Chrysler's Viper Overruns Auto Magazine Covers

Sweeps Automobile, Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Road & Track and Autoweek

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Magazine editors usually want to differentiate their covers and outdo the competition, but Chrysler's SRT Viper has run that urge into the ground for one month at least, appearing on the cover of four auto monthlies simultaneously.

The Viper, an American icon that was resurrected as a concept by Chrysler even while the company was still on life support in 2009, boldly struts its fiery red sheet-metal stuff on the covers of Automobile, Car and Driver, Motor Trend and Road & Track magazines in issues that hit newsstands this week. They closely follow the April 16 issue of Autoweek, which featured the Viper on the cover with the line "Second Coming of Awesome!"

Autoweek, an Ad Age sibling, was able to distribute copies of that issue in goodie bags at the New York International Auto Show a few hours after the Viper was unveiled. Autoweek Editor Wes Raynal said that if he hadn't been able to run the Viper cover first, he probably wouldn't have run it at all. "But as it was, the cadence worked out just right for us," he said.

"It's very rare that this happens," said Jean Jennings, editor-in-chief at Automobile. The last such occurrence might have been four years ago, when the new Dodge Challenger was introduced.

Chrysler's PR and marketing arms contacted Ms. Jennings and the other magazines about the Viper in January as it planned the car's debut at the New York show. Anticipation was already running high.

"The companies know they don't have a lot of shots at covers," Ms. Jennings said. "They knew the Viper is going to be a cover and that they can't sell it to just one magazine, 'cause it'll piss off the others."

Why the Viper, a V10-powered, ubermuscle car that will only be made in limited quantities?

"It was the hottest car at the time and the hottest car at the New York show," Ms. Jennings said.

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