The Pick of the Day is a performance car with awesome capability, but handle with care
The Dodge Viper was such a revelation when it quite literally roared onto the scene in 1991, after teasing us for a couple years with a prototype that looked like a production impossibility. Photos of the crouching show car often had Carroll Shelby leaning up against it, channeling the glory days of the Shelby Cobra.
But the Viper did spring to life and not all that much different from the prototype. It was an amazingly raw-boned roadster, the likes of which we never expected to see again. Powered by a 400-horsepower V10 engine that pounded out 465 pound-feet of torque, the sports car came without electronic driving aids such as traction control, making garish spinouts fairly routine.
The Pick of the Day is one of the originals, a 1995 Dodge Viper RT-10 in basic red, which was the color of the early models and seems just right. The styling still looks audacious, low and muscular with those prominent front-fender openings and side pipes.
The Viper shown here has just over 23,000 miles on its odometer, according to the Dallas dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com, and it looks in the photos to be in pristine condition. Dallas is where Dodge introduced the Viper to the automotive media, by the way, with Ole’ Shel on hand to regale us with stories and jokes. Lots of jokes.
Fairly lightweight with a tubular frame and fiberglass body panels, these cars are fast, with quarter-mile speeds in the mid-12s and a top speed of more-than 150 miles per hour, well into the range of exotic supercars of the day. Fat tires gripped the asphalt, allowing the Viper to generate more-than one lateral g in corners.
Aside from such niceties as power steering, power brakes and a decent audio system, Vipers were as simple and straightforward as possible. Like early ’50s sports cars, there are no external door handles so you have to reach inside for access, which was not a major problem since there are no side windows, just a set of cloth and clear-plastic side curtains that you attached in case of rain. The fabric top is a piece that hooks on between the windshield and the targa bar, looking like an ill-fitting toupee.
But none of that matters if you’re lucky enough to experience the stunning performance of one of these cars, which requires a certain measure of ability as well as restraint to keep on the road.
The asking price is $37,995, which seems modest for such a unique piece of all-American muscle-car motoring.
To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.