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Originally engineered to be a performance car, the Viper had no exterior-mounted door handles or key cylinders and no air conditioning (however, this was added as an option for the 1994-95 models, and climate controls featured a "snowflake" icon, which indicated a potential setting for the A/C). The roof was made from canvas, and the windows were made from vinyl using zippers to open and close, much like the Jeep Wrangler.
However, the Viper was still equipped with some domestic features, including manually-adjustable leather-trimmed sport bucket seats with lumbar support, an AM-FM stereo cassette player with clock and high fidelity sound system, and interior carpeting. Aluminium alloy wheels were larger in diameter due to the larger brakes. A lightweight fiberglass hard roof option on later models was also available to cover the canvas soft roof, and was shipped with each new car. There were also no airbags, in the interest of weight reduction. Adjustable performance suspension was also an available option for most Vipers.
The engine weighs 323 kg (712 lb) and is rated at 400 hp (406 PS; 298 kW) at 4,600 rpm and 630 N⋅m (465 lb⋅ft) of torque at 3,600 rpm. Due to the long-gearing allowed by the engine, it provides fuel economy at a United States Environmental Protection Agency-rated 12 mpg‑US (20 L/100 km; 14 mpg‑imp) in the city and 20 mpg‑US (12 L/100 km; 24 mpg‑imp) on the highway. The body is a tubular steel frame with resin transfer molding (RTM) fiberglass panels. The car has a curb weight of 1,490 kg (3,280 lb) and lacks modern driver aids such as traction control and anti-lock brakes. The SR I can accelerate from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 4.2 seconds, 0–161 km/h (0–100 mph) in 9.2 seconds, can complete the quarter mile in 12.6 seconds at the speed of 183.1 km/h (113.8 mph) and has a maximum speed of approximately 266 km/h (165 mph). Its large tires allow the car to average close to one lateral g in corners. However, the car proves tricky to drive at high speeds, particularly for the unskilled driver.
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