SEE ALSO: Dodge Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 86,835 Price As Tested $ 94,335 Engine Type OHV 20-valve 8.0 Liter V10 w/SMFI* Engine Size 488 cid/7990 cc Horsepower 450 @ 5200 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 490 @ 3700 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 96.2"/75.7"/176.7" Transmission Six-speed manual Curb Weight 3492 pounds Fuel Capacity 18.5 gallons Tires (F/R) P275/35ZR18-front P335/30ZR18-rear Brakes (F/R) Disc/disc Drive Train Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Two-passenger/two-door Domestic Content 85 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.35 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 11/20/14 0-60 MPH 4.5 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 13.0 seconds @ 119.0 mph Top speed 185 mph * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
(The Dodge Viper is going on it's eighth year of production and unlike many domestic cars, it still isn't discounted at dealerships, says Bob Hagin. Matt Hagin found one in a local dealer's showroom and even after nearly a decade, it's roped off with DO NOT TOUCH signs.)
BOB - The Dodge Viper was a real coup for Chrysler in '92. The company had lost the performance image that it garnered through its Muscle Cars of the '60s. That type of automotive excess was passe and virtually impossible by the '90s. The only logical recourse was to build a sports car in the classic sense - a low-slung two-seater roadster with an enormous engine and an excess of power.
MATT - Enormous is a good word in this case, Dad. Back then the Viper was powered by a 400-horse, 8.0-liter, all-aluminum V10 engine that had no trouble tearing the tread off of its 17-inch rear tires. But now the ante has been raised. The new Viper GTS coupe we tried at the media track day puts out 450 ponies and its torque rating is nearing the 500 pound/feet mark. The tires have also grown by an inch and the updated RT/10 roadster is now more comfortable. It has roll-up windows and the GTS coupe like the one we tried is now very civilized too. The transmission is still a six-speed manual, so shiftless drivers will have to learn how to use a clutch, or buy something more mundane. The suspension is independent all around and the major pieces are made of aluminum. The Viper we tried is no lightweight at 3500 pounds, but with so much power and torque, nobody is complaining.
BOB - The differential carries a clutch-type limited slip unit and while it doesn't supply the "bite" of a true locker, it's lots more predictable in such a powerful car. Our Viper GTS stops as good as it goes, too. The brakes are 13-inch discs all around, but only the fronts have fixed-calipers and four pistons. The front binders do a majority of the work at speed anyway, but an anti-lock system would be a handy option on the Viper. Unfortunately, it's not offered. The steering is of the rack-and-pinion type, and with a 40-foot turning circle and only 2.5 turns lock-to-lock, power steering is definitely a necessity. But the whole package works really well and only the rare owner will ever have the opportunity or the inclination to drive the new Viper GTS to its full capabilities for extended periods of time. But I'd be willing to bet that very few Viper buyers will be willing to nurse the car along to get its EPA-listed highway fuel mileage of 20 MPG at 65 MPH unless there's a police car in the same vicinity.
MATT - The ride is surprisingly comfortable on the 2000 Viper coupe and it's relatively quiet at highway speeds and above. This is a real improvement over its ancestor of eight years ago. The leather-covered bucket seats hold the driver and passenger firmly in place and it even has enough luggage space behind the seats for a couple of overnight bags. And to further confirm the fact that the Viper is a single-purpose, just-for-fun car, the press kit that came with it notes that its trailer-towing capacity is zero pounds.
BOB - It has all the usual creature comforts found in conventional passenger cars, but it can also be had in off-the-showroom-floor amateur racing trim with the air conditioning and sound systems eliminated and the suspension stiffened a bit with heavier springs and shocks. The "kit" also includes a less-restrictive intake air filtering system that adds another 10 horsepower. The whole package is street-legal, albeit somewhat less comfortable in everyday driving than the fully-equipped version, especially during the summer months. The roof of the GTS coupe has just a hint of a double-bubble over the two seats but the headroom is limited to the use of a soft cap or maybe a helmet.
MATT - Two-seater sports cars lately have enjoyed a resurgence of popularity, Dad. Maybe we should get on the bandwagon and add one to the family fleet.
BOB - I gave up two seaters many years ago when I discovered that it had become much harder for me to climb out of one than it was to climb in. Besides, where would I put my tool box?