Is the American Dream at Your Chrysler Dealership?

by : Ieuan Knox

It's very hard to 'crack America'. Many have tried and failed, whether it's film, TV or music. For every Ricky Gervais, there's a multitude of unsuccessful suitors, including the likes of Oasis and the Manic Street Preachers. Mention either of those bands in Europe and you'll be inundated with fans. Ask the question in America and no doubt a blank face will point you in the direction of a desert or church.

You see, whilst the world becomes Americanised, the US is very picky about what it accepts onto it's shores - with the one exception of cars. For every Chevrolet or Chrysler dealer there are BMW and Mercedes Benz franchises competing. Europe you see, knows how to build a car and historically, despite Henry Ford getting things rolling with the Model T, America has lagged behind. Therefore, flying in the face of the American Dreamâ„?, European cars dominate the roads around the globe, with the US begging Europe for acceptance of it's motoring offerings.

Well America's deliverance may well come from your local Chrysler dealer, although there are a few stipulations first. You need to be extremely rich, have no children and be prepared to receive whiplash every time you accelerate. Has the Chrysler Grand Voyager been fitted with a turbo where the rear seats should be? No - with a riotous bellow the Dodge Viper is back in town. Ok, so this is a car only the top 1% of the world's population could even consider buying, but it clearly demonstrates that when they put their minds to it, America can build a car that quite simply is a brilliant monster.

The old Viper was conceived and born when Chrysler were in one of their financial crises. Despite this, for approximately $50 million (car design usually cost $1 billion) and only 17 men the Viper was launched and showed little signs of cost cutting. Admittedly you couldn't open the windows and the roof looked like the last time I attempted to build a tent, but under the bonnet was an 8-litre V10 engine that threw 400 horsepower onto the road. Subtlety was not a strong point, but it is widely recognised and loved all over the globe - even if that is thanks to a strong showing on the Gran Turismo racing game.

So what's changed with the latest offering? Well worryingly, Chrysler announced the new car would be more civilised and upon initial inspection this appears so. The windows now go down and then back up again, the tent on the roof has been correctly erected and the pedals can even be adjusted to your shoe size - by electronic means would you believe. Thankfully despite this, the car is as civilised as Borat at a dinner party and Chrysler should be thanked for keeping their cocktail, ten parts whisky and zero parts mixer. Power has rocketed from 400 to 500 horsepower, with the car's weight remaining unchanged. This healthy equation results in 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and a top speed surpassing 190 mph.

If the devil was a car, then look no further. The exhaust bellows and the tyres squeal as they struggle to get any of the power onto the black stuff. The interior is cramped, the materials used are so cheap that having got my calculator out, I can confirm the total is the same as two pints of beer. If you've played Gran Turismo, you'll know the car handles like a hippopotamus on ice and that at the end of any corner you'll be going backwards. The real version shows just how realistic the game is.

It looks like the work of Lucifer too. The car literally bulges with aggression and looks like it's going 150 mph standing still. The front bumper could easily eat a number of small children and the vents on the bonnet look like they could suck a country the size of Wales into the engine. Chrysler's big problem then is who will buy the devil on wheels? Even David Beckham may think the car is too bling, leaving the likes of 10 cent and his rapper friends...oh, 50 cent, my apologies, to foot the bill.

Compare the Viper on paper to a Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini et al and it'll lose. It isn't the fastest; it's not the prettiest and definitely not the best handling. All this though, is like saying "no" to Cindy Crawford because she has a mole. Despite a flaw or two, the Viper is - no arguments please - a supermodel for the road. Yes it's high maintenance, hugely expensive and shouty but isn't that the idea of a supercar? What Chrysler have done is create the perfect monster and show that America has what it takes to compete with Europe's finest. Chrysler and financial crisis will hopefully never be mentioned in the same sentence again.