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No Hellcat for the Viper

by Patrick Rall on

When Tim Kuniskis was speaking with the media at the debut event for the 2016 Dodge Viper American Club Racer, he led into the introduction of the car by talking about how they went about improving the Viper.

Mr. Kuniskis talked about how they made the Challenger the ultimate muscle car with the Hellcat Hemi and how they made the Charger the fastest sedan in the world, also with the Hellcat Hemi. However, when it came to improving the Dodge Viper, dropping in the supercharged 6.2L wasn’t the answer.


While increasing the output of the Dodge Viper from 645 horsepower and 600lb-ft of torque to 707 horsepower and 650lb-ft of torque by swapping from the 8.4L V10 to the 6.2L supercharged Hemi seems like a good idea, the Hellcat Hemi is considerably heavier than the Viper V10. The extra power would make up for that extra weight when it came to straight line acceleration, but the Viper is, and always has been, more than a straight line machine.

Since the first Viper concept was introduced back in the late 1980s, it was always intended to be a proper supercar. The company put as much effort into the handling attributes as they did the power, and through the efforts to make the Viper the best-handling American supercar, both the chassis and the engine are surprisingly light. The  V10 engine was lightened to allow the Dodge engineers to reach the perfect 50/50 weight distribution, part of what makes the Viper a superb road racer. Replacing the V10 with the heavier Hellcat Hemi would throw off that weight balance, hurting handling.


While dropping the current Hellcat Hemi into the Dodge Viper might make it a better drag racing car, it would lower the Viper’s overall performance. Because of this, there is no real chance of seeing a Hellcat Hemi-powered Viper from Dodge, unless the company finds a way to cut down the weight of the supercharged Hemi by a massive amount. Until that happens, we can expect Dodge to continue on with new adaptations of the current V10 architecture. The Viper did, after all, reach the top of the Nürburgring lap time list with the tried and true V10, so the likelihood of seeing a supercharged Hemi Viper at your local dealership anytime soon is small indeed.

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

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