The future for Dodge Viper is still uncertain, so as final epitaphs are prepared and kept at the ready for this street machine, we take one last, lovingly look at a car that still turns heads faster than a miniskirt on a windy day, a car that, for a little while, reminded us of the glory days of Detroit’s prowess on the street, a car that took no prisoners and made no excuses.
True, supercharging of engines may be the wave of the performance future, but old-schoolers like me believe that when it comes to raw power, there is no substitute for cubic inches. And while some manufacturers fool around with supercharging “doo-hickeys” on their performance models, the “bring more motor” philosophy rings true when it comes to all-out brute force and Dodge’s meanest and nastiest Viper SRT10 yet.
Engine builders bored out the block of the big V-10 another 100cc putting Viper right at 600 horsepower and 560 lb. ft. of torque to power the latest embodiment of Dodge’s “ultimate American sports car.”
Besides the engine upgrade, the latest model gets a more dramatic hood complete with a larger, more efficient scoop and functional louvers, allowing residual heat to dissipate rather quickly following “invigorated” driving moments. Viper is still offered in both coupe and roadster form and sports some new body colors.
The Dodge Viper SRT10 is a driver’s car, one that 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 electronic stability control government bailout plan – Viper is all-out “go fast or go home” driving so deal with it.
What does the Viper have? Check this: 8.4-liter Viper SRT10 V-10 engine with variable valve timing featuring new CamInCam technology and electronic throttle control; Larger oil pump and new swinging oil pickup; Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission; GKN ViscoLok speed-sensing limited-slip differential; Choice of three different 18×10-inch front/19×13-inch rear polished, forged aluminum wheels including new Razor wheel with five U-shaped spokes, and; Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires.
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 sport bucket seats hold occupants (max of two) firmly in place in a cockpit that, for some, might seem a bit claustrophobic. 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 40 mph in first gear and, if you don’t pay attention, you will exceed highway speed limits shortly after shifting into second.
Even though the Viper has a really decent Alpine 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 skirting 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.
Pricing for the 2009 Viper SRT10 roadster starts at $88,590. Our tester came in at $97,310 thanks to options including dual silver painted stripes, Razor wheels, navigation system and premium paint. Fuel economy is rated at 13 mpg city and 22 mpg highway from premium-grade fuel.
For Viper’s sake, we hope there’s life after Dodge.