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A Bold Look Back
2017 marks the 25th anniversary and final build of the Dodge Viper. It’s been an amazing run of massive horsepower, crazy stopping power, attitude and allure that has captivated performance car enthusiasts the world over.
THROWING IT INTO REVERSE
January 4, 1989 was the day Dodge changed super car history, revealing the Dodge Viper RT/10 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
It was beautiful. Powerful. Enticing. And raw. Really, really raw. No power windows. No ABS. No A/C. No turbochargers. No fancy-pants features. Just a big ol’ V10 engine (originally intended for a truck), and a racecar exhaust that ran along the outside of the vehicle.
It was an old-school hot-rod in a modern day showplace. And the people loved it. They begged for it.
So, in 1991, Dodge produced it.
196 hand-built units hit the dealerships in 1992. Priced at $50,000 (plus a $2,600 gas guzzle tax and a $2,330 luxury tax), customers lined up to place their order for the 400 hp 8.0L V10 that went 0-60 in 4.4 seconds and killed the ¼-mile in 13.1 seconds. Numbers that beat the Corvette ZR1 of the same model year.
In the years to come, demand didn’t dwindle. Neither did the vehicle’s evolution. In 1993, options included A/C, new colors and a radio antenna. It wasn’t until 1996 that the Viper GTS emerged, with its Cobra-inspired roof, roll-up side windows and exterior door handles. The previous exhaust wasrerouted to the back of the car, the V10 engine upped the ante with 50 more horsepower, and weightoffsets included aluminum links in the suspension and a lighter-weight frame.
The next big changes came with the Generation 3 SRT10® Roadster, donning lower hood lines, added creases, a partial underbody tray and a reworked rear fascia. The model reduced coefficient drag by 7 percent over the previous RT/10. A larger grille helped move air more effectively through the engine compartment. Adjusting the A-frame and extending the wheelbase addressed customer concerns for easier exit and entry.
The Generation 4 Viper SRT10 had competitors green with envy, bumping up the horsepower to a breakneck 600 mph and a 0-60 time of less than 4 seconds. The outgoing transmission was replaced with a Tremec TR6060, giving the Viper a rumored 18 percent quicker shift time than the Corvette Z06.
BACK TO THE PRESENT
The 5th Generation Dodge Viper with 645 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. torque will forever be remembered as the pinnacle of power and performance. Not surprisingly, the final builds of every special edition Viper has been sold. Every 1:28 ACR, VooDoo II ACR, Snakeskin GTC, Snakeskin ACR and GTS-R Commemorative Edition has been spoken for.
It’s like a real Viper bite. Many feel bruised, pained and maybe even a bit nauseous. Although Viper may not be seen in showrooms again, it’s left us knowing a unique, mechanically monstrous vehicle — unswayed by the allure of bells and whistles and always true to its primal, beastly roots.
PUTTING ON THE BRAKES
When barely street-legal horsepower meets the over-aggressive tendendcies of a Dodge Viper driver’s heavy foot, braking performance becomes extremely important. From the beginning, Viper has been equipped with brakes and tires suited to tame the savage serpent. The 1992 stock brakes were enormous (13-in. discs in the front and 12-in. rear) and kept the vehicle a racing purist without engaging modern day ABS, which didn’t become standard until 2001.
The evolution of Viper braking has become a performance car benchmark. In its final year, that benchmark isn’t going anywhere . The ACR marks the first-time use of carbon ceramic matrix brake rotors. They work in tandem with six-piston Brembo calipers and deliver unprecedented brake fade resistance, and greater handling capability by providing additional cooling to the brake calipers via detachable front brake ducts.
Viper’s braking is the system love child of stellar stopping performance, short stopping distances, low modulation, outstanding durability and balanced brake performance without fading under extreme conditions.