Dodge Viper/SRT Viper (1991-present)
Breaking out of the 1980’s Ameri- can sports car style, Chrysler de- signed the Dodge Viper to resemble the 1970’s American muscle car.
The Dodge Viper concept debuted at the 1989 Detroit Auto Show and in a very short turn-around time, it replaced the Dodge Intrepid as the pace car on the Indianapolis 500 racetrack in 1991. The Viper de- manded attention from the industry and it gave the American market a new sports car with a bold attitude.
The 1991 Viper is also the first automotive application of carbon fiber sheet molded composite (SMC). The design included resin transfer molded (RTM) fiberglass panels and a SMC one-piece clamshell hood. In 2003 the Viper team worked with Meridian Automotive Systems (no longer in business) and Quantum Composites, Bay City, Mich., to use carbon fiber SMC, which at the time was exclusively used for exotic and racing cars, to integrate carbon fiber components on a low-volume pro- duction vehicle.
In 2009, Chrysler nearly sold the Viper to avoid bankruptcy but it couldn’t part with the fiberglass legend. Today Chrysler is working with Fiat Industrial S.p.A. (the two companies will merge under an un- disclosed name by end of 2014) to re- structure the organization and keep the Viper. In fact, the new 2013 SRT Viper was unveiled at the New York Auto Show in April and proved to the market that America still respects this composite supercar.