SRT Boss Says Viper Must Not Be Compared to Corvette

The SRT Viper did not enjoy a smooth sales start when it debuted last year, but despite problems, SRT CEO Ralph Gilles said in November that there were no reasons to worry, as the plant had hundreds of orders waiting to be built. Nevertheless, in a recent interview with Automotive News, the executive rejected comparisons with the successful Chevrolet Corvette. “We’ve never tried to be Corvette. We never will be. We’re handmade. It takes 18 hours to paint the stripe on a Viper. We color sand the entire car, inside and outside. All the panels are beautifully finished. We’re trying to build a custom show car that you can own. This is not a disposable device here,” Gilles said. That’s not exactly a delicate statement, is it? He added that SRT’s program to let consumers test drive Vipers is going really well and has helped buyers understand the new Viper. “Unfortunately, people had it in their minds that the car was just an evolution, and it’s not. It’s a whole new machine. It’s direct. It’s handmade. It’s tight,” the executive added. When asked whether the SRT Viper is losing customers because it doesn’t offer an optional automatic transmission, Gilles replied that the company is not working on an automatic gearbox at the moment, but that it’s “open-minded to it.” However, he said the Viper was launched with a manual option only both for an emotional and business reason. “In a way, it’s further distinguishing us because everyone has paddle shifters and we don’t. But at the same time, we’re also seeing now where people are noticing and saying, ‘Wow, it’s like the last driver’s car left.’ That’s exactly what it’s been about all along,” Gilles explained to the publication. By Dan Mihalascu