By Patrick Rall
Recently, Chrysler’s SRT division has offered a few bits of information on the upcoming 2013 SRT Viper–including a shadowy picture of the front end and a mystery air intake–but they’ve been careful to not reveal the whole car. However, in the last 48 hours, this picture surfaced.Since then, this grainy, grossly pixelated image has appeared on nearly every automotive news site in the world, the explanation being that it shows the SRT Viper from Mattel’s 2013 Hot Wheels line. And at first glance, there’s little question it’s the new Viper. But are we seeing a small-scale rendition of the SRT supercar? A Mattel artist’s early rendering before the actual car is revealed? Or something else entirely?What leads many to believe this is the 2013 Viper begins up front, with the large central air intake flanked by a pair of openings in the hood. Many expect this configuration to be found on the new Viper. There also appears to be a rounded, raised center section on the hood–reminiscent of what we’ve seen in past years–with a front fascia design that while a bit vague, could conceivably be the new Viper’s face.But once you get to the roofline, the doors, and the rear I begin questioning whether this is actually a look at the production version. Sure, they’re pretty blurry, but they look a great deal like the late ’90s Viper GTS Coupe–a little too much like the GTS Coupe. The way the front portion of the door tucks in behind the front fender, angling up to the exterior mirrors is almost identical to the early Viper coupes. And the actual roofline is short, with what looks to be a fastback rear window design leading to a very short trunklid. Again, just like the GTS Coupe. Compare the side, roof and rear of the 1999 Viper GTS Coupe below to the design seen in the blurry Hot Wheels image.
These similarities likely mean one of three things:
1. The image does show the 2013 SRT Viper, the vehicle expected to reset the standard for the American supercar. But the Street and Racing Technology designers have gone all out toward making the next generation look like the older models–except with a sharpened front end. Would SRT really offer a design so similar to previous models?2. Hot Wheels will be making a 2013 SRT Viper, but since the car hasn’t been debuted yet, an artist designed the image shown on the right to stand in place of the actual car, using cues from previous models on the side and back, and incorporated the rumored changes up front. If this were the case, some styling cues may be deliberately incorrect to keep the look of the 2013 Viper a surprise.
3. This vehicle could be a Hot Wheels model which isn’t modeled on an actual production version. Instead, this is a uniquely designed vehicle which carries styling cues from other vehicles. An example? The vintage Rodger Dodger which looks in every way to be a ’70s Dodge Challenger. But the Rodger Dodger has never officially been a Chrysler vehicle.