Chrysler has made some audacious decisions in the course of its history, especially in the 1990s. While its rivals wheeled their show cars off stage and into storage as usual, Auburn Hills actually put some of its most outrageous concepts into production: models like the Plymouth Prowler, Chrysler PT Cruiser (seriously), and most especially the Dodge Viper.
Arriving at a time when V10 engines were practically unheard of, the Viper was the most outrageous move ever cooked up in Auburn Hills. And once they had the ten-cylinder engine on the shelf, the Mopar crew didn’t stop there. They’ve since slotted that big ten-pot powerplant into all manner of vehicles, though most of them sadly never followed their donor into production.
That doesn’t mean we can’t look back at them fondly, and even wonder “what if.” And that’s just what we’re doing with this drive down memory lane, all ten cylinders firing away. Come along for the ride.
1991 Chrysler 300 Concept
Chrysler first showcased the Viper as a concept in 1989, and put it into production in 1992. But just before it did, it displayed the sleek four-door sedan concept you see here. It revived the name 300 that Chrysler had used decades earlier and would use again decades later. But it looked nothing like either. Looking back on it now, it strikes us as the lovechild between a Fisker Karma and Dodge Avenger Coupe. The 300 sedan that began production in 2003 was, and remains, a decidedly boxier affair, all straight lines and a high beltline. More important in this case is that it was powered by the Viper’s V10… all eight liters of it. Only it had room for passengers in the back, too.
1998 Chrysler Chronos Concept
Bridging the stylistic gap between show car and showroom versions of the 300 was the Chronos concept that arrived that arrived in 1998. Now we have to admit we’re stretching it a bit here, because though the Chronos packed a big V10, it was not actually related to the Viper’s. Instead it was pieced together from three 4.7-liter V8s. The resulting 6.0-liter engine produced around 350 horsepower, capped by a big, snarling egg-crate grille.
2003 Dodge Tomahawk Concept
The most bonkers thing Chrysler ever did with the Viper’s engine was to put it into a motorcycle. Well, sorta. The Tomakawk concept actually rolled on four wheels, but they were so closely paired that it looked more like a cycle than a quad. Call it what you will, it was built around the Viper’s V10, which had by 2003 grown to 8.3 liters, putting the six-cylinder Honda Valkyrie and the V8-powered Boss Hoss to shame. Of course Chrysler had no experience with vehicles you ride on instead of in, and the Tomahawk was never intended for production. However nine replicas were built, each selling for half a million dollars in the Neiman Marcus catalog.
The one creation on this list that you could actually buy at your local dealership was the Ram SRT-10. It was a pickup based on the Ram 1500, but with a V10 up front. Now at this point you might be thinking that there already was a V10 offered in the Dodge Ram pickup, and you would be right. Only that engine, long since phased out, was only offered in the larger 2500/3500 Heavy Duty models, and was geared for work, not for play. The Ram SRT-10 was another kind of beast: a performance truck akin to the Ford F-150 SVT Lightning, packing 510 horsepower and a dropped suspension. It was the production version of a concept showcased back in 1996, and was offered in both regular and quad cabs, with a manual or automatic. Fewer than 10,000 were made between 2004 and 2006.
2008 Dodge Challenger SRT10 Concept
What do you do when you have a muscle car and a big engine just sitting there on the shelf? Why, you put the two together, of course! That’s what Dodge did with the Challenger in 2008, ditching the Hemi for the bigger V10 from the Viper. With it, they created a 600-horsepower muscle car… concept. Though never offered for street use, the idea was dusted off again three years later in the form of a Drag Pak that was offered to customers strictly for racing. The disappointment of not being able to put one on the road, however, was softened by the arrival of the Hellcat last year, packing an even more impressive 707 horsepower from a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 and available in either the Challenger coupe or Charger sedan – which, for better or worse, made most of us forget all about the Viper’s V10.