The Dodge Viper – Exotic Performance at Reasonable Pricing
The Dodge Viper has long been considered one of the most impressive vehicles in the Dodge lineup. Most domestic auto manufacturers have their pride-and-joy sports car – Chevrolet has their Corvette, and Ford has their Shelby Mustang GT500. The Viper has done a great job of staying a bit ahead throughout the model years, and has always taken steps to outdo the competition in a couple of key areas – most notably engine displacement.
Starting out with an 8.0 liter V10, they’ve only gone up from there, currently boasting a massive 8.4 liter (512.6 cubic inch) V10 mated to a 6 speed manual transmission. As of 2013, the newest Viper produces 640 horsepower and 600 foot pounds of torque. At only around 3,300 pounds, the power to weight ratio is quite impressive, and the Viper manages to launch from zero to sixty in 3.3 seconds (for the SRT Viper).
To help increase sales among their top competition from Ford and Chevy, as of 2014, Dodge has taken measures to reduce the sale price of the Viper by $15,000 – a substantial cut price cut, no matter what your financial situation may be. The results on sales have had a huge impact as a result of this price cut, leading to a whopping 184 percent increase, meaning a lot more Vipers are roaming the streets than before.
Helping to manage all of the power produced from their V10 engine, the engineering team resorted to massive tires. The true size of this rubber is something you almost have to see in person to believe, but they make a big difference when it comes to taking corners at speed and gaining traction on launch.
For many Americans, a large appeal of the Viper over competing models is Dodge’s approach to keeping this car as American as possible. It’s won multiple awards as one of the most “American” vehicles, with 75% of its production taking place in the US. This is in comparison to most domestic cars, who surprisingly outsource almost all of the production and assembly to Mexico or even overseas plants.
One downside to all of this power and performance is a reputation built by third-party automotive reviewers, who very consistently emphasize how quickly this vehicle can snap out of control. Driving a Viper aggressively requires dedication and attentiveness beyond that of most cars. The sheer amount of low-end power can lead to loss of control of the rear end before you know what happened, leading to dangerous over-steer situations.
This is a sports car for people who value speed and the general “silliness” of the car beyond all else. The interior isn’t famous for being the most comfortable, and owners continuously report an excessive amount of heat pouring into the cabin due to the side-exit exhaust. This might not be the best choice for a daily driver, but that’s not what the Viper is intended to be. It’s a car you can take out on a cruise, turn every head , and all the while sport a massive grin on your face from just how much fun this car is.
The long production cycle of this model means you have multiple buying options across a vast range of prices. A used mid 90’s model is available at a heavily reduced rate over a new car, with admittedly dated styling compared to the new Vipers. If your wallet is a bit heavier, you can opt for a brand new one – or even pay a bit more for the SRT10 model, which has a small but significant power increase. For those really wanting to go all out, the ACR Viper provides a purely track oriented experience like none other.
This certainly isn’t a car for everyone, but if you want a nice weekend cruiser that’s massively fun to drive, it’s hard to beat the Dodge Viper.