Dodge Viper

Dodge Viper is the most extraordinary American cars in many years. Although designed and engineered in a completely different philosophy from European sports cars, many European still admire its style and how it runs.  

Watch the picture in the above and you'll know what is a muscle car...really muscular surfaces reminds me the look of Arnold Schwarzenliger. Someone may regard this as ugly. "Too big, too muscular, too strange, and the double bubble roof..." some may have different view, "Wow ! a Viper ! That represents the American culture and life style. Like a Batmobile ! "  

When its truck-sourced, Lamborghini modified V10 pushrod engine starts to burn the gas in the 7990c.c. cylinders, some may say, "Noise pollution...and too this '90s American still use such an old-tech engine ! " while other may say "Wow! Its sounds great ! It's rough and loud, but it thrills me a lot ! "  

Then it accelerates with the tyres spinning and smoking, you hear : "Poor American cars still haven't got traction control....all the weight bias in the front so that rear end has insufficient grip." but you also hear "The rawer it is, the more fun I can have."  

The Viper storms through the corners with great speed. "Handling is not as precise as Ferrari and Porsche. Gearchange is not as slick. Stiff springs and dampers setting lead to the uncomfortable ride." but someone responds, " Great grip generated from big and wide Goodyear Eagles, and the astonishing acceleration press my head towards the headrest. Can F355 and 911 manage 0-60mph in 4.4sec ?" then argument starts. "911 turbo can do it under 4sec !" "in case you can pay the sky-high price".....The argument between European and American will never stop once the Viper still exists. 

The above report was last updated in 1998. All Rights Reserved.

Today's Viper RT/10 and GTS 

Looking back through the history of Viper, you�ll notice that Chrysler really improved the car a lot. The earliest Viper was the RT/10 roadster which was realized from a concept car in Detroit motor show. Chrysler had no experience about making supercar at all, so it asked Lamborghini, its subsidiary then, helped developing the alloy V10 engine. The car became a star in America, mostly because of its power and the muscular shape of the composite body, also owing to its nationality. However, handling was not as good, although huge rubbers generated headline-topping skippad results.  

The GTS, launched 1996, was a big improvement. The hard-top coupe has the tubular space frame chassis greatly reinforced, raising torsional stiffness to 10,300 Nm/degree. (Porsche Boxster is 10,000 Nm/degree) Suspension was also tuned sharper. The V10 was developed to 450hp, much more than the original 400hp, thanks to improved breathing and lighter parts used.  

Today�s Viper, no matter GTS or RT/10, is no longer deemed to be an old-tech muscle car. Although the engine still employs push-rod and 2-valve per cylinder, every other components are made with high-tech in mind. For example, forged aluminium pistons, forged con-rods, forged crankshaft, magnessium rocker cover and aluminium head and block with cast iron liners. The control arms of the double wishbones suspensions are also made of lightweight cast aluminium.  

Some of the suspension improvement probably came from racing experience. With the help from a French racing / engineering company, Chrysler launched a FIA GT2 campaign which resulted in 3 Driver and Manufacturer Championships in a row from 97 to 99, beating even Porsche. The GTS-R also stormed Le Mans in 98 and 99. Viper eventually won the deepest respect from the rest of the world !  

The above report was last updated on 28 Dec 99. All Rights Reserved.

Viper GTS-R

Last season, Dodge Viper GTS-R won the GT2 class Championship in FIA GT Series. As a celebration, Chrysler has introduced a limited run of 100 so-called road version of the GT2 racer.  

In fact, the road-going GTS-R is only lightly modified from the the normal GTS (because it is already awesome ?). Instead of having the race car's 600-plus horsepowers, it has "just" 460hp, up 10 horses from the GTS. This is achieved by the straightening the intake manifold. Torque increases 10 lbft, also appears 100rpm earlier at 3600rpm. Other modifications are as minor - 18in wheels replace 17in, added a rear wing which looks like the race car's but not adjustable.  

R&T's test found a little improvement in acceleration - 0-60 down a tenth to 4.2sec. And yes, all GTS-R are painted with the American racing colour, that is, white background with twin blue ribbons. 

The above report was last updated in 1998. All Rights Reserved.

Viper GTS ACR 

For reasons unknown to me, the fire-breathing GTS-R was not street-legal. It was just allowed to be sold to those have racing driver license. Therefore Chrysler had to make a street-legal version for the public, and that becomes the ACR edition.  

Not only it has the same 460hp and 500 lbft output as the GTS-R, it also ditched equipment for weight reduction, such as air-conditioning, the 200W Alpine stereo and the driving lamps. The result is 1522 kg kerb weight, or 47 kg less than the standard GTS.  

ACR also got the GTS-R-spec racing dampers and springs to ensure sharp handling. 

The above report was last updated on 28 Dec 99. All Rights Reserved.

Viper versus TVR Cerbera

This is a very interesting comparison. One of them is a pure American muscle car, another follows the tradition of British sports car, but the results are so amazing - they seems to have the same philosophy !  

Wild styling, wild power, wild screaming, storming speed, hard ride, poor build....aren't they sound so alike? 0-60mph in less than 4.5sec, top speed higher than 170mph, aren't they the closest rivals?  

In fact, they are not all identical in character. Viper emphasis on cubic inch and torque, while TVR uses its high revving engine and lightweight advantage to implement the same level of performance. The anglo car feels nimble in corner, but the American car make good use of its grippy tyres to enable same level of handling ability. Only a side-by-side comparison will tell which one is better. 

The above report was last updated in 1998. All Rights Reserved.


Viper GTS
Front-engined, Rwd
L / W / H / WB : 4488 / 1923 / 1194 / 2443 mm
V10, ohv, 2v/cyl.
7990 c.c.
450 hp
490 lbft
All wheels Double wishbones
F: 275 / 35 ZR18; R: 335 / 30 ZR18
1569 kg
Top speed
180 mph (estimated)
0-60 mph
4.3 sec*
0-100 mph
9.5 sec*
* Tested by Road & Track

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