There are few modern cars that evoke the image of a true American exotic sports car like the Dodge Viper.
The original Viper was developed with the help of the legendary sports car builder Carroll Shelby in the late 1980's and went on sale in January 1992. The latest Viper again builds on its true performance characteristics. The front-mounted engine sits slightly behind the front wheels for better weight distribution. The rear diffuser works with the rear deck lid spoiler to keep the rear end planted in tight turns. Even the plastic hood, which was new for 2008, improves airflow to the engine with its added gills and front hood scoop. Nearly every detail of this car has been meticulously developed with optimal performance in mind.
An '08 increase in engine displacement means the new 8.4-liter push-rod V-10, now with variable valve timing on the exhaust side, will produce an immense 600 horsepower and 560 pound feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a new twin-disc clutch and a beefed-up Tremec 6-speed manual transmission, operated via a classic 8-ball style shifter and power adjustable stainless steel pedals.
This powertrain drives all three versions of the Viper; the SRT-10 Coupe, the track-oriented ACR, and the SRT-10 convertible, like the one we drove. The manual convertible top on our test car lets you know that this vehicle was built for speed with a minimum of creature comforts.
That doesn't mean that this car is devoid of modern amenities. Standard features such as air conditioning and a 7-speaker sound system were optional equipment on older Vipers.
The cockpit is driver-centric, with the center stack tilted toward the driver and dominated by a row of engine readout instruments on the left and the red start button at the bottom.
The Viper is all about raw performance. While it doesn't offer driver aids like traction control, the '08 Viper does give a nod to safety with advanced multi-stage airbags and stopping via 14-inch brake rotors with Brembo calipers with ABS.
Base MSRP for the 2009 Dodge Viper is $85,710. Selecting full options will put you into the $100,000 range. The Viper is backed by a 5-year, 100,000-mile power train warranty.
In performance and in appearance, the Dodge Viper delivers pure, primitive speed and power to the driving experience...wherever its rubber meets the road.