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The Future Still Looks Bleak, However

Dodge Viper GTS-R 2017 sales
image via Dodge.

While it’s easily to believe that the Dodge Viper was discontinued due to low sales, that’s not really the truth. Ultimately, the mighty Viper was bitten by a bigger snake: The Feds. By law, Dodge could no longer legally sell the Viper in its (final) form.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards regulation #226 states that all vehicles must feature side curtain airbags by 2017. But the Viper, with its already restricted ergonomics, didn’t have the headroom to fit the required safety system. And while a cost figure was never made public, FCA found the business case to completely redesign the roof of the Dodge Viper to be unviable. This forced the American sports car to meet an untimely end.

“It went out on a high,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of FCA Passenger Cars, pointing to the track records set by the Dodge Viper ACR, several of which are still standing. “Will be ever see another? I don’t know. TBD.”

Kuniskis was on hand to reveal the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show last week.

Last summer, head of FCA Design Ralph Gilles mentioned that he’d simply like to see the Viper come back “in his lifetime,” which paints a bleak picture for anybody holding out for one.

A few years ago, then-CEO Sergio Marchionne suggest that the Viper could return on a new architecture that’s compliant with arbitrary safety standards that new vehicles must adhere to. But it’s been a few years since, and things don’t seem to have gone anywhere. Moreover, Dodge has been able to focus its efforts on its one-two punch muscle car offering: the two-door Challenger and the four-door Charger.

By no means will they ever stand in for the Viper, but with as much as 797 horsepower available, strong sales, and strong margins, the Challenger and Charger continue to carry the performance torch for the brand. Holding the same theme is the Dodge Durango, which currently comes with as much as 475 horsepower, three rows of seats, and a towing capacity of 8,700 pounds. The American performance brand is expected to reveal the Durango SRT Hellcat at the 2020 New York Auto Show, which will be the fastest three-row SUV from any automaker.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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