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The Dodge Copperhead - 1997 Concept

The Dodge Copperhead concept car was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in 1997.

Dodge Copperhead"If Dodge Viper is credited for re-inventing the Shelby Cobra, then Dodge Copperhead should be credited for re-inventing a car in the tradition of the Austin Healey 3000," said John E. Herlitz, Chrysler Corporation's Vice President of Product Design. "Copperhead will fit comfortably into any sports car enthusiast's garage — and budget."

Dodge Copperhead is a Copper Fire Orange, front engine, rear-wheel-drive, two-seat roadster convertible. While comparisons to the Dodge Viper are inevitable, Copperhead strikes its own distinct image with its sleek dimensions. Compared to its older sibling, the Dodge Viper (also introduced as a show car), Copperhead is three inches (76 mm) narrower, eight inches (203 mm) shorter, and has an extra 12 inches (304 mm) of wheelbase.

"Copperhead will be the sports car of choice for those enthusiasts who like lithe, aerodynamic treatments combined with a low center of gravity," said K. Neil Walling, Chrysler Corporation's Design Director. "We designed Copperhead to look fast by utilizing minimal overhang and pushing the wheels way out to the front and rear corners."

When conceiving the Copperhead, Chrysler designers incorporated proportional lessons learned during the development of Plymouth Prowler, proportions which emphasize a sports car ancestry and street rod heritage. Designer's achieved Copperhead's sleek dimensions by moving the front and rear wheels to the limits of the vehicle's frame. The styling cue is enhanced with cast aluminum wheels (18"x8"/front, 20"x9" rear), making for an almost serpentine vehicle profile. An air scoop grille, deep-set quad headlamps, elongated hood with dual air scoops, drastically-sloped windshield and scaled-down dorsal fin on the rear decklid contribute to the Copperhead's sinuous feel.

Copperhead's interior is designed to complement the exterior and features contoured bucket seats with an unconventional Deep Amethyst snakeskin-like leather finish. The tachometer is placed at the centerline of the driver while gauges, HVAC, radio/cassette controls are smartly placed in the center stack. The center console features a gear shift and door lock/window controls. When viewed in its entirety, the center console and instrument pod has an uncanny likeness to the head of a copperhead snake.

Copperhead's performance is defined by an aluminum block, high-output 2.7 liter four cam V-6 which churns out 220 horsepower (162 kW). The vehicle's powerplant is coupled with a close ratio, five-speed manual transmission, which ensures the necessary power for immediate torque and traction. Copperhead's significant footprint and wide tires (complete with snakeskin tread) provide stability and precise handling.

A short-and-long arm (SLA) coil/shock front and rear suspension provides comfort and handling. With a mere five inches of ground clearance, the Copperhead provides sports car enthusiasts with what they crave most — a true feel for the machine and road combined.

Dodge Copperhead dimensions (inches/mm)

Overall Length: 167.0/4242 dodge copperhead
Overall Width: 72.0/1829
Overall Height: 49.7/1262
Wheelbase: 110.0/2794
Front Track: 60.0/1524
Rear Track: 60.4/1534
Wheels: Cast Aluminum
Front 18 x 8
Rear 20 x 9
Tires: Goodyear
Front P225/40 R 18
Rear P255/40 R 20
Engine: 2.7 Liter, V-6
220 hp (162kW) (ACT)
Drivetrain: Five Speed
Manual Rear-Wheel Drive
Body: Two Door Roadster
Steel Unit-Body
Suspension: Front SLA coil over shock
Semi-Trailing "A" Arm
Brakes: ABS Four Wheel Disc

copperhead drawing

See our main concept cars page.


venomConcept cars are often made so a car’s feel can be evaluated, problems can be foreseen, and reactions of the public can be judged. Some concepts test specific ideas, colors, controls, or materials — either subtle or out of proportion, to hide what’s being tested. Some are created to help designers think “out of the box.” The Challenger, Prowler, PT Cruiser, and Viper were all tested as production-based concepts dressed up to hide the production intent.


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