What's New for 2000
The 2000 Viper is available in a new Steel Gray color and the new ACR version offers additional performance.
Designed to be the modern incarnation of the Cobra, Viper debuted at the 1989 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as a show car. Enough people wrote to Chrysler requesting street versions that plans for production of the rakish roadster were set into motion soon thereafter. Viper was introduced for public sale in 1992, and became the darling of the automotive press, not to mention high-profile stars like Jay Leno and Kelsey Grammer (who flipped his).
A preview of things to come from Chrysler, the success of the Viper revitalized a company that many thought wouldn't last through the middle of this decade. It also paved the way for future concept-car-turned-production-car models, including the Plymouth Prowler and Chrysler PT Cruiser.
Dodge introduced the GTS Coupe midway through 1996. The 8.0-liter V10 was substantially reworked, featuring a new block, new heads, shorter cooling jackets and a revised sump. These changes resulted in a 35-horsepower jump to 450. Overall, the revised motor is 85 pounds lighter than the one in the old RT/10. Both the GTS Coupe and the RT/10 roadster models now come with this upgraded drivetrain.
Inside the Viper, analog gauges and dual airbags greet serious drivers, who have the much-appreciated option of adjusting pedal height. Power windows and door locks are standard, but ABS, traction control and dynamic stability control are not available. The interior is dominated by cheap-feeling plastic, and the seats are virtually nonadjustable. Getting into the car requires a waiver from a chiropractor, and getting out often results in singed legs due to the exhaust pipes being integrated within the car's lower rocker panels.
For those individuals who need more than the standard Viper's 450 horsepower, a race-oriented ACR edition will be produced in limited numbers for the 2000 model year. These fire-breathers gain an extra 10 horsepower through the use of minor engine modifications while losing 60 pounds of curb weight from the deletion of the sound system, air conditioning, and fog lights. The ACR also comes with upgraded suspension components, 18-inch BBS wheels and massive Michelin Pilot Sport tires. Zero-to-60 times of 4 seconds and a top speed near 190 mph bear witness to this being a very special Viper. Dodge plans on making between 100 and 200 ACR units, most of which will see duty at amateur and semi-professional racing events on the weekends.
Despite its obvious ergonomic shortcomings and a lack of overall refinement, the Viper is chock-full of character. Its sights, sounds, and smells offer a classic take on modern sports car philosophy. Those "enthusiasts" who like their performance dolled out in friendly portions should look elsewhere. Those seeking the ultimate in exotic-car performance at less than an exotic-car price will find the Viper a bargain. Truly, Chrysler Corporation has created an American icon that rivals the Corvette's claim as "America's Sports Car."