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C OVER STORY   High - performance engines


The Evolution of a
Performance Powertrain
The Dodge Viper 8.4 l V10
A quintessential example of an evolutionary design, the Generation V 8.4 l V10 Viper engine that
powers the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR (American Club Racer) features unique technology to make
it the largest displacement and highest torque naturally aspirated engine that has ever seen
production in an automotive application. A low inertia aluminium flywheel, variable valve timing
utilising a novel cam-in-cam system, and a swinging oil pickup are among the unique features
that were developed to allow this engine to deliver the performance necessary for the Viper ACR
to claim 13 track records [1]. ATZworldwide 3/2017 features the aerodynamic concept that has
also contributed to these achievements.


Chris Cowland Joe Johnson

is Director Advanced & is Design Release Engineer for
SRT Powertrain at FCA US LLC the SRT Driveline at FCA US LLC
in Auburn Hillls, Michigan (USA). in Auburn Hillls, Michigan (USA).

Jamie Standring Stephen Parker

is Senior Manager – SRT Power- is Design Release Engineer for
train Engineering at FCA US LLC SRT Base Engine at FCA US LLC
in Auburn Hillls, Michigan (USA). in Auburn Hillls, Michigan (USA).



The current Generation V Viper engine

is the final evolution of the V10 engine
that was released in 1992 for the origi-
nal Viper. In 1992, the goal was simple:
create a high-output engine that would
mark the Viper as one of the most power-
ful cars of the time. That goal has been
preserved throughout the life of the
engine and vehicle, including the current
engine which is SAE rated at 481 kW
at 6200 rpm and 813 Nm at 5000 rpm,
FIGURE 1 2016 SAE rating run (© FCA US) FIGURE 1. Though the architecture and
layout is similar, technology and strategic
engineering has allowed the Viper engine
output to increase 183 kW (61 %) and
189 Nm (30 %) over its 25 year history –
an exceptional feat for a naturally aspi-
rated engine that has also been subjected
to a 95 % reduction in emissions in that
same time period. FIGURE 2 shows the
evolution of the engine from 1992 to 2016.


The cast aluminium cylinder block of

the 8.4 l V10 is a cam-in-block design
laid out in a 90° V format. It is manufac-
tured using a deck-plate honing process
to ensure minimum bore distortion and
hence friction in the assembled state.
Dry liners are a slip fit into the block
prior to honing. The block also utilises a
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C OVER STORY   High - performance engines

are hollow and chrome-plated to reduce

weight and improve wear characteristics.
The exhausts also employ sodium filled
stems to improve the cooling characteris-
tics of the valve. The valves run in sin-
tered metal valve guides.
The variable valve timing (VVT) sys-
tem is unique to a pushrod engine, featur-
ing an assembled cam-in-cam arrange-
ment with 31° of authority – the only one
of its kind found in an automotive appli-
cation. The intake profile is fixed relative
to crank-position while the exhaust is free
to move via an oil operated cam phaser.
The VVT system offers the ability to mini-
mise valve overlap required for cold start
emissions and combustion stability,
whilst allowing for the optimal scaveng-
ing necessary at high loads to meet the
performance targets. FIGURE 3 shows an
FIGURE 2 Evolution of the Viper engine (© FCA US) exploded view of the cam-in-cam design.
Intake and exhaust duration are 266°
and 270°, respectively and intake valve
lift is 14.3 mm with the exhaust opening
deep skirt, and steel 4-bolt main bearing are anodised and coated to increase 13.6 mm. Although the relatively low
caps (2 vertical and 2 horizontal cross strength and scuff resistance. A 24.0 mm engine speed would appear to pose few
bolts) to increase bottom end rigidity. diameter piston pin runs directly in the difficulties from a valvetrain perspective,
The cylinder head uses a 2 valve per aluminium piston pin bosses. the dynamic response of the system
cylinder design resulting in a 72.8 cm3 The Viper utilises an OHV valvetrain proved to be a significant challenge due
wedge style combustion chamber and arrangement. The combustion chamber to the intake valve mass (91 g) and the
10.2:1 compression ratio when combined design and high cam in block location pushrod valvetrain architecture. Consid-
with flat-top pistons. Valve angles are result in relatively short pushrods erable effort was expended both analyti-
12° from the cylinder axis with 52.8 mm operated by roller-lifter followers with cally and on a spin-rig to optimise the
and 40.9 mm diameter inlet and exhaust hydraulic lash elements. The valves are dynamic valvetrain behaviour. To main-
valves, respectively. In order to achieve actuated via shaft mounted investment tain valvetrain stability, 490 N springs
these large valve sizes the intake and cast rockers. Intake and exhaust valves with a rate of 65 N/mm are used.
exhaust valve seat inserts are keyed
together during the assembly process.
To ensure consistency between cylinders
the valve end of the ports are machined FIGURE 3 Cam-in-cam variable valve timing camshaft (© FCA US)
using a 5-axis CNC machining operation.


A forged steel, 5-throw crankshaft com-

bined with the 90° block format results
in a unique, uneven firing interval (90°-
54°-90°-54°…) and an extremely distinc-
tive exhaust note exiting from the twin
side-exhausts. Connecting rods are of
a bushed I-beam design with ultra-high
tensile strength bolts securing the rod
caps. The pistons are forged from AlSi-
CuMgNi (M142P) alloy with a compres-
sion height of 31 mm and feature a totally
flat top without valve clearance notches.
Piston and ring design has been opti-
mised to minimise friction while provid-
ing the necessary gas and oil control seen
under arduous track conditions. Pistons

The lubrication system features an

11 cm3/rev gerotor oil pump which is
driven directly from the crank nose.
­Perhaps unusual in a high performance
vehicle application is the utilisation of
a wet sump system rather than the more
common dry sump arrangement. The
wet sump system offers significant pack-
aging, weight and cost benefits over the
dry sump but does present interesting
oil control challenges in a vehicle capa-
ble of up to 1.7 g cornering forces. In
order to ensure that pressure is main-
tained under the most adverse track con- FIGURE 4 Oil sump
ditions a novel swinging pickup design baffling and pickup
system (© FCA US)
is used. The pick-up pipe is pivoted on
the centerline of the engine underneath
the crankshaft allowing the pick-up to
follow the oil in the sump under hard
cornering events. Significant time was
also put into the baffling system which
assists in keeping oil near the pickup
during the high lateral and longitudinal
accelerations seen during typical track
use. FIGURE 4 shows detail of the pick-
up and baffling arrangements.


The engine uses a composite intake mani-

fold with tuned length intake runners. MANUFACTURING Additionally, the Gen V Viper is one
Earlier generation Viper engines used alu- of the only production super sports car
minium intake manifolds, but the change The Generation V Viper engine is hand still avail­able with only a manual trans-
to composite offered charge temperature assembled at the Conner Avenue Assem- mission, the Tremec TR6060. Due to
reduction and flow improvements result- bly Plant in Detroit, Michigan (USA). this direct focus on driver involvement
ing in elevated volumetric efficiency, and Every engine is dyno tested. The dyno test the entire clutch and shift system was
hence higher power and torque. The comprises a custom designed 42 min cycle designed to optimise performance and feel.
intake re-design also reduced weight by and includes monitoring of critical quality The change to a dual disc clutch increased
over 3 kg for the Generation V engine. parameters prior to release of the engine. torque capacity 17 %, reduced disc inertia
Packaging within the engine bay is 20 %, improved damper rate by 32 % and
extremely tight around the exhaust reduced pedal load: all without sacrificing
­manifolds due to the deep wheel wells feel or performance. A revised shift tower
required for the wide front tyres. The The driveline behind the Gen. V Viper shortened throws 12.5 % and improved
manifolds are a tube and shell design engine, FIGURE 5, requires special con- cross car gate definition and feel.
with centre exits. Exhaust aftertreatment sideration particularly given the engine The transmission features vespel fork
is accomplished using a two stage sys- torque output and track based thermal, pads and hybrid bronze/carbon triple
tem on both banks of the engine – a dragstrip, and 24-hour durability cone synchronisers for 1st and 2nd gears,
0.998 l front ceramic catalyst followed requirements. The Viper uses the first and double cone units in gears 3 to 6 to
by a 0.984 l metallic rear catalyst. Maxi- and only North American application of reduce shift effort and improve durabil-
mum exhaust gas temperature into the an aluminium flywheel. This flywheel ity, as well as a unique high torque input
upstream catalyst is 927 °C. The Viper is 5kg lighter than the steel unit it gear set. Transmission ratios were specif-
achieves US Federal emissions certifi­ replaces; it also reduces rotating iner- ically chosen to minimise 0 to 60 mph
cation for light-duty vehicles with this tia by 40 % and improves clutch dura- time and ensure optimal on-track accel-
arrangement. The catalysts are strategi- bility due to its improved heat dissipa- eration at corner exit of any track in any
cally situated to allow the exhaust to exit tion. It features an industry exclusive gear. FIGURE 6 shows the resulting drive-
in the door sill panels just ahead of the rotary-riveted steel friction face that line ratios. Additionally the optional 0.5
rear wheels, resulting in a race-inspired also saves mass versus traditional bolt- 6th gear ratio improved highway fuel econ-
look and sound of the car. in or crush-rivet designs. omy and reduced interior cruising noise.
MTZ worldwide 03|2017    33
C OVER STORY   High - performance engines

FIGURE 5 Generation V Viper driveline (© FCA US)

Additionally the driveline in the Viper The GTS-R engine was primarily pro- The last GTS-R engine in 2013 was yet
ACR focused on mass reduction by elimi- duction based; in fact the same engine again homologated as an 8.0 l V10 and
nating the need for a differential cooler block casting was used for all 1996 to featured an extreme amount of low end
for track outings under 25 min through 1999 production Viper engines. The torque (nearly 815 Nm at 3800 rpm). Peak
the use of cooling fins on the rear axle engine featured unique main bearing power was generated around 4400 rpm
cover and specially located under-car diameters as well as specialty cylinder- due to the twin 29.6 mm restrictors. This
scoops. The cover also contains ports to head castings, intake system, and a dry output level was achieved on E-85 fuel
allow customers to install a differential sump oiling system. The engine pro- and provided an alternative to the typical
cooler for endurance racing. duced far more torque across the engine high-revving, high-horsepower based
RPM range than its smaller displac­ement race engine. The engine powered the
forced-induction European counterparts. Generation V Viper GTS-R to driver and
Corner exit acceleration was unmatched team championships in 2014. This engine
The Viper engine strategy began with in the GT-2 class. This along with careful has found itself adapted to not only For-
a simple mantra, “There is no replace- fuel consumption strategy allowed the mula-D and World Challenge racing, but
ment for displacement”, resulting in the Viper GTS-R to win 16 FIA GT-2 class also Baja and Offshore Marine Racing
birth of the first Viper V10 as an 8.0-l races as well as three consecutive class applications where privateer efforts con-
engine in 1992. From its simple roots wins at 24 Hours of Le Mans and an tinue to attain championships.
as a production pushrod overhead valve overall win at the 24 Hours of Daytona.
engine it has secured a rich racing pedi- The success of the GTS-R racing engine
gree. Most notably the Viper engine led to further development of Viper racing
has shown its prowess in FIA endur- engines, all even closer to their production The Viper has established considerable
ance  racing. The GTS-R engine was counterparts. Next was the Competition marks in its 25-year lifetime; with produc-
first homologated in 1996 as an 8.0-l Coupe in 2003, a 8.3-l adaptation; fol- tion car track records at the most note-
engine for the FIA GT-1 class. The lowed by the Viper ACR-X engine, a 8.4-l worthy tracks in the world (Nürburgring,
engine was significantly restricted to version in 2010; and finally the Genera- Laguna Seca, and many others) and wins
limit power. In 1997 the same 8.0-l tion 5 based IMSA GTLM homologated at Le Mans in the 1990s. With the push for
engine was adapted to the FIA GT-2 GTS-R 8.0 l, and the unrestricted GT3-R CO2 emissions reduction and downsized
class with even smaller restrictors. 8.4-l engines in 2013. boosted engines it is unlikely that a large
displacement, naturally aspirated engine
will see light of day in an extreme perfor-
mance road car ever again. However the
Generation V Viper ACR, and its 481 kW
and 813 Nm output, demonstrates that
supposedly “old-school” powertrain
options can compete successfully with
today’s ultra-high technology powertrains
as seen in some competitors vehicles.

[1] 2016 Dodge Viper ACR Is Undisputed Track
Record King. Online: https://www.scca.com/
is-undisputed-track-record-king, access:
FIGURE 6 Driveline ratios (© FCA US) 16 December 2016

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