5 Supercars You Didn't Know Were Based On The Dodge Viper
The Dodge Viper wasn't just one of the rawest, most uncompromising sports cars ever to emerge from Detroit. It was also the inspiration for a number of other automobiles that borrowed both its bones and its hulking V10 engine to use as the framework for their own unique designs.
While it's not unusual for a boutique performance car builder to use a production vehicle as a template, the Viper seems to have contributed to more than its fair share of custom models, especially considering how low volume Dodge's in-house exotic was in the first place.
How many different models out there can trace their roots back directly to the king snake? Check out these 5 cars you didn't know were based on the Dodge Viper.
1. Bristol Fighter
It's not unusual for British brands to import American drivetrains and stuff them under the hood of small, nimble sports cars—after all, that's the formula that gave us the original AC Cobra, which in turn inspired the Viper's design decades later. There's a certain poetry, then, in the process being repeated with the Dodge coupe's own 8.0L V10 in the early 2000s, closing the loop on the trans-Atlantic speed trade.
The Bristol Fighter wrapped a 525hp version of the Viper motor in TVR-inspired body work that featured gullwing doors riding on a traditional ladder frame. Built completely by hand, fewer than 15 Bristol Fighters were ever produced. The company claimed a 210 mph top speed from original version of the curvy automobile, with a later 600-plus horsepower model joining the ranks as the Fighter S.
2. VLF Force 1
Henrik Fisker was a force in automotive design for an extended period of years, and he's been responsible for the shape of vehicles as diverse as the BMW Z8 and his own Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid. Never shy about finding a new palette on which to paint his ideas, he paired with VLF Automotive in 2016 to create the Force 1. It was the second VLF model, after having previously unveiled an LS-powered version of the Karma renamed the Destino.
The Force 1 borrowed its 8.4L V10 from the fifth-generation Viper and modified it to produce a whopping 745hp. The car's entire body was fashioned out of carbon fiber, and it pushed its motor mounting points as far away from the front axle as possible. This, in combination with a sophisticated active suspension system, made the car much less of a handful to drive quickly. Even with the involvement of famed auto exec Bob Lutz in VLF's ownership group, only five examples of the Force 1 were ever built.
3. Alfa Romeo Zagato TZ3 Stradale
Corporate cross-pollination can sometimes breed the strangest of offspring, but despite its Alfa Romeo homage and its Dodge mechanicals, the Zagato TZ3 Stradale was produced in 2011, a full three years before the Fiat-Chrysler merger became official.
Design studio Zagato built the TZ3 Stradale in tribute to Alfa Romeo's centennial, making it the street-legal version of the TZ3 Corsa it had put together the year before. Under its Italian-shaped skin the TZ3 is full-on Viper, featuring the chassis, engine, and transmission from ACR-X of the same year. Helping the (slightly detuned) 600hp go down smoother is a more civilized interior, stuffed with leather and carbon fiber but retaining the general look and feel of the original Dodge cockpit. The body, like that of the Bristol Fighter, was also entirely fashioned out of carbon fiber.
The TZ3 Stradale's unusual shooting brake look was en vogue at the time, and was most memorably seen on the Ferrari FF hatchback that went on sale the same year. Nine of the six-figure Zagatos ended up finding customers.
4. Devon GTX
The Devon GTX has the most unusual back-story of any Viper-based supercar. The L.A.-based company made waves at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2009 when it brought the sleek, carbon-fiber coupe to the moneyed masses. Under its swoopy skin it was pure Viper, featuring a standard 650hp version of the Dodge's V10, with plans to build three examples a month moving forward on the exotic's Detroit-sourced platform.
What made Devon unique was the company had tried to buy the Viper lock, stock, and barrel from Chrysler when the company announced it would be putting the model on hiatus following the fourth generation's stop-sale in 2010.
The company wasn't able to scrounge up the cash needed to walk away with the rights and the tooling to the domestic icon, but it decided to forge ahead anyway in developing the GTX. Only two were sold before the company gave up trying to source clean chassis for future production.
5. Chrysler Firepower
The Great Recession robbed us of many things, and one of those was the Chrysler Firepower. Looking for a way to further the prestige of the Chrysler brand without running up massive development costs, the Daimler-led company looked to the Viper not for its V10 but rather its suspension hardware and overall platform.
The end result was a sleek grand touring coupe that offered a long hood, short deck, and a 425hp, 6.1L V8. The concept was shown off at the auto show in Detroit in 2005, but Daimler's grip on the Chrysler purse strings was tight, and the company would be sold for spare parts to Cerberus Capital Management group two years later.
One year after that, the global economic crisis would put the company in survival mode and quash any future plans involving bespoke high performance luxury coupes.
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