When it comes to topping out with American sports-performance, the Dodge Viper has been one of the first names motorists utter. The Viper was based in part on the AC Cobra in conjunction with designing by Caroll Shelby. First-generation Vipers rolled out for the 1992 model year with a 7.98L V10 engine which produced up to 400 horsepower and 465 pounds-per-foot of torque. The original version of the engine was comprised of cast-iron and proved to be too heavy for the car to support. In turn, the engine parts were redesigned by Lamborghini (then owned by Chrysler) and re-cast in aluminum alloy to make it light enough for the Viper's design to handle. The engine was mated to a six-speed manual transmission with power directed to the rear wheels. As for the vehicle's dimensions, the first-generation Viper measured in with a wheelbase of 96.2 inches, a width of 75.7 inches, a height of 44 inches, and an overall length of 175.1 inches. The body parts of the Dodge Viper were constructed from tubular steel and fiberglass panels to provide a sturdy enough chassis without bogging the vehicle down in weight. Also in effort to keep the vehicle's weight at a reasonable number, the car came without traction control, ABS brakes, air conditioning, and other features more common in contemporary vehicles. The Viper made an impression in its first run, as it clocked 0-60 miles-per-hour in 4.6 seconds and 0-100 mph in 9.2 seconds. Its top-speed came in around 165 miles-per-hour.
The model itself was given a redesign come 1996, which also introduced the GTS, the Viper's coupe version. The Viper's body-shape didn't change too much, but the engine was upgraded for the second generation. It was still a 7.98L V10, but this time around the horsepower was increased to 450 (415 in RT/10 versions; come 2002, the RT/10 would also produce 450 horsepower). Once again, the engine was geared to a six-speed manual transmission. As for the model's performance numbers, the Dodge Viper now did 0-60 mph in about 4 seconds flat and 0-100 mph in 8.6 seconds, showing off a top speed of 187 mph. 2003 welcomed in another redesign of Dodge Viper accessories, this time with the engine lighter by approximately 500 pounds but with more power. Both the GTS and RT/10 were removed from the lineup, leaving the new SRT-10. Offered as both a two-door roadster convertible and a two-door coupe (2005), the Viper was equipped with an 8.3L V10 engine (roadsters pushed out 500 hp with 535 pounds-per-foot of torque while the coupe was rated slightly higher at 510 hp).
Dodge introduced the fourth generation Viper for the 2008 model year. The engine was an 8.4L V10 capable of 600 horsepower and 560 pounds-per-foot of torque directed through a six-speed manual transmission. Several other notable changes were made to the Dodge Viper parts, including the lack of a crossover with the new exhaust system, which eliminated excess heat reaching the cockpit. Other alterations to the Viper included the additions of anti-roll bars, new springs, and Michelin Pilot Sport tires. Boasting a top speed of 202 mph (0-60 in 3.5 seconds, 0-100 in 7.6), the fourth generation of the Dodge Viper is the fastest yet. Throughout its history, the Viper has proved to be a successful racing model, garnering numerous checkered flags at the FIA GT championships, BELCAR championships, and at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. It has also received acclaim from within the automotive industry, having been named a runner-up for the prestigious Motor Trend Magazine Car of the Year award as well as being dubbed the Automobile Magazine Automobile Racing Car of the Year (2000).
Armed with a reputation for big-time performance, the Dodge Viper is powerful, beautiful and menacing. A Viper driver does not see the road as a path of red-lights and rules, but rather as a conquest, a mission, and a finish line. A Dodge Viper is a cruise missile on a battlefield full of bullets: everyone notices. Once a show car, always a show-stopper, the Dodge Viper never backs off when it comes to both style and substance.
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