to a mid-engine layout. But when you look at the situation from a Mopar fan perspective, the Chevrolet Corvette (C7) still could not overtake the 5th generation of Dodge Viper ACR’s performance dominance in its ZR1 trim-level, despite having an additional 110 horsepower and being available with an 8-speed automatic.
Viper currently, is still the fastest manual transmission car around the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife and holds various records at race tracks across the world. It leads us to think, that the new Corvette could inspire the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) design and engineering teams, to create a new generation of supercar for the Dodge//SRT brand. But again, it goes back to should FCA look at the same formula that made Viper successful or go into a whole new direction.
With the way, emissions regulations are around the world, a V-10 engine is more than likely out of the question for such a vehicle. However, Dodge//SRT has an entire lineup of high-performance HEMI V8 that would be capable for such a task. The 797 horsepower and 717 horsepower variants of the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8s that underpin the Dodge Challenger SRT HELLCAT and SRT HELLCAT Redeye, are easily available and are said to be slated in the FCA engine lineup for the next several years. Rumors have said that a new naturally aspirated 7.0-liter HEMI V8 could be coming to market, however, our sources say that engine program has been shelved at the current moment.
But if Dodge//SRT were to design a mid-engine supercar, the design and engineering department have had a past that involves some interesting mid-engine vehicles. FCA (Chrysler) began looking hard developing mid-engine cars in the mid-1990s. The Chrysler Patriot Concept was a turbine-electric hybrid prototype race car the company designed with the idea to take to the 24 hours of LeMans. Shortly after, Viper engineers were working on prototypes to make the Viper into a mid-engine vehicle, but that program was put on hold.
After the merger with Daimler, the Chrysler design studio created an 850 horsepower quad-turbocharged V-12 mid-engine supercar with the intent of production, called the Chrysler ME-Four Twelve, which was canceled by the board of Daimler leadership. Most recently, the FCA US Design staff showcased a fictional mid-engined concept car in 2015 for the video game series Gran Turismo 6. The SRT Tomahawk Concept was designed more as a conceptual preview of what supercars could look like in 20 years.
With a vehicle portfolio that has a mid-engined Alfa Romeo 4C and a relationship with former FCA brand (spun off as its own brand in 2014), Ferrari, FCA is no stranger to mid-engine supercars.
The big question is, where could such a vehicle be manufactured? The problem with FCA currently, is production capacity is limited, due to the number of production plants and capacities of certain vehicle architectures. The former Conner Avenue Assembly Plant (C.A.A.P.) that manufactured the hand-built Dodge Viper and Plymouth (Chrysler) Prowler on Detroit’s east-side, has been converted to house the Chrysler Historical Collection of vehicles and museum pieces. Without an assembly plant like C.A.A.P., the company would have to find a new home for such a vehicle, whether it be front-engine or mid-engine layout and that takes a lot of money.
There is no doubt, that the Dodge//SRT brand could use a supercar halo vehicle again. Since the departure, Dodge//SRT have given the brand halo cars to fill the absence of the Viper with vehicles like the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT HELLCAT Redeye, and 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320. However, a performance halo vehicle to showcase the American performance brand image of the Dodge//SRT brand is still not present outside the muscle car lineup.
What do you think? Should Dodge//SRT look at bringing a halo car back to the brand outside the muscle car lineup it currently has? If so, should it be the conventional American long hood front-engine layout, or should it follow in Corvette’s foot-steps? Leave your comments, below.