POSTED: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - 5:48pm
UPDATED: Thursday, April 14, 2011 - 2:14pm
We spent the last week driving the last Dodge Viper for at least 2 years, and I can answer your basic questions fairly quickly. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it fast? Oh, yes. Is it practical? No. Does that matter? Of course not.
This is the swan song for the Dodge Viper, for a couple of years anyway, and they saved the best for last, until the next, Italian-inspired Viper comes out in 2013.
Power has reached completely insane levels. Handling is absolutely perfect, right up to the moment that it isn’t. And the car is an absolute blast to drive all the while being as crude and basic as an MG. Think of it as spending nearly a hundred grand for a brand new ’69 Corvette.
And that’s a good analogy since the ’69 Vette was swoopier than anything else on the road, monstrously powered and the only detectible signs of civilization were electric windows, an air conditioner and a radio.
And that was our Viper in a nutshell. The original Viper went on sale in 1992, and was even more basic, lacking even rollup windows. To me it resembled a late fifties Aston Martin DBR racer, but had a hot-rodded Dodge V-10 truck engine with 400 horsepower.
The latest has upped that by half again with the 8.4-liter now cranking out 600 ponies and producing one of the world’s great automotive sounds.
Mated to a Tremec 6-speed manual, the same gearbox found in the Camaro, Mustang and Corvette, the Viper is frankly tiring to drive on a daily basis, and the most fun you can have with your clothes on at high speeds. And there is so much power on tap, that breaking the rear end loose is just a matter of when, not if.
Inside, the cockpit is all business, and the business is going fast. It isn’t particularly luxurious nor is it easy to get in and out of, but my lord it’s fast. 0-60 takes about 3.5 seconds, and the top speed, which I will never see, is 197 miles per hour.
With forged aluminum wheels and $3400 worth of stripes, yes stripes, our Viper was a bit over $97,000.
It’s a lot of work, but the rewards are mind-blowing.