A wise old local hotrodder once told me, “You can fool around with those fancy supercharging doo-hickeys all you want, but when it comes to raw power there is no substitute for cubic inches.” And while Dodge’s SRT folks may be fooling around with supercharging “doo-hickeys” on their entry SRT4 model, they still heed these words when it comes to all-out brute force for their meanest and nastiest Viper SRT10 yet.
Boring out the block of the big V-10 another 100cc puts them right at 600 horsepower and 560 lb. ft. of torque to power this latest embodiment of their “ultimate American sports car.”
“A legendary big-game hunter once said, ‘Bring enough gun!’ – and with the new 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10, we’ve created some very powerful artillery for sports-car enthusiasts,” said Kipp Owen, director of Street and Racing Technology (SRT) Engineering, Chrysler LCC. “With 600 horsepower – 90 more than before – and 0-to-60 performance in less than four seconds, the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 sets a new benchmark for the ultimate American sports car.”
Besides the engine upgrade the new 2008 model gets a more dramatic hood complete with a larger, more efficient hood scoop and functional hood louvers, allowing all the residual heat to dissipate rather quickly following “inspirational” driving moments. Viper is still offered in both coupe and roadster form with five new colors available including our testers glow-in-the-dark snakeskin green.
Granted, Viper is not the only performance game in town. Chevy has a killer app with the Z06 and the Europeans offer quite a number of very pricey road warriors but none match Dodge’s raw mentality. For a daily driver I might choose the hotrod Corvette over Viper but to punish ALL the senses I would require the Dodge. (Think Bart Simpson as the Z06 and Nelson Muntz playing the role of the Viper.)
The Dodge Viper SRT10 is a driver’s car and requires the driver’s full attention at all times. One little slip and this baby can get away from you. No fancy-schmancy traction control and no wussy electronic stability program – Viper is all-out “go fast or go home” driving so deal with it.
What does the Viper have? Check this out: New 8.4-liter Viper SRT10 V-10 engine, delivering 600 hp and 560 lb. ft. of torque; Compliant with federal Tier 2, Bin 5 and California’s Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) 2 mandates; Improved Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission; Variable Valve Timing featuring new CamInCam technology; Electronic throttle control; Larger oil pump and new swinging oil pickup; GKN ViscoLok speed-sensing limited-slip differential; Choice of three different 18 x 10-inch front/19 x 13-inch rear polished, forged aluminum wheels: standard five-spoke wheel; optional H-spoke wheel; and all-new optional Razor wheel with five U-shaped spokes, and; Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 non-run-flat tires.
That last item is in reference to replacing the run-flat tires they had on previous models. For 2008 they can get away with a better tire for street and track and they tuck an air compressor/fix-a-flat unit into a corner of the rear cargo compartment for roadside emergencies. Hey, if you can afford a Viper you can afford AAA.
Launching this thing I feel I should have a safety crew shouting “fire in the hole” right before I stab the accelerator pedal. The sport bucket seats hold occupants (max of two) firmly in place and for some might even seem a bit claustrophobic. If you don’t like walking into closets then spring for the convertible roadster version.
A bright red ignition start button still adorns the center dash, just below the waterfall of instrument gauges necessary in performance vehicles of this stature. Fire it up and you scare every living creature in a one-block radius. Small children begin to cry and grown men get goosebumps. Despite what those junk e-mails might say, Viper SRT10 is the legal substitute for Viagra.
The main thing to remember when behind the wheel is to breathe, slow and deep, to keep the blood flowing to the vital organs. There should even be a warning sticker somewhere on the dash stating such.
The Viper has long gear runout, meaning one can reach beyond 40mph in first gear and, if you don’t pay attention, you will exceed highway speed limits shortly after shifting into second. I notice that Viper has some of that same screwy shift technology that we all complain about in the Corvette – a first-to-fourth path at lower rpm designed to aid fuel economy but little else. Come on folks, the only thing “green” about this car is the paint scheme.
OK, we’ve fired her up and as we back out of the parking space we hope that anything within earshot gets out of the way as the blind spots are pretty bad in this car. Even though the Viper has a really decent stereo system, I found myself instead choosing to listen to those side exhaust pipes singing the praises of the engine. Thank goodness they have added a bit of side skin around the outside of the pipes these days – no more scalding calf muscle skin as in the first series Vipers.
On the road the Viper feels every little bump thanks to the race-bred high-performance four-wheel independent suspension. At least the softer sidewall of the new tires absorbs a little bit now. Find a smooth stretch of roadway if you want to see what the Viper is capable of. Better yet, buy a membership at a track like Motorsports Ranch in Cresson and drive her like she was stolen.
Shifts were surprisingly accurate and clutch operation was milder than anticipated. Braking is as powerful as launches are thanks to a collection of Brembo performance components front and rear. All of the Viper’s power spins through a Dana rear axle with speed-sensing limited-slip differential optimized for higher torque capacity and improved traction. Be cautious with the steering though – every slight input adjustment causes immediate and precise reaction.Viper does offer amenities such as power adjustable pedals, ABS braking, knee bolsters and tire pressure monitoring system.
Pricing for the 2008 Viper SRT10 coupe starts at $83,895 with our tester coming in at $89,045. Options listed include dual black painted stripes, “H” spoke forged aluminum wheels and premium paint. Fuel economy is rated at 12mpg city and 21mpg highway from premium-grade fuel.
Viper – mean and nasty, plain and simple. Now exhale.
Product chronology highlights
2006 Model Year
SRT10 Coupe introduced. Like the Roadster, the Coupe has:
• 8.3-liter 500-horsepower V-10 engine
• Signature crosshair grille design
• Deep-cut side scallops
• Swept-back fenders and lowered hood
Coupe distinguished by:
• “Double-Bubble” roof
• Unique rear styling with wraparound taillamps
• New canopy and deck lid
• Deck-lid spoiler
• New windshield surround, door side glass, rear fascia and quarter panels
• Unique weatherstrip pieces, headliner, carpet and trim panels
Other new features:
• Two wheel options
• Polished forged aluminum five-spoke wheel
• H-spoke polished forged aluminum wheels
• Available SIRIUS Satellite Radio
2005 Model Year
• New Viper Race Yellow body color
• New Copperhead Orange body color
• New Copperhead Orange interior package featuring black leather interior with contrasting stitching on seats and shift knob accents
2004 Model Year
• New Viper White body color
• Standard red brake calipers
• Standard folding tonneau cover
• New trunk carpet
2003 Model Year
• Introduction of the all-new SRT10 two-seat convertible with all-new 8.3-liter V-10 — 500-hp (372 kW) engine
• Lower hood with larger grille opening and integrated louvers
• 2.6-inch longer wheelbase (than 2002 RT/10)
• High-intensity discharge headlamps
• New HVAC system for improved performance and air flow
• New windshield wiper blade design with low-profile flat (beam-style) blades
• 1.1-inch shorter overall length than 2002 RT/10
• Power adjustable clutch, throttle and brake pedals (4-inch total pedal travel)
• New driver foot rest (adjustable)
• Next-generation, multistage driver and front passenger air bags(a)
• New four-wheel disc Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
• Exterior colors: Viper Red, Viper Black, Viper Bright Silver Metallic
2002 Model Year
• GTS Final Edition — Last 360 Viper Coupes red with white stripes, special badging
• Graphite Metallic (RT/10 and GTS) and Graphite Metallic with silver stripe (GTS only) color schemes
2001 Model Year
• Viper Race Yellow and Deep Sapphire Blue Pearl Coat exterior colors
• Optional Black center stripes with Viper Race
• Yellow on GTS
• Standard four-wheel disc Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
2000 Model Year
• Viper Steel Gray exterior color
• Child seat tether anchorage
• Revised ACR (American Club Racer) Group — Performance oil pan, Dynamic Suspensions adjustable monotube shock absorbers and new nameplate
1999 Model Year
• 18-inch aluminum wheels with Viper logo center caps and Michelin Pilot Sport™ tires
• Cognac Connolly® leather interior group
• Black exterior color with or without silver stripe
• GTS ACR Group homologated for club racing (spring 1999 introduction)
• Gender: 96 percent male / 4 percent female
• Age: 45 median
• Household income: $173,000 median
• Education: 44 percent college degree
• Household: 62 percent married
• Occupation: Primarily executive/entrepreneurial