1997 Dodge Copperhead: The Viper Competitor that Got Stung

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1997 Dodge Copperhead Passenger Side Front

Expected to launch in 2000, the Copperhead faced random roadblocks, including turmoil with a Texas rockstar, that led to a change of plans.

The 1997 Dodge Copperhead has become one of the forgotten Chrysler Group concepts from the 1990s. Possibly due to legal issues with the name, it never went beyond this concept, but the sleek roadster displayed what else the company could do with the Viper chassis. This car was introduced at the 1998 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as an affordable option to the Viper, focusing more on handling than raw power. The company had originally planned to launch the Copperhead into production for 2000, but those plans fell through and the stunning one-off concept car disappeared into the company’s collection of unique vehicles.

Fortunately, a few years back, FCA pulled the 1997 Dodge Copperhead out of storage and displayed a few at the Dodge Brothers’ Meadowbrook Estate, where we were there to get some great shots of one of the coolest cars that the Chrysler Group never built. Welcome to the second installment of Dodge Forum’s “Concept Spotlight” series.

1997 Dodge Copperhead Front

Building the Copperhead

The 1997 Dodge Copperhead was built on the chassis of the Viper, there were extensive modifications made to differentiate between the two. The Copperhead is a bit shorter overall, but the wheelbase was stretched a foot to improve stability and handling capabilities. Of course, the body is completely different from the Viper, with the only exception being the rounded rear end, although it is hardly Viper-esque. The Copperhead also has some Viper-like taillights, as Dodge did want some relation between the two while making it clear that they were not the same cars.

1997 Dodge Copperhead Rear

Like the Viper, the Copperhead was a two-seater, but the concept car had uniquely-formed seats and a gauge panel mounted in the middle of the dash, which was nothing like the Viper.

1997 Dodge Copperhead: The Viper Competitor that Got Stung continued…

Longtime auto journalist Patrick Rall contributes to Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Rennlist, Club Lexus, F-150 Online, and YotaTech.

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