SRT CEO Ralph Gilles Says Viper Isn’t A Corvette


SRT CEO Gilles Says Viper Isn't A Corvette
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Maybe this is what the boss has to say when your competition is smashing you in the sales – and critical reviews – departments.

“We’ve never tried to be Corvette. We never will be. We’re handmade. It takes 18 hours to paint the stripe on a Viper. We color sand the entire car, inside and outside. All the panels are beautifully finished. We’re trying to build a custom show car that you can own. This is not a disposable device here.”

Those are the words of SRT CEO Ralph Gilles during a recent interview with Automotive News.

To Corvette fans, that might sound like a little sour grapes.

After all, while the Corvette has been selling like hotcakes since its release in September, the Viper has had to cut production since its less than critically acclaimed redesign debuted last year.

Still, Gilles told Automotive News he’s not worried about the Viper because the plant still has hundreds of orders to build, Gilles said.

What else can he say?

Gilles also said SRT’s consumer test drive program has been crucial in helping customers understand that the new Viper is more than just an evolution.

“It’s a whole new machine. It’s direct. It’s handmade. It’s tight,” Gilles said.

Of course, not as tight as that “disposable” Corvette Stingray, according to media reviews of the two cars.

Gilles also maintains that the Viper doesn’t need an optional automatic transmission, though the company remains “open-minded to it.”

He maintains that the Viper, while ignoring paddle shifters that everyone else seems to offer, is distinguishing itself from the competition.

“We’re also seeing now where people are noticing and saying, ‘Wow, it’s like the last driver’s car left,’ ” he said. “That’s exactly what it’s been about all along.”

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