Remember the original prototypes of the Mercedes-Benz SLS coupe? When we caught them running around Death Valley a few years ago and they were wearing chopped-up Dodge Viper bodywork. At the time, we figured it was nothing more than a case of Mercedes recycling some spare body parts from its corporate partner.
Turns out there is a little more to the story. Inside Line has learned that Dodge was in fact working on a next-generation Viper before the Mercedes project had even started. Dodge engineers had already built an all-aluminum chassis and were working on a completely redesigned suspension setup.
When the Mercedes side of DaimlerChrysler caught wind of the project it figured it would make a good basis for the SLS. The two projects quickly became parallel development programs with Mercedes piggy backing on the work Dodge had already done.
Not too long after that, the Dodge engineers were pulled off the Viper project by Mercedes as the company’s declining financial situation forced it to abandon non-essential programs. Mercedes continued the work and the SLS AMG soon became reality.
Dodge will have a chance to redeem itself when the Viper returns from a short hiatus in a few years, but we suspect the engineers still look at every SLS AMG and wonder what the current Viper could have been.
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