On Thursday night's Autoline After Hours, SRT boss Ralph Gilles sat down with show hosts John McElroy and Peter DeLorenzo, along with Autoblog and AOL Autos staffers to talk all things Viper. Among the interesting tidbits disclosed about the 640-horsepower supercar are plans for a new dealer certification process designed to encourage the sort of purchasing, service and ownership experience that buyers of six-digit cars have come to expect.
According to Gilles:
Off the air, Gilles told Autoblog that Chrysler officials have already approached a number of dealers with a strong record of Viper and SRT sales to discuss how the certification process will work, gaining valuable feedback in the process. A document outlining the new certification program will go out to Dodge dealers next month.
"It's going to be a qualified dealer situation... The ones who do the dealer training in terms of the tech. I want a tech. I want a display car. I want all these things. There's going to be a list. It's not going to be impossible, it's just that someone has to put in the extra effort and say 'I'm an SRT dealer.'"
Chrysler has yet to announce official pricing and the Viper won't go on sale until sometime in the fourth quarter of the year, but that hasn't stopped a queue of customer deposits from piling up. According to Gilles, one particularly strong Viper dealer already has around 90 such deposits in-hand. Considering that Viper sales averaged about 1,600 units in past years, that's a substantial figure.
In other news, Chrysler officials have been making a big point of talking about the 2013 Viper's newfound refinements, from reduced NVH to nicer interior materials and improved drivability thanks to the institution of technologies like stability control and traction control. Gilles says that great care has been taken to ensure the model's core personality still shines through, but given that much of the Viper's mystique is centered on its raw, leg-burning, hairy-knuckled persona, we couldn't help but wonder aloud if the new model's refinements have left room for a stripped-out hardcore version for Viper purists and racers. With raised eyebrows, arms gesturing wildly and stifling a smile, Gilles wryly said: "I love how you think. Next subject!"
To watch the Autoline After Hours episode in its entirety, scroll down.