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Dodge Viper SRT-10 2006 Coupe
    

    
SRT-10 Convertible

The Dodge Viper underwent a major redesign in 2003, courtesy of DaimlerChrysler's Street and Racing Technology group. The new Viper SRT-10 was heavily restyled with sharp, angled bodywork. The engine was enlarged to 8.3 L (505 cid/8,285 cc) which, with other upgrades, combined to increased output to 500 hp (370 kW) (373 kW) and 525 ft·lbf (712 N·m) of torque. The chassis was also improved. It became more rigid and weighed approximately 80 pounds less than the previous model. The initial model was a convertible. In 2004, Dodge introduced a limited edition Mamba package. Mamba edition cars featured black interiors, with red stitching and trim and saw their MSRP price rise by roughly $3000. 200 Mambas were produced.

The new Viper SRT-10 Coupe was introduced in 2005, at the Detroit Auto Show, as a 2006 model. It shares many of its body panels with the convertible but takes its side and rear styling cues from the Competition Coupe. The new coupe looks much like the previous Viper GTS and retains the "double-bubble" roof shape of the original, along with the original GTS's taillights as well offering the original Viper Blue paint scheme with white stripes (referred to as GTS Blue) for an added homage to the original Viper coupe. The engine was also certified by the SAE to produce 510 hp (380 kW) and 535 ft·lbf (725 N·m) of torque. It is important to note that the engine makes the same power as before, only the numerical value of the power was changed. Unlike the original coupe, the chassis was not modified. This made the new coupe heavier than the convertible, and thus slightly slower in low speed acceleration. Handling and high speed performance were improved by the coupe's stiffer frame, reduced drag, and increased down-force.

No 2007 model Vipers were produced. Instead, Chrysler chose to give the 2006 model an extended run while preparing the updated 2008 model.

 

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2003
The 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10 brought about a change in the already legendary muscle car, a change that seems almost universally to be for the better.  First thing's first.  The 2003 Dodge Viper has an 8.3-liter engine, .3 liters bigger than previous years, which has a maximum horsepower output of 500.
Another major, and much appreciated, change in the 2003
Dodge Viper SRT-10 is the convertible roof.  This one is actually easy to operate!

All in all, over 100 changes were made by Dodge engineers in the redesigned 2003 Dodge Viper.  Inside, the Viper is much more comfortable.  The seats were redesigned, a dead pedal was brought in as a place to rest your left foot, and a 6-CD changer was included so you don't have to waste valuable time looking through your case mid-journey.  The gas mileage is still around 12/24 mpg city/highway, but that's become fairly standard for the Viper family.

Owners of the 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10 seem to think that it is the best Viper made up to that year.  For the most part, owners are happy with all of the changes, especially the 50 extra horsepower and the convenient convertible roof.  Despite being redesigned, the 2003 Dodge Viper still keeps its position as one of the best muscle cars on the market.


Our favorite Viper ad by Dodge circa 2003

2004
The year after the redesign, the 2004 Dodge Viper SRT-10 Roadster didn't make any significant changes on its predecessor, not because of laziness on Dodge's part, but because the 2003 was so superb.  The 8.3-liter V10 in the 2004 Dodge Viper puts 500 horsepower under the control of the driver.  A 6 speed
manual transmission, anti-lock brakes, and a limited-slip differential all help the driver keep that power under control.

The convertible top of the 2004 Dodge Viper SRT-10 Roadster is far easier to use than previous tops have been, making the experience of owning a convertible a lot more fun.  A dead pedal gives the driver's left foot something to do when not shifting, and the 6-CD changer keeps passenger and driver entertained for 6 times as long.  Overall, the total interior comfort of the 2004 Dodge Viper SRT-10 is not bad at all, and stops short of being frivolous or pampering.


Owners of the 2004 Dodge Viper don't focus on much beyond the raw power and acceleration of the muscle car.  And with a 0-60 mph of under 4 seconds and a top speed of over 190 mph, it's no wonder.  The only consistent complaint made by owners is that the heat from the engine gets brought into the passenger compartment, making everyone uncomfortable.  But 500 horses give off a lot of heat, so that's only to be expected.  All in all, owners are crazy about this car: the way it drives, the way it sounds, and the way it turns heads everywhere it goes.

2005
The 2005 Dodge Viper SRT Roadster is a monster on the road, and completely worthy of its namesake.  Speed, power, and aggressive beauty come together primally in the 2005 Dodge Viper for the ultimate driving experience.  The 8.3-liter V10 harnesses the power of 500 horses, allowing for a 0-60 mph of
under 4 seconds, and a top speed above 190 mph.  The 2005 Dodge Viper SRT-10 was built for nothing but fun.

With all that power, the 2005 Dodge Viper SRT-10 isn't completely bare in the comfort department.  Air conditioning, power windows, power seats, adjustable pedals, and a 6-CD changer keep passenger and driver (only one of each allowed) happy.  Not that they wouldn't be, going any speed they want in a convertible with a top that is easy to operate.  But Dodge also didn't go overboard with the 2005 Dodge Viper.  Nothing frivolous like cup-holders or cruise control clutter up the interior of the 2005 SRT-10.

Owners of the 2005 Dodge Viper SRT-10 Roadster have one major request for Dodge: more power.  As if 500 hp wasn't enough.  There is also a slight problem of the engine causing the passenger compartment to heat up a bit, but owners seem to overlook that single flaw in the grand scheme of going faster and looking better than they can in just about any other production car on the market

2006
2006 gave the Dodge Viper SRT-10 Roadster Convertible a brother: the 2006 Dodge Viper SRT-10 Coupe.  This new hardtop model rounded out the new generation of Vipers nicely.  Other than the top, very little is different between the 2006 Dodge Viper Roadster and the Coupe.  Both have answered the continual
call from Viper owners for more power from the V10.  The 8.3-liter engine now churns out 510 hp.  Is there no limit to the amount of horsepower Dodge can cram into the Viper?

The 2006 Dodge Viper SRT-10s were not built for comfort, but engineers kept it in mind and did think to include air conditioning, power windows and locks, and a 6-CD changer, all of which were missing in some early models of the Viper.  The bucket seats in the 2006 Dodge Viper seem to be more comfortable than the first generation seats, meaning you can comfortably drive farther, if you can afford the 12/20 mpg that the 2006 Dodge Viper gets.  But no matter where you go, whether in the SRT-10 convertible or the coupe, you're bound to catch a lot of stares.

Or so say the owners of the 2006 Dodge Viper SRT-10s.  Not that its any surprise, not with the reputation the Viper has gained, or its unique shape and sound.  The 2006 Dodge Viper SRT-10 is not a car for a timid or mediocre driver, but if you can handle the power, few cars can match the fun of the Viper.

2007

Dodge skips this year with the Viper to focus on the 2008 redesign.

ENGINE: 8.3-LITER, OHV, 20-VALVE SMPI V-10

  • 10-cylinder 90-degree V-type, liquid-cooled
  • 505 cubic inches (8277 cc)
  • 356-T6 aluminum alloy block with cast-iron liners, aluminum alloy cylinder heads
  • Bore x Stroke 4.03 inches x 3.96 inches (102.4 x 100.6)
  • 20 pushrod-actuated overhead valves
  • Roller-type hydraulic lifters
  • Sequential, multi-port electronic fuel injection with individual runners
  • Compression Ratio 9.6:1
  • 500 bhp (372 kW) @ 5600 rpm (60.4 bhp/liter)
  • Torque (SAE net) 525 lb.-ft. (712 Nm) @ 4200 rpm
  • Max Engine Speed 6000 rpm
  • Fuel: Unleaded premium, 93 octane (R+M/2)
  • Oil Capacity (with filter) 10.5 qt. (9.9 L), Mobil 1 10W30 Synthetic
  • Coolant Capacity 16 qt. (15.9 L)
  • Emission Controls Four three-way catalytic converters, heated oxygen sensors, engine internal features
  • Exhaust System Stainless steel tubular headers, side exit exhaust
  • 136-amp high-speed alternator with 600 CCA battery
  • In dash AM/FM/CD Radio with internal six-disc changer with 310-watt RMS audio amplifier and seven speakers

TRANSMISSION: MANUAL, SIX-SPEED OVERDRIVE

Synchronized in all gears, electronic 1-4 skip-shift and reverse lockout mechanisms
Gear Ratios
1st 2.66
2nd 1.78
3rd 1.30
4th 1.00
5th 0.74
6th 0.50
Effective Final Drive 3.07
Overall Top Gear 1.54

FINAL DRIVE: Frame-mounted hypoid bevel gear with clutch-type limited-slip differential

DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES (with two passengers)

Overall Length 175.6 (4459)
Overall Width at Sills 75.2 (1911)
Overall Width at Mirrors 78.5 (1944)
Overall Height 47.6 (1210)
Wheelbase 98.8 (2510)
Curb Weight (est.) 3380 (1536)
Track
Front 57.8 (1469)
Rear 60.9 (1547)
Weight Distribution, % F/R 48/52
Ground Clearance 5.125 (130)
Frontal Area 19.3 sq. ft. (1.79 sq. m)
Drag Coefficient 0.43 (top down), 0.40 (top up)
Fuel Tank Capacity 18.5 gal. (70 L)
Trunk Capacity 8.4 cu. ft. (239.7L)

ACCOMMODATIONS

Seating Capacity 2
Head Room 36.5 (926)
Leg Room 42.4 (1077)
Shoulder Room 54.1 (1375)
Seat Travel 7.6 (192)
Recliner Range 45°
SAE Interior Volume N/A

BODY/CHASSIS

Layout Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
Chassis Construction Backbone tubular steel space frame with separate cowl structure
Body Construction Sheet-molded composite (SMC) and resin injection molded (RIM) body panels, aluminum sills, RIM front and rear fascias with injection-molded impact beams
Aerodynamics Wind-tunnel tuned body and top, partial belly pan

SUSPENSION

Front Cast-aluminum unequal-length upper and lower"A" arms, coil springs, high-pressure gas-charged rebound-adjustable shock absorbers, stabilizer bar, six-lug hubs
Rear Cast-aluminum unequal-length upper and lower "A" arms toe-control links, coil springs, high-pressure gas-charged rebound adjustable shock absorbers, stabilizer bar, six-lug hubs

STEERING

Type Power-assisted rack and pinion
Overall Ratio 16.7:1
Turning Diameter 40.5 ft. (12.34 m) (curb-to-curb)
Steering Turns 2.4 (lock-to-lock)

TIRES

Michelin Pilot Sport ZP with low-pressure sensors in valve stems
Front P275/35ZR18
Rear P345/30ZR19

WHEELS

Type and Material Polished forged aluminum
Front 18x10
Rear 19x13

BRAKES

Front 14.0x1.26 (355x32) vented cast-iron disc, four-piston/two-pad fixed caliper with advanced ABS. Black anodized caliper finish with Viper logo
Rear 14.0x1.26 (355x32) vented cast-iron disc, four-piston/two-pad fixed caliper with advanced ABS. Black anodized caliper finish with Viper logo. Single-piston sliding-caliper parking brake
Power-Assist Type Tandem diaphragm vacuum

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2006 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Quick Full-Throttle Test Drive

Around the country, November 18 and 19, DCX hosted a Ride, Drive and Win event entitled "Full Throttle" in Orlando, complete with a Crossfire SRT-6 giveaway. The underwhelming response was a surprise and a revelation; for ten days prior to the weekend, full page ads were run in the Orlando Sentinel, which reaches over a million people. The weather was stunningly perfect. A cool snap had come in the day before which lead to low humidity, crisp, clear air, and delightful bright blue sky, the sort of weather that makes you glad to be in Florida. By 9 am, the temperature was already up to 67°. There was a breeze blowing, Nature's air conditioning system working well.

The Orange County Convention Center parking area, where the driving road courses were set up, is a huge facility. The paved parking area is immense, but I was absolutely alone. There was no traffic whatsoever. As I followed the signs to the parking area, I was stunned by the lack of other vehicles there. There were maybe  about 75 cars in this huge parking lot set aside for the Full Throttle event. At the registration area, I was the only person in line.

The main component of the registration is to allow the local authorities and DCX security to check your license, to make sure that your driving record doesn't scare the DCX folks. You also get a couple chances to win the Crossfire, and you are given cards with SRT on them so you can get a shot at driving one of the hot SRT models on the road courses.     

Turning around, I was faced with the most beautiful blue Dodge Viper Convertible that you can imagine. It was gorgeous. I wanted a shot of getting to  drive one of those! I was still marveling at the total lack of participation by the general public. It was all totally free, with plenty of food, coffee, soft drinks, bagels, doughnuts, pastries, and more, all spread out for anyone to help themselves, prepared by Panera Bread, and fully paid for by DCX.

I made a quick tour of the layout. Three different driving courses that had about the same distances, curves, cutbacks, and acceleration lanes. There was a hard braking area as well, if you chose to get full throttle. A course was set out by itself for the SRT-10 Dodge pickup and the Viper.

Duly noted were models that were NOT there. Missing in action completely were the PT Cruiser, Dodge Dakota, and Dodge Caliber. Not a single one on site, not even in the customer parking area! Off the duty roster included the Dodge Caravan, though several were used by the staff; and the Chrysler Town and Country. One model on display which was a 2006 from a local dealer, and it was the LX model which had a few options, but not impressive, and not available for testing.

I also want to make a note to Dodge. I expected to see a couple of police packages there. Maybe not for testing by the general public, but hey, what more attention getting devices could you have than a full blown police pack with lights flashing, siren screaming and that Hemi V-8 roaring around the test driving courses? Nowhere. Not even mentioned. But take a look at what was there:

As can be expected, the security was provided by the Orange County Sheriff, which has about 1,100 patrol units. They were all over the place. They frequently watched the proceedings going on at the test tracks. As an aside, as Orange County goes, so does the rest of Central Florida. The Impala is going in on all the surrounding Sheriff departments and local police departments at a good price — $20,000 or so including setup, decal installation, radio, and lights. Drive them away. Hard to beat that, so there are no Dodge pursuits around here.

Now on to getting to drive the Viper! It wasn't easy. Apparently, at an earlier event, someone got in a Viper and drove it away! Yes, the person was caught a few blocks away. However, you can imagine the consternation of the program directors. The cars at the events for the most part were not even registered or licensed. Due to this dope stealing a Viper, the show directors decided that since the Orlando event was the last one of the year, the Viper would not be available for test drives.

But all was not lost, at least not yet. The lack of people at the event meant that the guys in charge were readily accessible. I made my approach. An explanation of what I was doing there, and that I wrote for a enthusiast site called allpar.com with about 40,000 or so participants [editor’s note: that's the forum registration; and Curtis was already registered with Chrysler as a staff writer] got some attention. My request to drive a Viper, even in a out of the way part of the parking lot, had not been refused. As I said to them, just for tactile input, and a general feel of the car. I was partially rewarded in not receiving a lot of laughs. Some consultations were held. Finally, the person in charge told me that he would have to check with his supervisor, and I should check back with him later. In the meantime, he gave me extra SRT cards for extra drives in the SRT models.

Around 2 pm, as I was testing the ordinary models, a roar and a commotion went out in the Viper paddock. The SRT-10 Dodge pickup and the Viper were on the loose, putting on, and I still don't get this……. a drifting demo.     

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This doesn't represent all the maneuvers that the drivers put the vehicles through, but it does sort of give you an idea what was going on.  Those are 345/30Z R19 98Y tires.

A full garage was brought along by tractor-trailer. Tire changes were constant. With the Michelins costing about $420 apiece, retail. They had a few sets out back. Yes, that black Viper is what I had my eyes set on to drive.

My cell phone rang. It was the production director. He could not reach his supervisor, but would speak with him in the evening.

Sunday morning dawned clear and somewhat cool. The sun shone brightly. The production manager gave me a start when he told me to come on over and talk to him. He had some good news. I was thrown into a rush. I actually was going to get to test drive a Viper!

Imagine my surprise when the event manager said that he had checked out allpar.com and was impressed. I was too, not by allpar, because I already knew, but by the fact that he had taken the time to check it out. Based upon the large number of people that are registered in the forums, he agreed to let me “ride” in the Viper.

I met my driver for the occasion, who just happened to be a cousin of a highly respected family that is well involved with racing. I didn't press him as to why he wasn't out there raging around on a track somewhere. The family resemblance however was clearly unmistakable.

Before I even got near the car itself, my driver commanded my full attention. He was firm in admonishing me to be extremely careful in entering and exiting the Viper. The reason is shown below:

Take note of the large "hole" in the side rails, just ahead of the rear wheel openings. Those are the tips of the engine exhaust outlets. Since its inception, Viper has been equipped this way in that the engine exhaust pipes run inside the doorsills. Imagine, they used to be exposed.  I was told in no uncertain terms that it would "fry your skin quicker than a chicken leg at KFC!" With his voice garnering my attention, he added that, "you may forget once, but it is a sure thing you would never forget again!" I asked him if he spoke from experience and he acknowledged that just about everyone that drives or owns a Viper gets a mark of distinction. Lead to a few disagreements with friends, and a break up or two with the significant other.

As I came closer to the driver side door, I could actually still see the heat waves slowly rolling off the tip. It was also then that I had a sort of revelation. This looks like a big car at first. It is not. The wheelbase is 98.8 inches. That is 8.2 feet between the center of the wheels. As I stood with the ignition key in my hand, I noted that my host (escort-bodyguard-driver police) was looking at me quizzically.

Taking a deep breath, and being extremely conscious of the hot door sill, I swung my leg in. Tell you one thing, you better be pretty supple. It sort of woke we up all right. By using my hand on the side of the steering wheel, I slowly pulled the rest of me inside. I sort of fell inside, and had to pull my leg with my hand to get the rest of me in. Once that was accomplished, another tough realization hit me. This cockpit is tight! Further, when I tried to move around a little to kind of orient myself, the seat bolster held me firmly in place. That may not be a bad thing, but it didn't lend itself to maximizing what I thought might be an ideal driving position for myself.  And you got to be careful moving around because the top is like almost touching your head. I was stunned at the closeness feeling confined once I was inside. I am not a real fan of enclosed spaces, and a momentary pang of loss of freedom came over me as I checked around in the Viper Command Seat. The view outside is constricted as well. The big convertible roof panels shut off looks to the right, so the mirror on the right side becomes very critical. Forget trying to see out the rear. You might be able to see someone who has taken up a "tail gator" position. The top doesn't give you much view through the inside rear view mirror. Too narrow.

But, well all right, I am in a Viper! Sitting in the seat like I knew what I was going to do. While I was scoping out the instruments, pedal location, and the six speed gear shift, I noted that the Viper was very warm inside. The temperature was a nice 72° outside, almost too cool for Florida.

This is the view of what I was looking at. These shots are from the Viper that was inside with the top down. My little camera would not focus inside the Viper I was getting ready to drive. Not enough light and too close to refocus.

This is when you realize you are but a couple steps from unleashing one of the most powerful cars built in America. A 510 horsepower aluminum engine with 8.3 litres of displacement, (505.6 cubic inches) laid out in a V-10 with a 90° block. With that rush, forget about feeling closed in, or what the temperature is as long as you aren't melting. What makes this go so well is the 535 foot pounds of twist that is hooked to a 6 speed Tremec transmission. You have gotten a look at the rear tires. The 19 inchers look like treaded beer kegs under there. They are in turn mounted to a rear axle with a 3.07 ratio in a differential that transmits power equally to both rear wheels when it detects one side attempting to outrun the other. Taking all that power into consideration, the brakes were far from forgotten. In fact, they are massive 14 inch vented discs all around that operate through an upgraded ABS system. The suspension system on the front , which mounts 18 inch tires, consists of control arms, with coil springs, and anti roll bars. The rear is kept in under the car with control arms, coil springs and anti roll bar. Fully decked out, like this one, the Viper checks in with about 3500 pounds of gravity holding it on the ground. Listed price on this one? Only $86,995.

So, now I look up at my "host". He nods his head. I slip the key into the ignition lock and twist it. OK, nothing is going to happen, because this jobbie has a big red "start" button. That is located directly under the 4 gauge dash panel to my right. Like time has slowed down, I reach over and press the big red button. It immediately blasts the big V-10 into an idle. My second seat buddy reaches over and cranks up the air conditioning. I glance at him, and he informs me that the V-10 is a massive heat producer. He assured me that I would begin to notice pretty quickly. I am surprised that it is quiet while it sits in an idle. I am also surprised at the clutch pedal. Granted, I haven't driven a stick shift in quite awhile. The Viper clutch pedal is much lighter than I expected, almost oily feeling. I snick the gear shift a few times, gauging out the gates. The travel is short, the feeling is positive, lending confidence to competent gear changes.

I slip the stick into "first" and glance at my "guide." I am limited to a max run up of 3,000 rpm, carefully watched by my guard friend, who has promised he'd yank out the key if I went too far. Just live with it and let's do this.

I began the clutch take up slowly, trying to get a feel for the car. The tachometer came up to about 1,200 rpm from idle at 700, when all of a sudden, we were launched. Easy. In fact, a lot easier than I anticipated. I had thought that I would either stall it or send the rear tires up in clouds of rubber smoke when I broke traction. But, I didn't, surprising myself. I blipped the throttle, and the engine went a little past 3,000 rpm; my "watch" person seemed or pretended not to notice. A slick move of the shifter into second, along with another quick throttle blip and we were moving out. I had been confined to the property of the Orange County Convention Center Parking Lots. There are many, for the place is huge. But, with the Viper, I felt like I was on a kiddy car track. Slipping into third gear brought the end of one side of the lot, all too quickly. The big brakes snubbed off the speed like it was nothing. Well, I suppose, it was, considering.

The instrument panel is laid out very well. Within a few minutes, you seem to be able to orient yourself to the vital reports that the fully functioning engine gauges are telling you. All the switchgear felt positive, and not like they were made somewhere else and imported to the Viper. The radio controls were familiar to me because I have the same system in my Chrysler. However, you have to take your eyes off the road when you are locating stations, or changing CDs. The switch gear not only looks all the same, it feels the same, and for me, is a tad too small for my fumbly big finders.

My "partner" was right. The heat generated by the V-10 is massive. You can feel it coming through the door sills from the exhaust. The firewall also tosses out a lot of heat, that you feel that in your legs. As well, the center console becomes a heat conduit, making your arm uncomfortable instead of being a nice spot to rest it. You definitely need and will absolutely appreciate the air conditioning.

I pulled up to a stop, and turned the Viper to go into another direction, when I noticed something else that felt a touch odd. The steering wheel is offset to my right! It doesn't line up straight. Once I noticed it, it did tend to bother me. I began to try to compensate through the use of the right hand more than the left. Silly, I know, but you have to wonder why this would be so in a high zoot car like this. The only other car I ever knew that was set up that way was the throwaway Chevrolet Chevette, GM's answer to Ford's Falcon in competing for throw away cars of the century.

This side of the parking area was much longer. Perhaps as much as a mile or better. I slipped up to my 3,000 (well, maybe a little….. bit higher) through 4 gears. By then, it was time to haul the Viper back to stop. I did note that the ride was hard. Small tar strips across the drive transmitted quite definitely into the suspension, which I could feel. I had no way to really tell, but I couldn't help wondering if I would be willing to use the Viper on a daily commute to anywhere. Given some of the concrete roads, even around here that 18 wheeled traffic has beaten down, the ride can be plenty rough.

Since this was an unplanned outing, I had no way to tell what sort of acceleration this sling shot might be capable of, however, through the seat of your pants, you know, that it is straining to go. Just a jab of the pedal away. Even my short pokes on the go pedal resulted in instantaneous response, shooting forward like a shot. The torque delivery is smooth, and linear, with no sudden surprises. Just sheer pure power all totally under the control of your right foot. Much easier to keep in check than I had figured it would be.

My guardian declared that it was time for the show. Yes, I do get to ride in the drifting exhibition, with my partner at the helm. That was part of the agreement I signed, when I waived my right to go on living for a shot at the Viper. Now, there is the situation on extracting yourself from this box. I had to step out to prevent leg fricassee, then pull my head forward, and twist so that I could get my arm onto the top of the car, to enable myself to get free. I wouldn't enjoy that very much every time I drove the car. And it was far from graceful, believe me. On the way around for the switch, I opened the trunk. Wow. Not much room there. I can't imagine some of the guys that I know choosing the Viper to go out on the town with. The boot end wouldn't hold their golf clubs and cases of beer going away. You might be able to haul enough to make it for two for a couple days over a weekend if you make certain that the luggage is small.

Being a young guy, my driver slips in and out of the Viper with ease. Why not? It is in my opinion a younger person's car. It is good that Dodge builds such a monster, however, I would like to see something a little more refined. I mean, hey, an anvil is an anvil! Given the development that has been had for the Viper, the original intent is very much still in the genes. The price of admission no doubt keeps a lot of kids from ever being able to afford a Viper.

Now, he slips in behind the wheel, and I struggle to insert myself into the passenger seat. I click the seat belt into place, and before I can look to straighten myself up, I am slammed back into the seat! The engine screams with a loud belly roar, and the Viper is blasting across the parking lot. I can't get a sense of how fast, because I can't get my head up! No kidding! The punch from that V-10 at full blast generates so much force, that you are just pinned!

I am gonna tell ya, I have ridden or driven a whole lot of very powerful cars. A couple of early model 300s. A 1962 Super Stock Plymouth 413 that my brother ended up racing. A 1964 426 Hemi that my brother had for racing. Some pretty darn hot police packages with the 440 V-8s. And a couple of street ready 426 Hemi V-8s that were docile enough for the wives to operate getting groceries from the store but would rip off stupendous acceleration. Yes, these cars were fast.

One of the greatest automotive writers was a gentleman named Tom McCahill. He began his car testing for Mechanix Illustrated by sneaking off with a 1948 Ford Tudor and wringing it out. He coined the phrase "beautiful brute" when he went all eloquent over some of the original Chrysler 300s that he tested. He went on to say of the later models that they were like "steel fists inside velvet gloves, looking all fine, but with a knock out punch when called on." With all due respect to him, and not to re-coin a phrase lightly, let me say that the Viper is just a brute. A steel fist that is not in any sort of glove, and doesn't apologize for it either!

In my entire experience, I have never, ever, felt a car accelerate so hard! It was just like being in an airplane that had suddenly gone to full take off thrust by a half. I never saw it coming, and it is just an experience that cannot be appreciated unless you go and get in one of these torque delivery monsters for yourself. Let me say this. At no time did I feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Not even a single little bit. The Viper was tough, competent, and straight. My driver tossed it around, spun it out, slammed through the gears, flipped it back and forth across the track, slammed on the brakes, downshifted like crazy, accelerated with his foot stuck right on the floor, and never at any time did he make me feel like he should do anything less. In fact, the sensation was better than riding on the Hulk roller coaster at Universal Orlando Resort! And I rode that thing many a time.

The Viper has its place among vehicles. Really, it is not something that I would choose to be a daily commuter. Although, for weekend outings, and just blasting around, I would not fail to have one, and hey, maybe two or three of them! Just be cautioned that these are tough brutish types of cars. They aren't meant to be Sunday go to Church meeting rides. Blast by the Church, yes!

No doubt there are more sophisticated, perhaps less expensive, more comfortable, cars in this class. But a Viper is a Viper, and there isn't anything else that can come close. A vehicle built in a class by itself.

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A “snake” with an all-new skin—and ultimate display of the production merits of ASC’s patent-pending OmniCarbon™ process--the Diamondback Viper is super-light and super-fast. It’s fitting that ASC, which helped the Chrysler Group bring the new Dodge Viper SRT10 coupe to life, would, with the aid of McLaren Performance Technologies, show how the Viper coupe might be taken to an all-new level of “extreme.”

    The 615hp Diamondback Viper features a carbon fiber roof, deck lid, rockers, fascia inserts, body trim and a massive OmniCarbon™ hood that shows off ten unique trumpeted air intakes, with individual port throttles, peeking through—a McLaren Performance Technologies feature reminiscent of McLaren Can-Am engines of the past.

    The hood also shows off ASC’s expertise in compression-molded carbon fiber, both painted and woven. It’s displayed beautifully, with a broad, clearcoated racing stripe down the Artic White-painted expanse, subtly outlined by “Viper Blue” and “McLaren Red” pinstripes. In all, ASC removed about 85 lbs. of weight from the vehicle—including cutting the weight of the hood by nearly half versus the production model.

    Taken together with the powertrain modifications by McLaren Performance Technologies, the power-to-weight ratio was increased, resulting in an estimated increase in 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds.

    And, importantly, ASC’s OmniCarbon™ isn’t just light and nice to look at: ASC has reduced cycle times in the process by 80 percent versus conventional molding methods, and is confident its process meets OEM production specifications.

   

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