2009 Dodge Viper: Escaping LA and Envious Teens
September 13, 2010
This, or variations of it, was the view from our Dodge Viper last Friday afternoon. Nothing tells you that you're living the automotive dream (the dream, man!) better than driving your $95,000, 600-horsepower sports car at a bicycling pace for a couple of hours. At least in the Viper the gearing is so tall that you can avoid shifting and theoretically stay in first gear past 60 mph before hitting the rev limiter. So there's that.
Actually, this was my first experience driving the Viper. (Editor-in-chief Oldham's words to me before I left the office: "Be careful.") It's been a while since I've driven a Viper, and I've never driven the latest, second-generation car. Some things are still very familiar, though. There are the wide door sills and the requisite butt-plop to get in. There's the view of the long hood out of the windshield. There's the simplified dash and the tall shifter that you have to raise your right arm some to keep on top of. And there's the V10's sound, which will never win a Grammy.
Separated at birth: The sound of the Viper's V10and a UPS truck.
On the highway, our Viper doesn't seem to attract as much attention as some other exotics we've had in the fleet recently, like the Audi R8 or Ford GT. Maybe it's because seeing a Viper isn't really fresh or original nowadays? Still, it's a lot more "look at me!" than most other cars out there.
Around dusk during my highway drive (once I was clear of Los Angeles), a white previous-generation Ford Mustang with three teenage boys pulled up alongside. I could just feel them all staring at me. Then the driver nailed the throttle (showing off the fury of his 190-hp V6) backed off, let me catch up, and did it again. Oh, how I love me some teenage driver chest thumpin'.
So what did I do? That's right, I dropped the Viper down to 2nd gear, nailed the throttle and rifled past the hapless Mustang while simultaneously yelling out: "How do you like them apples!" Or maybe that was me in Macho Man World. Actually, I did nothing except keep driving. I'll admit it was tempting to play along -- if you've got 600 hp, why not use it? But there was nothing to gain. I knew the Viper was wicked fast. They knew it. And I want a speeding ticket like I want a colonoscopy.
Finally, they got bored and exited the highway. And I was left with open road ahead.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 16,131 miles