Friday, October 1, 2010 02:35
From the Department of We Knew It Was Too Good to Last: 2012 Dodge Viper concept shown to dealers looks like an Alfa. The new Dodge (should we call it Dodgetto, or Alfa Dodgio) and Chrysler (no longer Mercedsler, now Chrysler Romeo) just rolled out the new Viper at a dealership intro—gen-five, as it were—and hey, look, that’s an Alfa!
Not exactly. Well, possibly exactly, not pretty much. Remember badge engineering? The saddest examples were probably indistinguishable ‘80s GM front-drive products like the ChevOldsBuPontMaliCutlaCent 6000 Supreme, but everyone’s doing it. Mazda or Mitsubishu pickups look familiar? How about that small Saab wagon a few years ago? Even the guys at Porsche/Volkswagen (oops, Volkswagen/Porsche) and all their offspring share stuff all over the place (more than they’ll admit). Perhaps boring old badge engineering has gotten an American icon all mussed up too.
Lo and behold, a pillar of American performance—the Dodge Viper, big stick, road-course killer, overpowered thug in figure skates—is being reintroduced, but it sounds to not be itself. Could anything with traction control, sound deadening, “upscale” appointments (sounds like “fat”) or “moving away from race car image” be a Viper? Hmm, there’s water down at Chrysler Romeo.
The end of the fourth-gen Viper was an inauspicious thing, and that the entire platform and assembly machinery wasn’t sold in toto to a variety of bidders was a strange bit of theater in its own right. It would not be at all surprising for the blatantly self-serving Pickle administration to kill off one sports car to protect another they had a stake in (Government Motors’ Corvette), unless there were other forces at work, including the folks at Alfa seeing the Viper name as a suitable device to improve sales numbers of the oft-delayed Alfa Romeo 8C platform.
The 8C is a pretty attractive car—too bad it can’t remain what it is, because a Viper it ain’t. Suppose the same goes for the Viper. RIP.