1993 Dodge Viper RT/10
June 29, 2009 10:06 AM
The spartan viper lacked many conventions, including exterior door handles; instead of side windows, plastic curtains zippered into place.
During the 1980s, Chrysler gained a reputation for producing reliable family-oriented vehicles, lots of mini-vans and K cars. By the end of the decade, Chrysler president Bob Lutz was ready for a change, inspired by a car in his own collection. Lutz wanted to create a real driver's car in the tradition of the Shelby Cobra, which leveraged all the cutting edge Chrysler had in its pocket. After a quick discussion of what such a car might be, design chief Tom Gale got to work, and the Viper prototype was introduced as a concept at 1989's North American International Auto Show.
A sensation with the public, the team at Chrysler's Advanced Design Studios got to work, asking subsidiary Lamborghini to help cast an aluminum block based on Dodge's V10 truck engine. Weighing in at 711 pounds, the "copperhead" engine produced 400 bhp at 4600 rpm and shot from 0-60 in 4.6 seconds, with a maximum speed over 180 mph. By 1990, the car was ready to roll, and one year later, consultant and overall guru Carroll Shelby himself drove a pre-production Viper as the Indy 500 pace vehicle.
Since the spartan Viper lacked typical niceties like traction control, anti-lock brakes, and exterior door handles, it was definitely one of those cars where you either got it and loved it, or you didn't. For Jay, it was love at first site, and he placed his order early so as to receive the second all-black Viper off the line. Of course Jay couldn't resist a few minor refinements: rather than super or turbo charge, Jay put in a Corsa exhaust system and a 373 rear end, which knocked another second off his quarter mile time.