In 1988 Bob Lutz suggested that Chrysler build a 400 horsepower sports car with no driver assists. Management was naturally skeptical of the plans for a spiritual successor to the Shelby Cobra, but Lutz being Lutz he pushed ahead with the plan anyway. A clay model was created, followed by a full scale prototype in metal. When the prototype was shown at the 1989 Detroit auto show it immediately became the darling of the event. The public gave a hugely positive reaction to the Viper and Chrysler greenlit production.
At the heart of Lutz’s Cobra successor sat an 8.0 litre V10 engine produced by Lamborghini, which was a Chrysler subsidiary at the time. In the pursuit of saving weight the car was delivered without ABS, traction control or a any other driver aids or electronic nannies. In a further tribute to the Cobra, Carroll Shelby drove a Viper as the pace car for the 1991 Indianapolis 500.
The Viper’s weak point (aside from how difficult it was to drive) were its brakes. It could hang with other supercars all day long, but when it came to stopping the Viper was outperformed by just about everything. For the second generation Viper GTS, power was bumped up from 400 to 450 bhp and in 1996 the car was finally given airbags. It would be 2001 before it would come with ABS. Its chassis was stiffened and suspension was also revised all while shaving further weight off the car’s components. The Viper is the most Bob Lutz car that Bob Lutz ever made, and a worthy Cobra successor.