Chrysler's iconic Dodge Viper sportscar brand may soon be on the block, the automaker said on Wednesday.

"Chrysler is preparing to explore strategic options for the Dodge Viper business. This strategic review comes as the company focuses on enhancing its core business and leveraging its assets," it said.

The move parallels Detroit rival GM's move to pare off the Hummer brand, which has reportedly attracted recent interest from two separate investors in the Gulf Arab region. "For sure, there has been interest from various parties within the Gulf," General Motors Middle East managing director Terry Johnsson told Reuters yesterday.

Chrysler chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli said today: "We have been approached by third parties who are interested in exploring future possibilities for Viper.

"As the company evaluates strategic options to maximise core operations and leverage its assets, we have agreed to listen to these parties. We will do so keeping in mind the best interests of those who have shown tremendous support for the vehicle - including employees, suppliers, dealers and a worldwide group of loyal Viper owners and enthusiasts.

"Viper is an integral part of this company's heritage. While this is a strategic review, our intent would be to offer strong operational and financial support during any potential transaction, in order to ensure a future for the Viper business and perpetuate the legacy of this great vehicle."

The company stressed the strategic review was unique to the Viper specialty vehicle while it works to strengthen Dodge's core model line with four 2009 models - Journey minivan, Challenger sports coupe, Durango Hybrid SUV and Dodge Ram truck - while promising "more exciting vehicles in the near future".

The Viper is hand-built in a low-volume, modular process at Chrysler's Conner Avenue assembly plant in Detroit, which operates largely independent of other production facilities.

The vehicle was introduced as a concept at the 1989 Detroit show and was first available as a 1992 production model.

"With today's announcement, the company emphasises that it has not set a definitive timetable for completion of the review of its strategic options, no final decision has been made with regard to the Viper business, and there can be no assurance that any transaction will take place as a result of this process," Chrysler added.

It has retained Lazard as financial advisor for the review.