By Patrick Rall
The other day while cruising down the highway near Detroit I saw a blue SRT Viper GTS test “mule” merging up ahead. While I see a great many Viper mules in my area, as I approached the metallic blue Viper I noticed something unusual about this particular SRT supercar. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera but was able to get my camera phone out to snap a couple pictures of the gorgeous blue Viper.
As you probably noticed after just a quick look, the Viper’s wheels do not match. On top of the fact that these wheels don’t match each other, they also don’t resemble anything currently available in the 2013 Viper lineup. The front wheels offer a large, somewhat clunky 9 spoke design that is unlike anything in the current company product lineup and honestly – I would have a hard time seeing these wheels on the Viper. Perhaps the fact that they are spinning is skewing their actual look but from what I can see I am led to guess that there are just some wheels that the team had laying around the shop.
On the other hand, the rear wheels on the SRT Viper test mule shown here should look familiar as they appear to be the same rims found on the 2010 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR. Although these simple, lightweight 5-spoke rims were painted either red or black in 2010 production form, these silver wheels appear to be identical in every other way to the wheels from the American Club Racer that set track records around the globe.
Finally, in addition to the odd wheels, this SRT Viper GTS test mule has circular exhaust tips poking through the side sills rather than the angular, molded exhaust tips found on the 2013 SRT Viper production models. A great many mules running around the Detroit area have circular exhaust tips that do not match what is used on the production version of those same cars but those “test tips” are usually unfinished and fit poorly; generally sticking well away from the body. On the other hand, these circular exhaust tips appear to be far more finished than the average test tip and they fit into the body very well.
Of course, the SRT Viper is no normal vehicle, so perhaps the SRT engineers wanted to make sure that even their test mules are special. So these unusual wheels and finished non-production exhaust tips could be nothing more than odd-ball parts thrown on a test vehicle. However, perhaps this is more than just the average test mule. The previous generation Viper ACR had circular exhaust tips (as did all of the Vipers in 2010) along with the 5-spoke wheels shown on the rear of this car. Perhaps this is some sort of higher performance mule car, sporting a traditional body dressing that allows it to blend better, but with unique exhaust and special rear wheels – maybe we are looking at a few of the design cues of the upcoming 2014 SRT Viper ACR expected to dawn next year.