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New Car/Review


Dodge Viper GTS Coupe (2001)

SEE ALSO: Dodge Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 69,725
     Price As Tested                                    $ 77,610
     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                                     3622 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  18.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)            P275/35ZR18 front/ P335/30ZR18 rear
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                         Two-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.35


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            11/20/16
     0-60 MPH                                        4.4 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                         12.5 seconds @ 115.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           184 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

It's been nine years since the Dodge Viper hit the streets. About 11,000 have been produced, and they're still guaranteed to turn heads on the road. It comes as a soft top roadster, a race-ready American Club Racer and as our tester for the week, the Viper GTS.

OUTSIDE - When the Viper arrived in 1992, it produced a cultural wake that few cars have ever equaled. The muscular bulges of the hood and front fenders are sleek, low and wide, and a pair of racing stripes sweep from end-to-end. A menacingly wide grille opening is flanked by slit-like headlamps and big driving lights. Its curved haunches sweep upward to a small, integrated rear spoiler, while the bubble-top roof line of the GTS model gives taller owners a few inches of extra headroom and lots more comfort than the open-top Viper. There is a large cutline at the rear edges of the front fenders that act as heat exchangers for the massive powerplant under the hood. The Viper GTS rolls on brightly-polished 18-inch forged aluminum wheels and massive Viper-exclusive Michelin Pilot-brand performance tires.

INSIDE - There is a basic honesty about the interior. It's spartan but comfortable. Climbing in is not easy, though once seated and settled, it fits quite well, especially with its standard adjustable clutch and brake pedals. The white-faced tachometer and speedometer are small but placed correctly for easy viewing. Four smaller gauges are in a row across the upper center of the dash, and the wide center console houses the radio and climate controls just in front of the gear shift. The driver and passenger seats are premium high-backed buckets, with inflatable lumbar supports and leather seating surfaces. A small lockable storage compartment is in the space between the seats, inset into the bulkhead area just below a center-set stereo speaker. The rear glass of the GTS model lifts up to reveal a small amount of cargo area providing room for an overnight bag or two. Other standard GTS features include tilt steering, air conditioning, power windows, rear window defogger, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a 200-watt AM/FM/CD stereo system with six speakers.

ON THE ROAD - Besides looks and reputation, the most awesome Viper feature is its V10 engine. It's an 8.0-liter unit that produces a whopping 450 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque. It's not a sophisticated design compared to other supercars, forgoing turbochargers, superchargers, fancy overhead cams and multiple valves per cylinder, but it needs none of that. Leaping to 60 MPH in just over four seconds is as impressive as any supercar today. The engine is all-aluminum, and is based loosely on the iron-block V10 that powers the Dodge Ram Pickup. Performance hardware such as forged pistons, a special high-revving valve train and high-performance fuel injectors make the Viper equally at home ripping up the race track as cruising the boulevard. A Borg-Warner six-speed manual transmission is the sole gearbox available. An economy feature forces drivers to shift from 1st to 4th gear under normal driving conditions to reduce fuel consumption.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Strip off the Viper's outer body panels and you see a race car chassis. A super-strong tubular steel backbone frame provides the core structure, with two rectangular-tube frame rails that support the engine. The front and rear suspensions are fully independent with unequal-length A-arms, coil-over springs and Koni-brand gas-filled tube shocks. In addition, the rear layout is attached to a box-frame section to further enhance rigidity. All this provides a solid skeleton to control its awesome power, but it produces an understandably stiff ride. Its power rack-and-pinion steering unit is adapted from the system in the Dodge Dakota pickup but it provides lightning-quick response and positive on-center feel. Monstrous 13-inch vented disc brakes front and rear with four-piston front brake calipers provide incredible stopping power, especially so since an anti-lock braking system (ABS) is standard equipment.

SAFETY - Dual airbags and ABS are standard.

OPTIONS - There were no options on our test car.