Mopar muscles up with Viper, Charger for SEMA
By Greg Migliore
Though Mopar is never shy about tuning any of Chrysler Group's machines, the spotlight display at SEMA will be perhaps the most impressive car the company has launched in recent memory: the Viper. The Snake returns to Las Vegas fully “Moparized” with a carbon-fiber cross beam that is 50 percent lighter than the factory version. The aluminum and carbon-fiber engine cover gets the Viper's new Stryker logo, there's an aluminum oil filler cap, Mopar coil springs for the suspension and a carbon fiber aero package.
The engine is stock — the 640-hp V10 was deemed adequate — and the exterior is fortified with track pack wheels and an LED fog lamp kit. Inside is Katzkin leather with yellow accents, which complements the bright yellow exterior paint.
Bringing the latest edition of the Viper to SEMA is indicative of the emphasis Chrysler places on the SEMA show, held annually in late October and early November at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The company's aftermarket arm, Mopar, will display more than 500 parts at the show at an exhibit that covers nearly 15,300 square feet.
“This is one of our auto shows where we really show the strength of our brand,” Mopar CEO Pietro Gorlier said at a preview event north of Detroit on Friday morning.
The Viper was only teased in sketch form, but a real-life Charger was one of the highlights of the live display at Mopar headquarters in Center Line, Mich. The Charger Juiced — so named for its orange paint job and potent engine — was perhaps the most impressive exhibit. Mopar dropped a V10 engine that uses parts from Generation III and IV Vipers powerplants to make 650 hp. The Charger also gets a cold-air intake, cat-back exhaust and a metallic copperhead-style hood.
Intriguingly, Mopar will show 20-inch wheels in matte with the copperhead stripe. Company brass say these will be offered as aftermarket rollers for SRT variants of the Challenger and Chrysler 300.
“It's pretty badass,” said Chrysler designer Mark Trostle, who oversees design for SRT, motorsports and Mopar.
Speaking of which, Mopar dropped a 392 Hemi under the hood of a 2013 Ram, a sort of spiritual successor to the V10 hot-rod trucks from early in the last decade. This new Ram gets a cold-air intake, SRT rotors and brake calipers, 22-inch R/T wheels and Mopar blue stripes.
Pound for pound, the most dramatically made-over car was the 500, which was widened and lowered. The curvy look summons vintage Volkswagens, rat-rods and West Coast performance heritage. Called the Beach Cruiser, the car also gets fender flares, old-fashioned-styled rims (they're aluminum but look like stamped steel) and surfboard rack on top.
“I don't have words to explain this car,” Gorlier said.
Keeping with the beach theme, there was also a Jeep Wrangler Sand Trooper with a 5.7-liter Hemi underhood making 375 hp, 42-inch swamp wheels, Fox shocks and LED off-road lights.
Jeep also checked in with a Grand Cherokee Half & Half, which was half stock Jeep and half over-the-top Moparized customizations.
Additionally, the Dodge Dart will be well-represented at SEMA. The Carbon Fire concept has a carbon fiber hood, satin black body kit and 19-inch wheels. A Chrysler 300 blinged-out in luxury trim with a blue pearl coat and 20-inch satin carbon wheel will also be shown.
More Mopar vehicles will be revealed at SEMA, including at least two more Darts from the factory. The brand continues to invest in the show as a way to connect with customers, gauging their preferences and trends.
“We are able to do interpreting of every brand,” Gorlier said.
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