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Dodge Viper

Snake Bite Published: 19th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Dodge ViperThe Viper GTS coupe is defi nitely in the ‘supercar’ league but without the astronomic purchase price

Fast Facts

  • Best model: GTS Coupe
  • Worst model: None
  • Budget buy: Early RT/10 Roadster
  • OK for unleaded?: Yes
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L 176.7” x W 75.7”
  • Spares situation: Most spares are available
  • DIY ease?: Very good for routine maintenance
  • Club support: Excellent
  • Appreciating asset?: A future blue chip classic
  • Good buy or good-bye?: One of the best moderns
The GTS coupe adopted the more conventional rear exiting exhaust system over the RT/10s sidepipe set-up The GTS coupe adopted the more conventional rear exiting exhaust system over the RT/10s sidepipe set-up
8.0 litre V10 engine developed by Lamborghini is endowed with massive power and torque and not for the faint hearted! 8.0 litre V10 engine developed by Lamborghini is endowed with massive power and torque and not for the faint hearted!

Model In Depth...

Cabin is rather cosy, leather trimmed and very comfortable Cabin is rather cosy, leather trimmed and very comfortable
Mean and purposeful, the GTS coupe looks fabulous from any angle Mean and purposeful, the GTS coupe looks fabulous from any angle

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Why the Dodge Viper is the modern American classic with real venom

Pros & Cons

Mind blowing performance, very low depreciation, ‘supercar’ status, huge charisma
Not suitable as a daily driver, a tad unpractical, only available in LHD
£23,000 - £34,000

The Chevrolet Corvette has always been deemed to be America’s premier sports car for a good many years. However, the Dodge Viper has now moved into the number one slot with the added kudos of also entering into ‘supercar’ status. Its purchase price is way below any competition from manufacturers such as Porsche and Ferrari, yet the Vipers performance is truly astounding. Produced in relatively small numbers, depreciation is very slow, and the Dodge Viper is reckoned to be a surefi re future investment right now.


The Viper was launched to the public in January 1989 at the North American Auto Show in Detroit as a two-seater Roadster concept car, with styling by Tom Gale of Chrysler Design. However, such was the huge interest in the model, that Bob Lutz President of Chrysler sanctioned a ‘Viper Team’ of 85 engineers lead by Chief Engineer Roy Sjoberg, to develop a fi nished production car. Using a tubular chassis with a mixture of steel and GRPpanels for the front and rear ends, independent wishbone suspension and coil springs, the Viper RT/10 went from concept to production car in a very short time of only 30 months. The engine was an 8-litre V10 derived from one used in pick-up trucks and SUVs, and developed by Lamborghini no less using an aluminium block. This engine was rated at 400bhp with a mighty 490lbft torque and was coupled to a six-speed manual transmission. The performance was lightening, with a 0-60mph time of 4.5 seconds, 0-100mph in 9.2 seconds and the quarter mile in 13.2 seconds at 112mph. Getting all that traction down on the tarmac was courtesy of massive 13x17-inch three spoke wheels. Many folk saw the Viper as an AC Cobra for the 1990’s and indeed the great Carroll Shelby was a consultant on the project. Available as a two-seater Roadster, the Viper didn’t have any form of weather equipment, norside windows, though this was later catered for with a rudimentary vinyl top and sidescreensshould any owners decide to drive their cars in the wet! The Viper offered ‘neck sapping’ acceleration, and was pretty much a no frills sports car, it didn’t even have ABS braking in its fi rst generation. It was a raucous brute of a car with side exiting exhausts, huge presence and was relatively exclusive too, with only 200 produced in the launch year of 1992. The second generation Viper designated the GTS was available as a coupe with many refi nements over the RT/10. Chief engineer Roy Sjoberg claimed that the Viper had seen over 1100 engineering changes since the inception of the RT/10. The coupe had an improved chassis for better handling and to cope with an increased power from the 8-litre V10 engine that soared to 450bhp. Other refi nements included ABS brakes, dual front air bags, better interior trim, and larger 18-inch diameter wheels were to follow in 1999. During the fi rst six years of Viper production, almost 10,000 had been sold and the second generation finished in 2002 with the release of 360 commemorative “Final Edition” models painted red with white stripes paying tribute to the race winning Oreca cars. The third generation cars were built from 2003 -2006 and the fourth from 2008 to the present day as the GTS SRT/10 model.


Driving the Dodge Viper could be deemed similar to getting behind the wheel of a road registered race car! Indeed, the Viper has enjoyed numerous success on the track, winning the 2007 and 2008 British GT Championships, as well as acquitting itself very well in endurance racing at Le Mans, Spa, Nurburgring and of course Daytona in its homeland to name but a few. Power delivery from the GTS coupe engine is much smoother than that of the RT/10 Roadster, and it’s not as noisy as the latter either. Indeed, the RT/10 can be much more of a handful to drive than the GTS coupe. An adjustable pedal box ensures an optimum driving position. With disc brakes all round, retardation is excellent, though it’s the front brakes that do most of the work. With 415bhp on tap (1996) or 450bhp (1997-2000) there’s more than enough power available and with fully adjustable suspension, just like a race car, the set-up can be tuned to your particular liking. With the massive wheels and tyres fi tted, the nearside lane of a motorway should be avoided due to the furrows caused by lorries. Clearly over exuberant driving in the wet could get you into a lot of trouble! It’s pure old school supercar that is brawn over brains and yet interestingly fuel consumption can range from around 3mpg on track days to up to 30mpg on a run! Owners report that 22mpg is fairly easily obtainable.


For the average enthusiast there’s more than enough power and performance from a standard Viper. However, if you intend to use your car for track days then upgrading the brakes is defi nitely an advantage, and almost a necessity for some along with some chassis tweaks. Pirelli PS2 tyres offer optimum performance for both wet and dry conditions, but budget for around £1200 for a set. Fitting a Corsa Cat-back exhaust system will also allow the engine to breath much easily, though this will cost you at least in the region of £1500.


The Viper represents probably the best value for money ‘supercar’ that you can buy. First generation cars cost around £30,000 when they were new. Nowadays you’d need to spend £20,000 - £23,000 for an RT/10 Roadster. Second generation GTS coupes will be £28,000-£34,000 for cars 1996 – 1999 dependent on condition. Later SRT/10s tend not to hold their value so well and don’t have the charisma of a GTS coupe.

What To Look For

  • The Viper is pretty bullet-proof and suffers from relatively few maladies. It’s always reassuring to purchase a car with a full service history. Many Vipers will be have been used purely for high days and holidays, and therefore won’t have clocked up inter-galactic mileage. However, cars used for Track Days without a brake upgrade can show signs of rapid wear at the front and general ‘track rash’ around the sills in particular.
  • Always check for previous accident damage by looking at the panel fi tment, especially the bonnet. Used cars that have come in from the USA can be checked for accident history via the UK Viper Club who have good links with the States.
  • There was a recall for cars to be fi tted with a strengthened steering bracket. Ensure that this has been fi tted – and correctly too. If it’s impossible to easily remove the oil fi lter, then the bracket has simply been fi tted the wrong way round!
  • Be aware that early fi rst generation RT/10s will eventually need head gasket replacement and these can be strangely hard to source!
  • One weak link is the plastic power steering pulley that can fail. These are easily replaced with a steel pulley. Sixth gear has also been known to cause problems on high motorway mileage cars.
  • The good news is that the Viper is reasonablyDIY user-friendly and routine home servicing is not a big problem. Indeed UK Viper Club members have carried out engine rebuilds with the engine still in situ in the bay, and removal of the gearbox is straightforward and only takes about an hour to remove. Bear in mind an oil change will cost around £100 for top grade Mobil 1, plus fi lters, plugs and so on.
  • Early Viper wheels were of a welded construction which can be prone to cracking. Later cars were fi tted with cast alloy wheels.
  • Changing the battery isn’t the easiest job, as it’s located in a compartment above the rear N/S wheel arch for better weight distribution at the rear, but there’s a hook-up point in the engine bay for jump starting.
  • The Viper Guide by Maurice Q. Liang is a book well worth purchasing for an in depth guide to the model and it’s derivatives.

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