SRT - that's short for Street and Racing Technology - is the youngest brand in the entire automotive world, created in 2011 as Fiat-owned Chrysler's performance arm. But its story really begins 22 years earlier with the development of the original Viper sports car.
In 1989, noted enthusiast and then-Chrysler president Bob Lutz had the idea of creating a modern version of the iconic Shelby Cobra, a small, no-frills British roadster with an enormous...
American V8 stuffed under the hood. Following an enthusiastic public response to a concept Viper with wild styling and a potent V10, a group of 85 engineers was hand-picked to make the car a production reality. That group, known as "Team Viper," represents first iteration of what would later become SRT.
After producing several more sport-tuned models and undergoing various name changes, the development team finally adopted the SRT moniker in 2004. The SRT treatment, which typically consisted of an upgraded motor, stiffened suspension and aggressive bodykit, was applied to numerous models throughout Chrysler's lineup, with early standouts including the crude but quick Dodge Neon SRT-4 and the powerful Chrysler 300C SRT-8.
In the ensuing years, SRT turned its attention to an increasingly diverse array of vehicles, resulting in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 and the improbable, V10-powered Dodge Ram SRT-8. Throughout it all, the Dodge Viper remained SRT's halo product, a brutish machine with few concessions to comfort but astounding acceleration.
After Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in 2009 with the help of Italy's Fiat, the automaker began a restructuring of its portfolio in order to best utilize its assets. Dodge's Ram pickups were spun off into a new division, and SRT went from a development group and a performance model into a full-fledged brand.
At present, the only model to carry the SRT brand name is the Viper, although SRT-tuned vehicles like the Dodge Challenger SRT are informally considered to be part of its lineup as well. If the Viper - recently redesigned with more comfortable interior and even more power - is anything to go by, SRT has a bright future indeed.