The V10 Legend Introduced with Help from Lamborghini
When the Dodge Viper was introduced in the late 1980s as a concept car, the Chrysler Group was still working in cooperation with Lamborghini so when the Chrysler team needed an engine for their new sports car, they turned to one of the best known performance car companies in the world. The Lamborghini team took two Chrysler 360 cubic inch van engines, cut two cylinders off of one block and four off of the other and then welded together the remainder – creating the engine block for the first Viper V10.
When the Viper hit showrooms around the country in 1992, it packed an 8.0L V10 that delivered 400 horsepower and 465ln-ft of torque in a year where the formerly most powerful American car available had been the Corvette ZR1 with 375 horsepower and 370lb-ft of torque. In addition to packing a bit more horsepower and a ton more torque, the Viper packed a whole lot more “wow factor” with the massive V10 engine. While the Corvette ZR1 was a high performance sports car, the Viper V10 made it a supercar.
The V8 Catches Up to the V10
Over the years, a great deal has changed in the world of high performance cars and while the Viper’s V10 engine has generally maintained at least a small lead over other performance engines from the American automakers, the supercharged 5.8L V8 from the Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang packs 662 horsepower and the C7 Corvette Z06 packs 650 horsepower and 650lb-ft of torque. If nothing else, those two engines show that you can make a street friendly and street legal V8 that will comfortably build the stock power of the Viper V10.
When the gap between the Viper V10 and the most powerful V8 engines in the American performance car segment first got smaller, many fans and critics of the Viper suggested that Chrysler should look to replace the V10 for a smaller, lighter Hemi V8. The problem at that time was that the Chrysler Group didn’t have a Hemi that would pack the power of the V10 while still being production friendly and legal in all 50 states. With the introduction of the supercharged 6.2L Hellcat Hemi, the company now has a V8 that will make at least 600 horsepower and while official numbers haven’t been announced – this is by far the closest that the Chrysler Group engines have ever gotten a V8 to match the Viper V10 numbers. While the difference between the already lightweight 8.4L V10 and the supercharged 6.2L V8 might be minimal due to the various components that go into a modern supercharging setup, this physically smaller engine could play a part in improved handling while also likely being more fuel friendly.
The Company has to do Something to Compete with the Z06
Now that we know that the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 will pack 650 horsepower and 650lb-ft of torque, the Chrysler Group engineers will have to do something to 1-up the newest super-Vette. The SRT team might have a hard time easing more power out of the Viper’s V10 engine without compromising drivability and should that be the case, the Hellcat Hemi – or a new supercharged V8 engine based closely on the Hellcat – could be the answer. With help from their new parent company Fiat, who also owns Ferrari, the Chrysler Group could use supercar technology to help build even more power from the supercharged V8 and for the first time, there could be a factory Hemi-powered Dodge Viper that packs more punch than any V10 beast before.
Of course, they could add forced induction to the current V10 engine family in the future Dodge Viper, but that adds more weight to the front end of the car. The engineers could also increase the displacement of the V10 engine to yield more power, but then you could be pushing the boundaries of fuel efficiency and engine emissions – which are both important factors in the global performance car market even though those factors likely don’t play much of a part in many American supercar buyers’ decisions.
What About That Wow Factor
The only downfall to introducing a V8 Hemi powered Dodge Viper would be the loss of that legendary V10 wow factor. The Viper V10 makes massive power with a massive engine and in addition to everything else, the Viper engine has a very unique sound. Some Viper owners and those who are opposed to the suggestion of a V8 Viper insist that past of the Viper being the Viper is the V10 engine and that removing that would kill part of the car’s spirit. There is no question that a supercharger V8 packs a little less “look at me” quality than the long intake runners of the Viper’s V10, but if we are talking about a supercharged Hemi V8 that is smaller, lighter, more efficient, less expensive and more capable of making huge power numbers without compromising drivability – does that “wow factor” really matter? Tell us what you think about a V8 Viper in the comments below!