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The Dodge Viper: History, Generations, Models, and More

All things Dodge Viper on Automobile.

Dodge Viper Essential History

First Generation

The Dodge Viper first came about as an idea of Chrysler's then-president Bob Lutz, who wanted the brand to build its own sports car in the vein of the Shelby Cobra. Shortly after, Chrysler designer Tom Gale had produced a clay model of what would become the Viper, and plans for a V-10 engine that would be shared with Ram pickups were underway. Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca greenlighted the project and the world first saw the Dodge Viper as a concept at the 1989 Detroit auto show. While Cobra patriarch Carroll Shelby was involved in the project, his involvement was at a minimal level, primarily helping to publicize and market the car.

In 1992, the production Viper RT/10 was displayed at that year's Detroit auto show with styling that remained in line with the previous concept. With a 400-hp, 465-lb-ft, 8.0-liter V-10 engine co-developed by Chrysler-owned Lamborghini, a six-speed manual transmission and virtually no creature comforts (the Viper lacked glass side windows, air-conditioning, stability control, ABS, a roof and exterior door handles), the Viper was the new bad boy sports car for the 1990s. Zero to 60 mph happened in just 4.2-seconds, far quicker than a new standard Chevrolet Corvette or Porsche 911 Carrera 2, and top speed was over 160 mph.

Second Generation

The second-generation Dodge Viper arrived in 1996, but there were few initial changes to the RT/10 roadster. Power increased to 410 hp and 488 lb-ft of torque halfway through the '96 model year, and a fiberglass hardtop was added as an option, while the side-exit exhaust was replaced with a conventional rear-exit design. The big news was the Viper GTS coupe, which came at the end of 1996. Just as the roadster had taken styling cues from the drop-top Shelby Cobra, the coupe borrowed from the Shelby Daytona Coupe. The GTS was a still a brutish car and made even more power, now rated at 450 hp and 490 lb-ft, but also boasted niceties such as air conditioning, exterior door handles, power glass side windows, and airbags. The following year, the more powerful engine, glass side windows, and airbags were standard on the roadster as well.

Third Generation

A new Viper roadster arrived for the 2003 model year dubbed the Viper SRT-10. With input from Chrysler's SRT performance division, the only model offered initially was a roadster, which featured sharper lines than the curvaceous first- and second-gen Vipers. The V-10 engine remained, bumped in displacement to 8.3 liters and lightened, resulting in 500 hp and 525 lb-ft. Overall, this Viper was slightly larger than its predecessors, but also lighter by a couple hundred pounds. A Viper SRT-10 coupe arrived in 2005 with another bump in power, now to 510 hp and 535 lb-ft.

Fourth Generation

As history would tell you, more power was key to going forward with the fourth-generation Dodge Viper. For the 2008 model year, the Viper was again reborn with an 8.4-liter V-10 engine that now made 600 hp and 560 lb-ft of torque with extensive revisions to the cylinder head, including variable valve timing and twin throttle bodies. A new six-speed Tremec manual gearbox, revised suspension, a limited-slip differential and other improvements began to shift the Viper's focus from a high-powered toy to a more focused performance car. To emphasize this point, a higher performance Viper ACR set a Nürburging lap record before Dodge announced it would kill the car in 2010.

Fifth Generation

Despite indications to the contrary, a new fifth-generation Viper was being shown to dealers and VIPs by the end of 2010, though it wouldn't be until 2012 that the new production car would be unveiled at that year's New York auto show for the 2013 model year. Keeping the 8.4-liter V-10 engine, now producing 640 hp and 600 lb-ft, nearly everything else was changed, with a new six-speed manual transmission, reworked body panels made from carbon fiber and aluminum, and finally, electronic stability control and traction control. The Viper's 0-60 mph time was down to 3.5 seconds and the top speed was finally above 200 mph. By 2015, power was raised once again to 645 hp. Despite more capability and sophistication than ever before, the fifth-generation Viper simply wasn't selling well, leading to plenty of special-edition models. In 2017, the Viper was again killed, the publicized reason being that it had no way of including now-mandatory side-curtain airbags on the current platform.

Dodge Viper Highlights

As high-performance a vehicle as any Viper is, Dodge made several even more potent variants. The first special variant was the second-generation Viper GTS ACR (American Club Racer), with uprated power (460 hp/500 lb-ft), 50 lbs less weight, fog lamps replaced with brake cooling ducts, stiffer suspension and 20-spoke BBS wheels. An GT2 Commemorative Edition was also available as a limited 100-car run with a GTS-R race-car lookalike rear wing, blue-and-white paint scheme, five-point racing harnesses, and other aero aids.

In 2008, a Viper ACR was again offered with grippier Michelin tires, along with special brakes, suspension, aero enhancements, but no extra power. A Hardcore Package also deleted plenty of creature comfors including the radio, air conditioning, and trunk carpet, while a lap-timer and even more advanced aero were also included. In 2016, another Viper ACR plus optional ACR Extreme Aero Package came online.

The Viper ACR-X was available from 2010 which bumped horsepower by 40 hp over the standard ACR and added front aero canards, unique headers, a minimalistic interior and other upgrades, thought the car was not street-legal and intended for racing or track events only. A street-legal TA (Time Attack) variant was also available between 2013 and 2016, available in 1.0 and 2.0 spec. These cars had sophisticated Bilstein suspension, special wheels, Brembo brakes, a carbon fiber X-brace, and lots of aero add-ons.

Dodge Viper Buying Tips

Generally speaking, used Dodge Viper prices (remember, the Viper is out of production) increase as the cars get newer, as typical of most "used cars." First- and second-generation roadsters are typically the most affordable, with second-generation GTS coupes following, then third-, fourth-, and fifth-generation cars rounding out the lot in progressing expense. Special- and limited-edition models, like ACR cars and the GT2 Championship Edition command varying premiums over standard cars. A word of caution: Vipers attract owners who like to put their foot down pretty hard and many have also been tuned (amateurishly, in many cases) to within an inch of their lives. The sum-up? Proceed with caution and retain a knowledgeable Viper expert to help you inspect a potential buy for unseen problems.

Dodge Viper Articles on Automobile

Viper number one was first owned by Lee Iacocca

Viper production comes to an unfortunate close.

Sad news broken by Ralph Gilles ahead of Chicago

Snakes alive!

The end of an era culminated in five special editions

The car for when you absolutely, positively have to be the fastest.

A monster in killer's clothing, and we want one.

Enjoying some of the final miles we'll get in Dodge's shot of anger.

Behind the wheel of Time Attack Viper

Our first look at the third-generation Viper

Our Dodge Viper drives through the years

Dodge Viper Recent Auctions

Dodge Viper Quick Facts

  • First year of production: 1992
  • Last year of production: 2017
  • Total sold: 31,850 (approx. )
  • Original price (base): $50,000
  • Characteristic feature: Loud, brash and uncouth, the Dodge Viper is America's most venomous sports car, a take on the Shelby Cobra for a new age.

Dodge Viper FAQ

  • Why was the Dodge Viper discontinued?

FCA canceled Viper production primarily due to flagging sales and other more profitable priorities, though the official reason was that the car wouldn't accept mandatory side-curtain airbags.

  • How much is the Dodge Viper?

Generally speaking, the earliest Viper roadster models command prices in the mid-$20,000 range, while special editions and the latest cars can bring upwards of $100,000. Others lie in-between these prices.

  • How much is a 2019 Dodge Viper?

Dodge ended viper production in late 2017, no 2019 model was produced.

  • How fast is a Viper car?

The 0-60 mph time on a Viper varies from around 3.5-seconds to 4.5 seconds. Top speed ranges from 160 mph to over 200 mph, depending on variant and year.

  • Is a Viper a supercar?

While early Vipers weren't quite as focused, by the end of Viper production, the cars were certainly at supercar levels of performance and set numerous production car lap records around the world.

2013 Dodge SRT Viper GTS Specifications

Price: $122,390 (includes gas-guzzler tax)
Engine: 8.4L OHV 20-valve V-10/640 hp @ 6,200 rpm, 600 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Layout: 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA Mileage: 12/19 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H: 175.7 x 76.4 x 49.1 in
Wheelbase: 98.8 in
Weight: 3,374 lb
0-60 MPH: 3.4 sec (est)
Top Speed: 177 mph

2014 Dodge SRT Viper TA Specifications

Price: $123,080 (includes gas-guzzler tax)
Engine: 8.4L OHV 20-valve V-10/645 hp @ 6,200 rpm, 600 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Layout: 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA Mileage: 12/19 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H: 175.7 x 76.4 x 49.1 in
Wheelbase: 98.8 in
Weight: 3,390 lb
0-60 MPH: 3.4 sec (est)
Top Speed: 177 mph

2015 Dodge Viper GT Specifications

Price: $99,090 (base)
Engine: 8.4L OHV 20-valve V-10/645 hp @ 6,200 rpm, 600 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Layout: 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA Mileage: 12/21 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H: 175.7 x 76.4 x 49.1 in
Wheelbase: 98.8 in
Weight: 3,415 lb
0-60 MPH: 3.4 sec (est)
Top Speed: 206 mph

2016 Dodge Viper ACR Specifications

Price: $122,490 (includes gas-guzzler tax)
Engine: 8.4L OHV 20-valve V-10/645 hp @ 6,200 rpm, 600 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Layout: 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA Mileage: 12/21 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H: 175.7 x 76.4 x 49.1 in
Wheelbase: 98.8 in
Weight: 3,392 lb
0-60 MPH: 3.4 sec (est)
Top Speed: 177 mph