Since my reputation for writing about the collector car market is well known, people often ask questions when I meet them at events. The question I get asked the most is: what car is going to be a classic in the future. I, like many who cover the collector car market, have a crystal ball powered by Lucas Industries. However, if there is one truly sure thing out there, especially among more modern American cars, I would say a future classic will be the Dodge Viper.
The Viper was conceived in secret and was the pet project of Bob Lutz when he was at Chrysler. He saw it as a modern interpretation of the original Shelby Cobra, a car he was at the time using to get to work at Chrysler. He had ta team of 85 team, led by Roy Sjoberg, for the project that included Carroll Shelby, and they built a car that truly delivered on the modern Cobra idea. The Viper prototype was introduced at the 1989 North American Auto Show in Detroit and public reaction to the concept was so strong that a miracle happened! Development began and the production version of the Viper went on sale in January 1992.
Calling the Dodge Viper a production car is a bit unfair, as it is much more than that. Every version of the Viper was a car that was literally handmade in Detroit by a dedicated team. This is something we are never likely to see again for one of the big three.
Of the five different generations of the Viper, there are many opinions on which is the one to buy. Of course, a first-year car is a good choice for collectability but which of the generations is the best of all Viper models. I decided to go directly to the source and called my friend Ralph Gilles, chief design officer at Stellantis and a person who was heavily involved with the design of quite a few of the generations of Viper. In fact, he played a big part of resurrecting the car when it was set to be discontinued in the mid 2000s. I figured if anyone would have an educated opinion about which was the best car it would be him.
According to Ralph, the ACR Gen 5 is the most accomplished, best looking and has the pedigree and all the analog bits that make it the most enthralling one to drive. It was designed to be the cocktail made up of a bit of all the ones before to make it the best.
The best value out there is the Gen 5 GT. They were a Viper in a GT package and can easily driven across the country as well as used on the track. Ralph says the fit and finish of this model was great, and it was a true GT that didn’t get the attention it deserved.
All Vipers regardless of era will be valuable in the future, they only made about 36,000 cars in 27 years of production. These words of wisdom Ralph imparts to a future owner, “Avoid any Viper that has been highly modified. Buy one that is stock. These were great cars an all their teething issues are worked out in their first months of ownership.”
He continues with typical issues that can be red flags in other cars aren’t with Vipers. For example, track use and higher miles aren’t an issue and they don’t rust. He loves them because it is an experience to own and drive.
Of course, not perfect but in the right hands the Viper is still one of the fastest cars on a racetrack. It is one of those cars that makes you earn it and it gives back to you tenfold. Ralph drove the Viper on 75 separate track day events, and says, “It made me work to master the car, making me a better driver. If you can drive a Viper fast you can drive anything.”
The Viper has aged well, and the design is still very compelling. Younger people love them, and you will always get into conversations at a gas station. They seem more popular now that when new.
With the idea that the 5th generation is the best and most developed of these special American supercars, the Pick of the Day is a 2013 Dodge Viper SRT. Sadly, there were no GTs for sale on our site, but this is still a great version of the Viper.
The seller describes the car as having 2,165 total miles from new and is painted in the appropriately named color of Adrenaline Red.
The seller located in Morgantown, PA goes on to state that the car is what you would expect from a car with this few miles. They add that the owner/consignor of this Viper never raced it, tracked it or smoked in. When it was not being enjoyed, it was kept in a climate-controlled garage under a custom fitted red and white cover. Finally, all service and recalls were performed as necessary since he has owned the car.
The asking price for this stunning Viper is a market correct $143,900 and is not likely to last long as these 5th generation Vipers seem to rise in price weekly.
My personal take is that the Dodge Viper is important in that these cars are so analog, especially when compared to other supercars of their era, that they demand that the driver completely engages on all levels with the car to get the most from it. If a driver does that, they will be amazed at what the Viper is able to do.
Once you learn to drive these cars, the sense of personal accomplishment is second only to driving a racecar on track in an actual wheel-to-wheel race and crossing the checkered flag in 1st place. They offer a complete break from the ever-increasing technological world that we are surrounded by, a break from all things digital. They are the last of the pure performance cars we are ever likely to see from a volume manufacturer and will continue to be celebrated for what they are and what they are not. My advice is to either buy this one now or find one that better matches your desires and budget and drive the wheels off of it.
To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.