From The Canberra Times.
ARRANGEMENTS are proceeding which are almost certain to put the jaw-dropping Chrysler Viper on sale in Australia late next year. Although the low-slung, V10-powered coupe is built only in left-hand drive, it is one of two cars for which Chrysler Australia managing director, Judith Wheeler, has received official approval from its United States' head office in Michigan to convert into right-hand drive in Australia. "We submitted separate business cases to the (Chrysler) Corporation for the Viper and the Sebring convertible and both have been approved," Ms Wheeler said.
"We've done our sums carefully and we're satisfied that this is a viable venture provided it is done properly.
"The next step is to choose a company here which can make the (right-hand drive) conversions to the high quality standards we would require." Chrysler Australia has narrowed its choice down to three conversion companies and aims to set a timetable of production to put both cars on sale here late next year. Prices and specifications won't be determined until closer to the on-sale date but expect the 340kW Viper to go on sale here in its premium, high-performance form. Ms Wheeler dismissed the Ford Mustang - which is converted to right-hand drive by Tickford Vehicle Engineering in Melbourne - as the Viper's logical competitor.
"It (the Viper) is a highly aspirational product; I think it would appeal more to the type of customer who wants the performance level of a Porsche or a BMW M3," Ms Wheeler said. And to maintain the Viper's exclusivity, Chrysler would aim at selling less than 100 a year, offered through only a handful of specially appointed dealers.
"That's for obvious reasons; there are only a certain number of dealers who would have the resources and capability of selling this type of car at this price.
"Also there are servicing considerations - the specialised service tools for the Viper costs around US$20,000 a set."
Ms Wheeler scotched media reports that Chrysler's light pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles - the Dakota, Durango and Dodge RAM - were also under consideration for right-hand drive conversion in Australia. However, she admitted to keeping a close eye on how well sales of the newly released Ford F-series proceed.