Question of the Week: Should SRT build a lower cost, lower performance Viper to battle the base Corvette?

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Pre-production 2013 SRT Viper model at Gingerman Raceway, Sept.

Since the dawn of the Viper era back in the early 1990s, budget minded Mopar lovers have been begging for an “entry level” version of the Viper with less power and a price tag that would compete with the base Chevrolet Corvette. There have even been rumors that the company was working on Viper with a slightly different look that would pack one of the available Hemi V8s but obviously, none of those rumors have ever come to fruition. Now that the new SRT Viper has been introduced with a base price that tickles the $100,000 barrier – Mopar fans are pleading more than even for a Chrysler Group 2-seat sports car that would take on the base Corvette in both price and performance.

The ideal package would be a 2-seat sports car built on the Viper platform but less expensive (and heavier) materials combined with a Hemi V8 rather than the powerful V10 would make this dream car less expensive and less powerful than the SRT Viper. Figure, the new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette has 460 horsepower and 465lb-ft of torque while weighing around 3,300lbs. The current base model Viper (non-GTS) weighs around 3,300lbs and the 6.4L Hemi from the current SRT8 lineup offers 470 horsepower and 470lb-ft of torque. The Hemi-powered Viper could even cost a bit more than the base C7 Vette and there is no doubt that some consumers would pick this affordable Mopar sports car rather than the new Corvette.

One of the problems with introducing a lower performance, low cost version of the Viper is that one of the key aspects of the Viper – and of every true supercar – is the exclusivity that comes with a low volume, high priced car. The odds are good that if you are reading this, you have had more than one occasion in your life where you have said “wow… there’s a Viper”. At the same time, how often have you said “wow… there’s a C6 base Corvette?” I’d guess not very often. That wow factor is one of the attributes allowing the company to charge as much as they do. If there was a V8 powered Viper that cost somewhere in the ballpark of $55,000, it would detract from that wow factor since there would unquestionably be many more Vipers on the road.

That would seem like a good thing to most people who are interested in a $55,000 Mopar semi-supercar but it would almost surely have a negative impact on the sales of the current Viper. In short, the company would much rather sell a bunch of cars with a price range of $100-125k than sell twice as many at half the cost since making twice as many cars would take twice the work while likely not bringing in twice the revenue. There is also the concern of production constraints, meaning that it cannot be assumed that the Connor Avenue Viper plant could make more than twice as many cars without further investment by the company.

So, with this reasoning in mind, should Chrysler work to introduce some sort of higher volume, lower performance and lower price sports coupe based on the Viper or should the company leave things the way that they are now and keep that high level of exclusivity with the mighty Viper? Click here to head into the forum to tell us what you think!

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