Chrysler decided to end Viper, but it has again marked its presence among auto aficionados

Saturday 21 April 2012, 11:08 AM by

After the unveiling ceremony of 2013 SRT Viper earlier this month at the New York Auto Show, Ralph Gilles, Head, Chrysler's SRT performance division, was seen in the car cleaning his tears and trying to control his emotions. Few days after the ceremony, Gilles said, “All of the trials and tribulations of the prior years, it all came to me all at once.”

Along with controlling company’s unit accountable for Viper, Gilles is also leading the entire designing section of the company. He joined Chrysler in 1992 and since then is assisting company in developing iconic vehicles, which includes the Chrysler 300 and Ram truck. However the come back of 2013 Viper is quite astonishing as the company once considered this car as a discontinued model, which amazingly came back in market.

The car was launched in 1992 and was known as V 10 powered Dodge Viper among its followers. Since its launch, the car had an enthusiastic base of fans but it never emerged as a best seller. The V 10 powered Dodge Viper was quite famous in the market because of its raw power, long hood and gaping between the air vents. At that time, the car was priced around $100,000. However by the end of 2008, the company was shrunken and was almost close to its end.

The then owners of the company decided to sell the business of Chrysler in consideration for much needed cash. Gilles was told to assist the sale of his one of the iconic design that he shaped and loved the most. However, devoid of a major change in design, the Viper required a considerable investment to keep it place competitive in the market. Witnessing the reality, the interest from able bidders was substantially reduced and the Viper was left alone to extinct. Gilles said, “The mood around Chrysler at that time was pretty sad.”

Since the company had no investment to manufacture new cars, several engineers were engaged on Viper left Chrysler. Thereafter, the company faced bankruptcy and Cerberus left. In June 2009, the owner of Fiat Sergio Marchionne stepped in the whole scenario. Upon this, Gils said, “It wasn't until the new management came in that we looked at everything we had and I thought it was a good idea to say 'Hey, we have this car. But when Marchionne, whose Fiat Group also includes Ferrari, tried the Viper, he wasn't terribly impressed.”

Gilles decided to redevelop a business case for the all-new Viper. However for being a new car, Viper also required to make some money. Gilles said, “In the old days, we could do that car at a loss as a huge image play. We told [former Viper engineers] the Viper might come back, and they immediately asked to be re-employed."

Finally, a new Viper was rolled out in summer of 2010 when Gilles and his team mates introduced a full-sized model that decided the fortune of Viper.

Adrresing Marchionne, Giles said upon the launch, “He looked at it unlike any CEO I've ever seen look at a car. He looked at it like it was a work of art, a beautiful painting.”

At last the car was finally unveiled at the New York Auto Show, which was assimilated by an all aluminium engine that generates maximum power of 640 bhp. In ceremony, Gilles said, “This time it's a bit different. It’s an actual contender in the supercar arena.”

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