Is The 650 HP Corvette Z06 The Final Nail In The Viper's Coffin?

The latest Dodge (née SRT) Viper is one of the most visceral and memorable performance cars I have ever driven. It's loud, angry, unbelievably fast, and completely worthy of the Viper name. There's just one big problem: not a lot of people are buying it. And now I wonder if the 2015 Corvette Z06 is about to finish it off.

Last week we learned that the supercharged Z06 will have 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, more than we originally anticipated, making it the most powerful car General Motors has ever built. It's also now more powerful than the Viper by 10 horses and 50 pound-feet of torque, and it does so with two fewer cylinders and a blower.

I'm just gonna call it now: the Z06 is probably going to be the faster car.

Motor Trend quoted the Viper's zero to 60 mph time at 3.4 seconds, and the base Corvette Stingray is in the ballpark by doing the same dash in 3.8 seconds. Now add nearly 200 horsepower thanks to a supercharger and other tweaks. All of a sudden, the Z06 seems unstoppable.

Last year I said that the Corvette Stingray and Viper don't really compete with one another, especially in terms of price. But as the months dragged on, I'm starting to think they just might.

After all, while the Viper is a wonderfully insane beast of a car, you can get something like 80 percent of its performance for almost half the price when you go with the Stingray. That may be enough for performance car buyers who aren't committed Viper Guys. (You know the type.) A very well equipped Stingray can be had in the low $60,000 range, whereas the Viper starts at $102,000. That's a lot of coin, especially when we're talking about American sports cars that may not be seen as prestigious as offerings from Jaguar or Porsche.

Despite some extremely positive press, the Viper's sales have struggled since it launched. Car sales data website Good Car Bad Car reports Dodge typically only moves between 40 and 60 a month. They've never even cracked 100 sales in a month.

The Corvette, on the other hand, has been selling fantastically, with more than 3,000 Corvettes moved every month fairly easily since the fall. Even with the nasty winter that never seemed to end, they still sold 2,261 in January. Stingray sales figures have far exceeded what its predecessor the C6 was doing in recent years.

The new Corvette has been a solid hit for GM, but the Viper really hasn't done the same for Chrysler. I still love the Viper because it's certifiably nuts, but having driven both I still think the Corvette is the better overall value.

What's going to happen when Chevy comes along with a Z06 that's even more powerful and very likely faster than the Viper? Will SRT have to up their game, or will this be it for the snake?