Chrysler Corp. will begin limited production of a two-seat, high-performance Dodge Viper car that reportedly will rival the Chevrolet Corvette, a Chrysler source said.
The source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in an announcement that the No. 3 automaker will begin production of the car in late 1991 would be made Friday in Los Angeles.Such an announcement seems unusual for a company battling shrinking profits and market share and working to cut $1.5 billion from its standing costs by the end of this year.
The source declined to say where the car would be built, but that all major components would be made by Chrysler. The price of the car will not be announced until just before it becomes available, the source said.
The car will be powered by a V-10 engine, according to the source. There have been reports that the car may carry a V-8, but the source said a major aim of the Viper project was development of the V-10, originally conceived for truck use.
According to next Monday's edition of AutoWeek magazine, the V-10 engine is capable of reaching 100 mph from a standing start in less than 10 seconds. A Corvette ZR-1 takes about 11.5 seconds, according to a road test in Road & Track magazine.
The announcement of Viper's production will be during the last of a six-city road show Chrysler has been conducting since March. The program is aimed at boosting interest in Chrysler products and quality.
A concept version of the Viper made its debut in January 1989 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Chrysler Motors President Robert Lutz, design Vice President Thomas Gale and other executives have backed efforts to make Viper.
Gale said last year the Viper was the first project to result from Chrysler's conceptual design and rendering system. The computer-driven system could cut by 25 percent the amount of time needed to bring a totally new car to market, Gale said.