Last year, his first full calendar year as president and chief executive of the Dodge automotive brand, Tim Kuniskis spent time at two massive Viper owners’ homecoming-style events. He wanted to talk to them about their experiences and their expectations for what might come next.
But instead of just talking about their cars, Viper owners wanted Kuniskis to see their cars. They wanted, Kuniskis said, “to show you what they did to their car to make it their custom car, from a license plate to the interior to the paint.”
What each owner seemed to want, the brand’s leader realized, was a car that was unique.
“That sparked an idea,” Kuniskis said, explaining that since, unlike other cars, every Viper is built by hand, from its engine to the chassis to the interior, and they’re even painted one at a time by hand, and since the car had been in production through several generations and thus “we had a toy chest” of possible components, why not let customers create a truly one-of-a-kind Viper and get it built right on the Dodge assembly line?
Go to www.driveSRT.com/Viper and click “get started” on the Viper GTC Customizer, which allows you to build your Viper from among what Dodge says are 25 million build combinations, including 8,000 exterior paint color options, 24,000 custom stripe colors, 16 interior trims, 11 wheel options, seven aero packages, four suspension options and three brake packages.
Once you’ve made your selection (be sure to use the 360-degree interior view tool and zoom in to see the grain of the leather and carbon fiber), you can download a PDF of your car to save and to share – and you can pick from among various backgrounds and angles for that PDF image, which includes a specs sheet for your unique Viper.
You can stop there, or you can actually buy a 2015 Viper GT (MSRP of $94,995) and get it equipped to your specific and unique specifications. Do that, and nobody else can duplicate your choices – including your specified shade of paint color – during the entire 2015 model year. Your car is a true one of one.
Other than the cost of the various options, there is no extra charge for the unique build. But your car does come with a personalized instrument panel badge, concierge service (meaning you can take delivery at the factory), and access to a special Viper Ambassador Owner’s Portal so you can track your car’s assembly.
Because colors look different on different computer screens, you can go to a Dodge dealership and look at a paint chip of your selected color, and Dodge also will send you a flat piece of metal sprayed with that color.
If you’re still happy, next you’ll get a 1:18 scale Viper-shaped “speed form” sprayed in your color so you can take it outside and see how the color looks in three dimensions in the sunlight.
If you’re still happy, you lock in your order and your car starts its hand-built assembly process. And it does so even if you’ve chosen to paint it a strange shade of green with pink racing stripes.
As Kuniskis noted, a Viper is not a car that anyone needs, but if someone wants one, Viper owners can buy anything they want, and besides, it is their car, a unique car, truly a one of one.
Having driven an earlier iteration of a Viper, it is just a sensational motor car. A brute of a thing that will keep you smiling the next day.