2003 DODGE VIPER COMPETITION COUPE
Scratch the surface of the 2003 Dodge Viper Competition Coupe SRT-10 and you'll find many of the same basic ingredients that made the original an automotive icon. The front-mounted V10 engine remains, but a new bored and stroked aluminum block bumps displacement from 488 to 505 cubic inches. Peak horsepower climbs to 500 at 5,600 rpm, while torque tops out at a nose-flattening 525 pound-feet at 4,200 rpm (with 90 percent of that torque available from 1,500 to 5,600 rpm).
The previous Tremec T56 six-speed manual transmission is retained in the new model, but internal components have been updated to deal with the 2003 model's increased power. This drivetrain rests in an updated chassis that offers a 31-percent increase in torsional rigidity (Dodge claims it's stiffer than the outgoing 2002 GTS Coupe). The Viper's four-wheel independent suspension has also been revised to give the car greater predictability when driven at its limit.
Being the responsible automotive journalists that we are, we didn't drive the Viper at its limit, but we drove a 2003 model back to back with a 2002 RT/10 and can confirm that the new version offers noticeable gains in ride quality and handling. Over rutted pavement, where the old model felt skittish and jarring, the 2003 SRT-10 was composed and confident.