2002 Viper New Car Test Drive
Dodge has promised an all-new and significantly evolved Viper for 2003. So if the original species has slithered into your heart, you need to catch one now before they become extinct.
Although entering its 11th season, this snake is still the behemoth of the jungle, suffocating its rivals with outrageous styling and brutal torque. The Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette are each more refined and easier to drive. They each possess a longer pedigree in the sports car world. But they also convey a very different image. If the Porsche is Wagner, and the 'Vette is Jim Morrison, then Viper is Mettalica. Armed with sledgehammers.
And in just over a decade, the Viper has established a pedigree of its own: Vipers won the GT Class at Le Mans in 1998, 99, and 2000. They earned international GT2 and GT championships in 1997, 98, and 99. A factory Viper team won the class title in the American Le Mans Series in 1999. Then a Viper won the 2000 24 Hours of Daytona outright, bettering the European prototypes that were assumed to be faster. It remains the hot setup among production street cars, if Car and Driver magazine's One Lap of America is any indication. As a sports car with real credentials, the Viper doesn't have to apologize to anyone. Not that it looks like it's going to be making any apologies.
The Viper line has two models, the original RT/10 Roadster ($69,225) and the newer GTS Coupe. The RT/10's inspiration was the mid-Sixties Shelby Cobra 427, while the Coupe is clearly modeled after the Shelby Daytona Coupe.
Base price for the GTS Coupe is $72,225. Our test car featured the American Club Racing competition package, a $10,000 option that adds 10 horsepower and 10 foot-pounds of torque, stiffens the suspension and deletes comfort features such as air conditioning, stereo and fog lights. The ACR option is designed for buyers who seriously plan on entering their Viper in races, but no doubt some folks will want it for bragging rights on the street. Just for them, a $1,100 comfort group re-adds the A/C and the stereo.