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Viper set for Aussie assault

Power performer: The Viper RT-10 convertible produces 375kW from its normally-aspirated all-alloy big block engine.

Chrysler Jeep Australia is keen to convert the stunning Viper RT-10 to right-hand drive

22 May 2002

CHRYSLER Group's stunning new 8.3-litre V10 Dodge Viper RT-10 convertible appears certain to come to Australia as a local right-hand drive conversion.

If all goes according to plan, engineering work will start next January with production vehicles shipped to Australia from around the start of the second quarter of 2003.

That plan follows up on the local right-hand drive conversion of the current Viper V10, which goes on sale here in September, with 25 cars offered for around $250,000 each.

The new Viper, which starts production in September in the US, offers mind-blowing performance from its 375kW normally-aspirated all-alloy big block engine.

In typical American style, the Viper is big stuff. The boast is that it is a 500/500/500 car. That's 500 horsepower, 500lb-ft of torque and 500 cubic inches - all channelled through a rear-drive chassis via 19-inch wheels.

The plan to locally convert the new generation Viper was confirmed by Chrysler Jeep Australia managing director Judith Wheeler, following a recent product meeting in Detroit.

It was at that meeting that she also presented plans for a right-hand drive supercharged 2.0-litre PT Cruiser.

While Chrysler approved the plan for local Aussie conversion, this whole issue has been shunted aside by a new project for the retro people-mover that has been handed to CJA by Chrysler Group.

It's a project Chrysler has been working on already which it has decided to hand on to its Australian off-shoot. Ms Wheeler refused to reveal the details but said it could bear production fruit by the end of this year.

"They believe we can do it quicker and less expensively in Australia," she said.

Ms Wheeler described the new project as more exciting than the supercharging plan.

A study of both options would establish which was feasible to go ahead.

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