The Flame Burns Bright

Written by editor on . Posted in Ignition, Winter 2010

Dear Viper Nation:

To say I am honored to be responsible for managing the great Dodge Brand is an understatement. I feel like only yesterday I was negotiating precious TV time with my folks so I could watch the Dukes of Hazzard … and it wasn’t because of Daisy! It has always been about the cars.

The Dodge Brand has fascinated me for years; it has always done things a little differently. I even have a place in my heart for a few of the K-cars—namely the Omni GLH (Goes Like Hell). But my real love affair with Dodge began in the late 1980s, when the Portofino Concept car made its debut. It was stunning as a supercar but more stunning as a beacon of the future for Dodge.

Shortly thereafter, the Viper Concept roadster made its debut in 1991 and absolutely reoriented my priorities and erased any doubt as to which company I would want to work for as a young designer. I still have the basic optimism in my heart for this great company and feel that we are on the cusp of another great era. I am happy to be surrounded by the most functional and dedicated management team to be assembled in a long time at Chrysler Group LLC. The changes are coming and they are coming fast. We will do all that we can to bring the pride back to this company.  

I also vow to do right by Viper. We have started the 2010 model year off with a bang by beginning to show the variety of very special and ultra-low volume Vipers, culminating with the yet-to-be-announced final edition. After a brief break in 2011, we plan to keep the Viper flame alive for many years to come on the street and race tracks with projects such as our new spec racer series run by the Viper Racing League. The Dodge Viper Cup will feature the fastest spec racer in the world—the purpose-built Dodge Viper SRT10® ACR-X. We will proudly support the new ACR-X with contingency prizes and some long overdue fanfare!

All these years later, and I’m still negotiating for precious time. The difference is today I’m negotiating for a few scarce moments behind the wheel of my personal Viper. For me, it remains all about cars. So stick around—the coming year promises to be one heckuva exciting ride for the car guys and car gals of the Viper Nation!

Ralph Gilles

President and CEO, Dodge Brand

Chrysler Group LLC