It’s been almost a year now since I sold my Gen II Viper (1997 RT/10). I still remember driving 600 miles to pick her up and returning home in the middle of the night to my quiet neighborhood. There is nothing quite like that v10 rumble, especially with the Corsa exhaust that was put on by the previous owner. I really had no idea what I had got myself into, but I did know that I had something special. Really special.
My search for a Viper began a few months before finally picking one up. I would spend countless hours online reading reviews, posting on forums, watching videos – doing everything I could to extract as much information about the car…I was obsessed. I eventually was referred over to a great guy by the name of Todd (A&C Performance). He was well respected in the Viper community and was only 30 minutes from my house. I decided to go pay him a visit to learn more about the Viper and possibly see a few at his shop. Talk about a stand up guy and team. I always read about the viper community and the great people that are part of it, but to experience it first hand before I even had a Viper was really amazing. Part of the experience of owning a Viper is definitely the community that stands behind it.
Now back to the car. I was extremely lucky to get the Viper that I did. I initially wanted a red one, but after seeing this blue and white I was in love. In many peoples eyes, it is THE signature color of the Viper. It was first introduced on the 1996 GTS, but to see it on a RT/10 was like seeing a Unicorn. Only 53 RT/10’s were made in the blue and white, and who knows how many are still alive today. Many hardcore Viper guys look down on the RT/10, but living in Southern California, there really is nothing like hearing the thunderous v10 with the top off on a clear, warm, sunny day.
Every time I took the car out it was an event. The amount of pictures, thumbs up, head turns, and respect this car gets is ridiculous. You feel like you are a rockstar, that is, until you start to push it. I did a lot of research on the Viper, and fully understood that there were no “nannies” to save your ass if you decide to get cocky. No traction control, no stability control, no ABS – Just you and the fresh(hopefully) expensive rubber and the road. What a thrilling and intoxicating experience. Each day you step out of the Viper after a drive, you feel accomplished. The car is extremely rewarding if you respect it. I have ZERO track experience and just an average driver, and the Viper made me a better driver. You are so engaged in the driving experience. Now a days you have all these fancy DCT’s, PDK’s, with your paddle shifters that provide crazy performance and very easy to go fast in – but there is just something missing. I have driven many GTR’s, Porsches, etc that have these systems and it just can’t compare to the feel of a clutch and 6 speed transmission in your hand. Cars like the Viper make you feel alive.
Ok, so I talked about how awesome the Viper is – but make no mistake, this car is not for everyone. There is a reason you don’t see many on the road. The lack of electronic nannies and brute personality really takes a unique individual to even consider daily driving it. Lets start with the simple interior. Now many people talk about how bad it is, but for me, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The seats are comfortable, everything is positioned pretty nicely. Sure, the plastic parts looks cheap and make all these noises when you go over a speed bump or coming up your driveway, but just turn the music up, or better yet, rev up the exhaust. Yes, the cabin gets hot. Even with the top off, after 15-20 minutes of driving, my back gets wet. Ahh, the hard top. Talk about a complete after thought. If your a smaller guy like me, forget about trying to take the top on and off by yourself. Its heavy, big, and an absolute bitch to take on and off (soft top too). It rattles like no other, you get wind noise, and just makes the RT/10 look like crap with it on (think of a bad toupee). The car completely transforms when its off.
The Viper is far from perfect, but that’s what makes it great. As funny as that sounds, it really is unique car for the hardcore purist. There is no doubt in my mind that I will own another Viper again one day (most likely a Gen V). Until then…