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Classified ad of the week: Dodge Viper
Think American supercar, and you’ll think Viper. And, like the country it was built in, everything is enormous. As in massive. Dimensions, power, even tyres - it’s a monster.
Well, nearly everything… The price was always kept as close to terra firma as possible. Even the new one, which has revolutionary new things like electronics and carbon fibre and sound deadening, is only going to cost £75,000. Which is, admittedly, a large pile of money, but for what you get it’s as good as peerless.
Delve into the murky second-hand market, and prices plunge lower than an awards-night neckline. Just look at this plastic-duck-yellow RT/10. It has ten cylinders, 450bhp, displaces 8.0 litres, gets from 0 to 60mph in 4.0 seconds and won’t run out of puff till 185mph. The price? £28,995. That’s nearly two grand cheaper than a VW Golf R.
Of course, it’ll try and kill you a lot more than the Golf. This is second-generation, which means more power and less weight than its predecessor, a car infamous for its propensity to wear Planet Earth as a hat. Compared with its older brother, there’s a reworked engine with more muscle and less weight, an almost completely redesigned chassis that was made 27.2kg lighter and 25 per cent stiffer, rejigged suspension and better brakes.
That lot conspired to a quarter-mile time of 12.3 seconds (that’s 0.3 seconds and 16mph faster than its predecessor), and all the tinkering underneath meant that lateral grip was up to nearly a full g (0.98g). As a late car, this thing’s also got ABS (unbelievably, it was the first Viper to have it fitted), so you can enjoy your last moments for a few milliseconds longer.
It’s also full of what were considered luxuries by Viperista. You get TWO whole airbags in the front, 18-inch bling-a-ding rims, electric windows (they weren’t introduced till 1999…), leather seats and a shifter that looks a lot like a pool ball on a stick, saving the sort of people that’d buy one the bother of fitting their own.
Obviously, it’ll drink fuel by the bucket, break down all the time, insurance would cost more than a gold-plated Stetson and driving one over here’s tantamount to wearing chromed cowboy boots to a garden party. But is there a bit of you - a little dangly bit - that thinks it might be a bit hilarious to chop in your Mondeo for it?