The Dodge Copperhead concept car, perhaps a perfect stablemate for the Dodge Viper, was unveiled at the 1997 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
If Dodge Viper is credited for re-inventing the Shelby Cobra, then Dodge Copperhead should be credited for re-inventing a car in the tradition of the Austin Healey 3000, said John E. Herlitz, Chrysler Corporation’s Vice President of Product Design. Copperhead will fit comfortably into any sports car enthusiast’s garage — and budget.
Dodge Copperhead is a Copper Fire Orange, front engine, rear-wheel-drive, two-seat roadster convertible. While comparisons to the Dodge Viper are inevitable, Copperhead strikes its own distinct image with its sleek dimensions. Compared to its older sibling, the Dodge Viper (also introduced as a show car six years ago), Copperhead is three inches narrower, eight inches shorter, and has an extra 12 inches of wheelbase.
Copperhead will be the sports car of choice for those enthusiasts who like lithe, aerodynamic treatments combined with a low center of gravity, said K. Neil Walling, Chrysler Corporation’s Design Director. We designed Copperhead to look fast by utilizing minimal overhang and pushing the wheels way out to the front and rear corners. Copperhead offers another exciting design proportion for the Dodge brand.
When conceiving the Copperhead, Chrysler designers incorporated proportional lessons learned during the development of Plymouth Prowler, proportions which emphasize a sports car ancestry and street rod heritage. Designers achieved Copperhead’s sleek dimensions by moving the front and rear wheels to the limits of the vehicle’s frame. The styling cue is enhanced with cast aluminum wheels (18×8/front, 20×9 rear), making for an almost serpentine vehicle profile. An air scoop grille, deep-set quad headlamps, elongated hood with dual air scoops, drastically-sloped windshield and scaled-down dorsal fin on the rear decklid contribute to the Copperhead’s sinuous feel.
Copperhead’s interior is designed to complement the exterior and features contoured bucket seats with an unconventional Deep Amethyst snakeskin-like leather finish. The tachometer is placed at the centerline of the driver while gauges, HVAC, radio/cassette controls are smartly placed in the center stack. The center console features a gear shift and door lock/window controls. When viewed in its entirety, the center console and instrument pod has an uncanny likeness to the head of a copperhead snake.
Copperhead’s performance is defined by an all-new, aluminum block, high-output 2.7 liter four cam V-6 which churns out 220 horsepower. The vehicle’s powerplant is coupled with a close ratio, five-speed manual transmission, which ensures the necessary power for immediate torque and traction. Copperhead’s significant footprint and wide tires (complete with snakeskin tread) provide stability and precise handling.
A short-and-long arm (SLA) coil/shock front and rear suspension provides comfort and handling. With a mere five inches of ground clearance, the Copperhead provides sports car enthusiasts with what they crave most — a true feel for the machine and road combined.