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Mopar Concept Vehicles From SEMA Show Hit the Streets
By John Stewart
Auto writers get their hands on a MOPAR-enhanced Dodge Viper a week after it appeared at the 2012 SEMA Show.
The Jeep “Sand Trooper” had some parts, such as a MOPAR 5.7L crate engine, which enthusiasts can order, and some that were strictly prototypes, such as the beadlock wheels.
The Dart “Slingshot” has internal roll cage and other upgrades that make it suitable for autocross use.
The assembled press also had a chance to drive two Fiat 500 cars that had been extensively restyled.
Pietro Gorlier, president and chief executive officer – Mopar brand service, parts and customer care, Chrysler Group LLC, last week invited a group of car writers to experience some of the concept cars that had been on display at the 2012 SEMA Show. The cars spanned a wide range of tastes and visions, but many sported parts that could be soon ordered through Mopar dealers, or even ordered now.
“We’re here today because we want to extend the SEMA season,” says Gorlier. “Every year, we put these dream vehicles on the SEMA Show floor for a full week, and then pack up our toys and take them home. This year we weren’t ready for the fun to stop.”
Lead designers and engineers were also in attendance to discuss the basis of each concept and hint at which parts were likely to become available as Mopar offerings. A number of attending journalists took advantage of the rare opportunity to get behind the wheel and actually drive the SEMA display concept vehicles. One of the most compelling was the SRT Viper, which had been further enhanced for track use. The prototype vehicle built for the SEMA Show appears far more sophisticated than the original performance car, which has been described as “raw and unforgiving.” A carbon-fiber ground effects package, including chin spoiler, were said to be functional prototypes that could create up to 500 lbs. of downforce at top speed, which for a Viper, is something close to 200 mph. Also conspicuous was a GoPro camera mounted behind the seats. Dodge recently reported that after three years, the Viper supercar is again available at dealers, and ’13 SRT Viper packages can now be ordered.
Other SEMA concept vehicles on hand that day included the Dart “Slingshot” (an autocross setup), a luxury Chrysler 300 with 20-in. wheels and Katzkin seats, and the Wrangler “Sand Trooper,” a ’12 JK with 5.7L Mopar crate engine, portal axles, prototype beadlock wheels and a matte tan finish. Like the other vehicles, the Wrangler’s equipment included some production parts that can be ordered through Mopar and some prototypes that may or may not make it into production.
“SEMA provided a great opportunity for us to experiment with these vehicles,” Gorlier noted. He reaffirmed Mopar’s commitment to making performance parts for enthusiasts as a primary mission, adding, “When we’re designing the car, we’re working on performance parts at the same time as well.”