The design philosophy behind the Dodge Viper SRT10 is exactly what you would expect from a race car designer trying to pry as much possible power out of a car: make the engine bigger; make it more efficient; and run it at higher revs. The latest generation of the Viper SRT10, which premiered in the 2008 model year, does all of those things, and it does them well, cranking out 600 horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque.
How much bigger is the engine? Well, the V10 has only been increased by 0.1-liters, to a total of 8.4-liters over the previous engine. However, the block has been redesigned and fitted with improved water jackets, which keep it running cooler, and has been fitted with pistons from the SRT8′s V8 hemi engine, which boosts the compression ration from 9.6:1 to 10.2:1. Individually, these improvements are not incredibly significant, but together they make an impact.
How do you make a V10 behemoth more efficient? For the Viper, it’s all about air. The intake has a higher-flow air cleaner and dual throttle body system (another acquisition from the V8 hemi), as well as computer-milled intake runners and combustion chambers in the cylinder heads. These allow for a 20% increase in air flow. The exhaust valves now run on a variable timing that allows overlap through a 40 degree range, and the exhaust sidepipes have been redesigned for a 20% flow increase and also weigh less than their predecessors.
Now the big one: the higher rev limit. All of the features mentioned above help the engine run more efficiently and handle higher levels of heat and pressure. What pushes this engine over the top is a combination of three things: first, aircraft-grade connecting rods and other fasteners mean that the components of the engine can physically handle moving fast enough; second, a larger oil pump taken from the Viper Competition Coupe has been installed which features a swinging pickup, meaning that proper oil pressure can be applied regardless of RPMs and g-inducing turns; and third, the intake rockers have been investment-cast, meaning that they can resist inertia in the valvetrain and function with greater and more accurate speed.
All of this increased power also requires increased chassis, suspension and steering modifications, and the Viper SRT10 doesn’t lack in those departments. Stiffened front and rear springs, stronger anti-roll bars, camber and caster alignment adjustments, more aerodynamic body panel designs, and a revised transmission all make appearances on the car.
All of these incredible advancements lead to the main downfall of the Viper SRT10. Take the car out on a track, and you’ll have the time of your life, take it out on the road, and you’ll be let down (unless you want to risk very high-priced speeding tickets). Is the engine more powerful? Yes, but halfway through fourth gear you’ll already be at the speed limit for major highways. Is it more efficient? You bet, but when driving at legal speeds getting enough air flow to the engine was never really a problem. Can you rev higher? Yep, and there’s a great torque band, but you’ll rarely jump past four or five thousand RPM, and that will only be in first and second gear if you want to accelerate quickly, because after that, you’ll be at the speed limit.
When all is said and done, the SRT10 is great as a track vehicle, but if you want an everyday road car, there are better options for the $92,000 you’d spend on one of these.