The Dodge Viper is a high-performance American sports car. It has an old-fashioned design, is ludicrously fast, dangerously unforgiving to drive, houses an 8.4 litre naturally aspirated engine, and a manual gearbox.
During the 1960’s, Carol Shelby, a highly valued racing driver and automotive designer, collaborated with AC cars to create the Cobra; a racing car which became one of the most iconic American sports cars of all time. It was characterised by an exceptionally long bonnet, a cabin set amongst the rear wheels, a very visceral drive, a thunderous soundtrack and high power. Countless replicas and many continuation cars have been constructed in more recent times.
During 1991, the first viper was introduced. This car was in essence a modern incarnation of the Shelby Cobra. It offered similar driving dynamics with improved technical advancement and a larger engine in a V10 layout. The latter configuration was unconventional and one which Lamborghini had experience working with. The Viper’s engine has seen influence from Lamborghini.
Despite the differences between Cobra and Viper, the latter remained visceral and highly pure. The car was completely unassisted, meaning there were no driver aids in the likes of ABS (Anti Lock Breaks) and traction control to assist the driver. The tyre footprint was exceptionally large. The result of this was a pure and thrilling car which could be unforgiving if not driven appropriately. The viper has long developed a thrilling and troublesome reputation within the automotive world to reflect. Many cherish it alone for the fear it evokes.
As decades advanced, four generations followed. By the fifth, the car was overhauled by SRT; Dodge’s performance arm. At this point, its engine had been bored to 8.4 litres, crucial steel chassis componentry had been converted to aluminium and an impressive amount of carbon fibre had been introduced to make the package lighter. The car’s bonnet is entirely carbon fibre. Its expansive surface area renders it the largest single piece of carbon fibre ever used within a production car.
The viper, courtesy of its development, became a very capable high-end performance car. SRT decided to enforce this by creating a track focused variant named the ACR which was reflective of their GT3 race car. The car has completed an astonishing time of just a little over 7.01 minutes at the Nürburgring and beat records at other great racetracks. To Purchase, the car cost in the region of $120,000 in 2016.
Compared to competitors from Lamborghini, Ferrari, Mercedes and Porsche, it was exceptional value considering its more than equal sporting potential if comparisons were made. Given the niche nature of the car, coverage on its capabilities have been minimal compared to other offerings.
Dodge has Discontinued the Viper as of 2017. The decision is understandable. In an age where cars have adopted smaller turbocharged, hybrid and electric power plants, larger displacement engines have little time to remain, let alone the largest displacement engine in the world as is in the Viper. Used prices of Vipers are remaining reasonably strong and the ACR Variants are generally appreciating. There is no surprise here. The car is timeless, collectible, pure to drive and refreshingly old fashioned.
People value technical advancement and are willing to pay premiums to reflect. The viper epitomises purity of design through timeless execution. Purity and timelessness are priceless. An object which embodies such qualities has not a premium to fill and is faced with little room to advance.