The Lotus Elise is pure unfiltered, and connected. And while the Dodge Viper ACR is just as visceral as an Elise, none of those descriptors apply. Rather, the Viper conjures words like raw, bestial, and distant. It is one of the more challenging modern cars to drive hard. Beyond the ludicrous, intoxicating capability of a 600-hp car riding on a race-ready suspension, the Viper's appeal is quite shallow. Still, the Viper is a car worth celebrating for being one-of-a-kind. Dodge isn't just pulling the Viper off the market next year, they're killing an entire one-vehicle segment. No other sports car is this single-minded or so demanding.
It's not fun to watch the Viper fade from existence, but it's easy to see why Chrysler has made that decision. It would take a sizeable investment to update the Viper to the standards that the buyers, competition, and government require. The interior is two generations behind what anyone expects in a modern car. Even the driver's connection, the steering wheel, is cheap and outdated. The long, imprecise throws of the shifter are unacceptable in a sports car. And the Viper's lack of advanced electronics means the engineering team would have to assemble a stability control system to meet pending regulations. No, the Viper doesn't deserve to die. It deserves a second chance at life with a significant redesign. But without the ability to finance basic improvements, perhaps it is best that the aged Viper retire while the memories are still good.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor