2009 Dodge Viper Long Term Road Test

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2009 Dodge Viper: Driving Off Into the Sunset

November 04, 2010

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No big secret that the Dodge Viper is on its last legs. Production officially ended months ago, and even our long-termer is due back in Michigan soon.

Made me glad that I took it on one last run to Vegas before it goes. It was a good reminder of what a civilized car it can be, reasonably frugal too, as V10s go at least. I averaged a not-embarrassing 19.3 miles per gallon for the trip.

As refined as it can be, the Viper will still rip your face off with the best of them. After droning along on the freeway for hours on end, I finally stopped for gas about an hour from home. As I pulled back onto the freeway after filling up, I ripped through second and hard into third and completely scared the crap out of myself. Not that many cars are capable of this, and yet the Viper can do it in just about any gear. Gonna miss this thing.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line @ 19.011 miles

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Our Favorite Caption

October 22, 2010

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Thanks to stpawyfrmdonut for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the others that made us coil up with laughter:

That time of year again: Viper Springs forward, Toyota fails back. (ergsum)
Snake on a Chicane (ergsum)
Viper's calm before the storm (captobvious)
It's about to rain on Toyota's parade. (vt8919)
This, literally, is a Snake on a Plane. (vt8919)
Point of Hisstorical Interest (ergsum)
Crouching Viper, Hiding Camry. (ampim)
That Viper just ate my Prius! Look, you can see the shape of it in its belly! (ampim)
Fangs for the memories, Willow Springs. (ergsum)
Snake on a Hydroplane (ergsum)
Days of Thunder (technetium99)
The fastest road in the West!....to nowhere (mrryte)
"Viperidae Fastus Acceleratis" in its natural habitat. (ergsum)
It's Feeding Time. (sherief)
Hey kids: History can be fun! (felonious)
Storm chasers, meet the Storm catcher! (gmanaed)
Dessert in the desert! (snipenet)
Toyota pace car, my Asp (mnorm1)

What was your favorite?

To the winner:
You can select one of these three prizes:

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: The Viper's Last "Yee-Ha!" Part 1

October 22, 2010

Dodge Viper SRT-10 Monticello.jpg

As we enter the last precious weeks of our Dodge Viper long-term test, we thought: "Why not send America's meanest supercar out with a bang?" In our case, that means joining a bunch of Viper owners for a weekend of track driving at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada, during a Viper Days event.

But before I hit the road with Dodge's 600-hp V-10 beast, I got the new-guy-on-the-staff "Don't crash the Viper" talk from Editor in Chief Scott Oldham. Never mind the fact that when he handed me the keys, it was raining out and all four of the Viper's Michelin Pilot Sports had seriously worn outer edges. Yeah, no chance of it getting seriously sideways in the wet...

I'm especially looking forward to this weekend for two reasons: First, any track time is good track time, and second, I've always wondered exactly what type of person buys a Viper. If I don't figure that out by the end of the weekend, I never will.

There are three main facets to Viper Days: 1) The Viper Cup spec series, 2) The Viper Racing League and 3) Viper Driver Education--the last is what I'll be taking part in with Edmunds' orange long-termer. The purpose of Viper Days, according to Chrysler's Scott Brown, is "to help our Viper drivers advance and hone their racing skills." There are multiple run groups of varying skill level, instructor ride-alongs and classroom sessions for the more novice drivers.

As a bonus, Dodge president and CEO (and certifiable Viper nut), Ralph Gilles, will be on hand the whole weekend, racing an ACR-X in the Viper Cup event. My simple plan is to glean as much info. as possible related to the future Viper out of Gilles, while I follow him around in the paddock. That is, until he has me arrested for stalking, since he has no idea who I am.

Should be a fun weekend. Stay tuned.

On a slightly separate topic: Does anyone know the connection between Edmunds' long-term Viper and Cook's Corner? See photo above.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 18,076 miles

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: You Write the Caption

October 22, 2010

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Editor in Chief Scott Oldham sent me this photo of our Dodge Viper in the rain at a point of historical interest.

Got a caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon. And don't forget, we have exciting prizes.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Viper: Can't Miss Another Member of the Viper Nation

October 12, 2010

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Viper owners are a bit of a different breed. They're successful enough to afford a $90K sportscar, but they don't like the idea of buying something typical like a Porsche or a Ferrari. They're not the conservative, old money crowd and they seem to want people to know it.

Case in point, the fellow Viper driver I saw on the freeway this weekend. He was driving a SRT-10 convertible in Anaconda Green. He pulled up alone side me, gave me a wave and a nod and continued to dice through traffic like he was having the time of his life. Nothing too crazy, just making use of the Viper's nearly limitless supply of torque.

I paced him for awhile and we had fun finding holes in traffic that the Viper could exploit. When it was time for me to peel off, he slowed down, gave another friendly wave and sped off. It was a fun 10 or 15 minutes that probably wouldn't have happened in any other car. Nice to know there are still cars out there that inspire that kind of camaraderie.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line @ 17, 322 miles

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Hood Release No Locky

October 08, 2010

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A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog about the unusual exterior hood release of our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper. Immediately someone asked if it locked when the car was locked or could somebody open the hood of a parked and locked Viper.

Well, yesterday I checked and was surprised to find that it does not lock. Viper owners beware.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 17,287 miles

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 or 2010 Volkswagen GTI: Decisions, Decisions.

October 02, 2010

Viper GTi.jpg

200 horsepower v. 600 horsepower. Four seats v. two seats. Rear drive v. front drive. Turbo or N/A. Pretty solid iPod connection or an antique Confuse-o-tron-5000 radio. Non-disableable traction control or complete freedom.

I've got a weekend full of nothing and a decision to make: The keys to the GTI are already in my hand, but the Viper...that orange tempmtress....is just sitting there waiting for someone to steal the keys. That someone, I think, should be me.

Oh, one last thing, it's raining in LA this weekend,

What would you do?

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2009 Dodge Viper: School Run

October 01, 2010

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I forgot I took this picture a couple weeks ago. I had to pick up my 3-year-old daughter at her preschool for a few days in the Dodge Viper.Our long-term program is all about real-life experiences. And when you have a Viper and nothing else to drive, well, offto school it goes.

Of course, it was a blast to be pulling up into the school parking lot in the look-at-me! Viper. I see your silver Honda CR-V, fellow envious father, and raise you by, oh, some 440 horsepower and about a factor of 100 on the coolness scale. And as long as you only have one kid to haul around, the Viper's great!

My daugther loved being in the Viper, too. "Daddy, the orange car goes fast!" she'd say. Yes, yes it does.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Opening The Hood Old School

September 27, 2010

Just how old school is our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper? Well, its hood release is on the outside. That's right, it's in the Viper's grille, just like in the old days. You don't get anymore old school than that. Gotta love it.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Note from the Valet Desk

September 24, 2010

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It doesn't matter really matter which hotel it was, since all the resort hotels in Orange County look the same, a kind of faux Tuscan architecture that they must get from somefranchise outlet, like the company that does Starbucks stores. In any case the valet guys were wildly excited to have the 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 parked in front of their hotel.

This is kind of interesting, since Orange County here in Southern California is the country's capital of self-indulgence, so there are plenty of cars with breathtaking price tags on the street. And yet the valet guys were way more interested in the Viper than some boring old Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG and they were very disappointed to hear that this car is going away. How can it be that old, one of them said to me.It's like it just got here.

It's a reminder of just how well this car turned out. Not that any of us would have guessed as much when it first started banging around the Chrysler design studios in 1988 (the 1989 concept car is pictured below). And in 1991 when we were all standing there in the old Hill & Vaughn vintage-car restoration shop in Venice, California, as the production car was introduced after years of hype that recalled the Chrysler TC by Maserati, the Viper seemed like little more than a marketing excercise.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: 15-Year Reunion

September 24, 2010

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Disregard the cars behind the curtain, a guy's gotta keep some secrets, right?

So anyway, this happened the other day. Our 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 ran into this immaculate '94 Dodge Viper RT/10 roadster. It even had the sweet, three-spoke wheels that were dated then and so-dated-they're-cool today.

15-years, 0.4-liters, exterior door handles, aroofand 200 horsepower separate the two.

Which do you prefer?

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line

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2009 Dodge Viper: Annoying Door Release

September 23, 2010

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It seems to me that the Viper's door releases could have been thought out better. They're locatedon the upper part of the doors, which is fine for opening. But because there's no handle, there's no ideal place to close the door without touching the car's paint. Making the problem worse is that the Viper's doors require a significant shove to get them to fully close. A video follows after the jump to show you what I mean.

After a few days with the car, I found pushing against the window was the best way to avoid touching the paint. This might seem like a nitpick, and it would be if this was a regular, $25,000 car. But if I owned a Viper and liked keeping it looking immaculate, I'd definitely be annoyed. I remember the first-generation Viper had little button releases on the door frame. Those weren't ideal either, but I'd chose that design over the current one.

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2009 Dodge Viper: Super Cool, But I Wouldn't Buy It

September 19, 2010

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For better or for worse, our 2009 Dodge Viper is true to itself. Dodge's sports car has always made performance a top priority. You're getting a 0-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds, a quarter mile of 11.6 and a slalom speed of 74 mph. Heady stuff. You can even go by Nurburgring lap times and argue if you want that the Viper (in ACR trim) has the quickest confirmed real production car lap time. All of this for fewer than $100,000.

But if I were going to be buying a $100,000 sports car, a Viper wouldn't be my top pick. Or third, for that matter.

There's a difference between booting our Viper around for a weekend and the concept of actually owning it. This is where the single-minded focus on performance starts to become a liability. The Viper's biggest letdown for me is its interior. I've spent 100K and I'm stuck with Neon-style window switches, lots of hard plastic and dubious build quality? When a Corvette's interior is better in terms of quality, you know there's a problem.

The Corvette also shows how much more practicality you can get from a sports car. It has a roomier trunk, easier ingress/egress and a more functional gauge cluster. The Nissan GT-R has a back seat. A Porsche 911 is nicer than the whole lot. And all have stability control which you can turn off if you want to live your life without a safety net. And it's not like these cars are hugely deficient in terms of performance or fun.

I do admire our Viper. It's a blast to drive and fun to show off to friends. But if I were spending my own money, I'd get a Z06 or a GT-R on the lower end or a 911 GT3 or Audi R8 on the higher end.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2009 Dodge Viper: What's That Smell?

September 16, 2010

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Oh, that'd be me singeing the hair off my leg because of the Viper's exhaust. I was going to the gym and pulling some gear off the passenger seat after parkingthe carand started to get a whiff of, well, you know. I didn't even feel any heat on my leg, butsome hair must have been rubbing up against the exhaust tip without me knowing it.That's what I get for having hairy chicken legs. Too bad Schmidt wasn't around with his pyrometer to measure at what temperature you singe leg hair.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Exhaust is Hot

September 15, 2010

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I drove our 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 home from work the other day. While the Viper was still at operating temperatureI grabbed my newfavorite toy, theinfrared thermometer. Exhaust is hot. The picture below was taken immediately after the first.

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2009 Dodge Viper: Neighborhood Ride

September 14, 2010

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"Nolan's been eyeing the Viper ever since you brought it home. Can he come over and take a look?" This was a neighbor of mine referring to his nine-year-old son yesterday. Heck yeah!

I gave Nolan a quickrundown of the car and asked him if he wanted to sit in the driver seat. Curiously, he said no, so I told him to sit in the passenger seat and we'd go for a quick ride. Because of its high cowl, the Viper seems to just swallow up the little people (just like Erin mentioned) but the engine start button was a hit. I then burbled the Viper out of our neighborhood and did a couple quick acceleration blasts on an empty street. After we were coasting down from the second one, I looked over and asked Nolan what he thought. "Cool," he said, beeming. There's an understatement for ya.

I'm sure we all have memories of fun rides in hot cars when we were kids. I suspect this will be one for Nolan.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Throwout Bearing Noise

September 08, 2010

viper r34 r1 chev.jpg

As you engage the clutch in our longterm 2009 Dodge Viper on any kind of hill in first gear -- especially when the car is cold -- the clutch's throwout bearing makes a pronounced "wooooo!" noise. At least, I think it's the TOB -- maybe one of our Viper-owning readers could shed some light on this if it's a common thing.

It's been doing this since day one and hasn't become noticeably worse or different, so I'm calling it "normal."

The moment the clutch is fully engaged, the noise stops and you can continue with your plans of terrorizing the county's inhabitants.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 versus 2005 Ford GT

September 03, 2010

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Yesterday, after talking about how our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10is "an Event" to drive, there were a few requests to compare its "Eventness"with a Ford GT.

It's a good question, as both vehicles slot intothatnarrow field ofU.S. exotics produced on a limited basis (relatively speaking in the Viper's case), and both models are now officially out of production.

They're also both "stripey!"

So if you're looking to supportthe home team whileenjoying the most "Event-worthy" ownership experience, which one wins?The result may suprise you...

Let's analyze the major elements that make up an exotic car driving experience andsee how they match up:

Head Turning/Crowd Gathering: I've had both of these cars parked in my driveway while cleaning them or working on them, and they both cause passersby to stop, stare and often pose questions.The attention the Ford GT draws hasalmost become passe, so maybe that's why the Viper's draw has a bigger impact on me. And maybe it's the screaming orange color, but the Dodge easily pulls in the locals aseffectively asthe Ford. I'd almost call this a draw, but I think I have to give it tothe Viper (at least in this color). Winner: Viper

Driver Engagement: I'veoften said the Ford GT is a Mustang with poor visibility. That's not tosuggest the Ford GT is simply a glorified pony carbut merely to make the point thatit's extremely easy to drive. Basically, if you canhandle the demands of driving a Ford Mustang with a manual transmission you can handle the demands of driivng a Ford GT.The Dodge Viper is an entirely different animal. It is not a Dodge Challenger with poor visibility. It's a cantankerous, loud,fussy attention hog. When you drive it, you're engaged --whether you want to be or not. And if you relish the engagement it's pretty rewarding.The GT'seasy-going nature gives the Fordan advantage in terms of being a true gran turismo car (fitting given its name). In terms of driverengagement? Winner: Viper

Performance: There are always two elements to vehicle performance. There's the statistical, numbers-game element that is easy to record on a spreadsheet. And there's the more fuzzy aspect relating to everything from steering feel to backside feedback to throttle response and clutch take-up. You can't easily put numbers on those, but if you're a true enthusiast they matter as much (or more) than the numbers-game.

On the numbers side, the two cars are pretty close.The Long-Term Ford GT pulled zero-to-60 in 3.7 seconds and the 1/4-mile in 11.8 seconds at 124.4 mphin stock form (it shaved 2/10ths off those numbers with the slight mods we later did, but that doesn't count because we're putting it up against a stock Viper). When we track tested our long-term Dodge it pulled zero-to-60 in 3.4 seconds and the 1/4-mile in 11.6 seconds at 125.7 mph. Like most sub-4-second cars the conditions and driver skill make a world of difference when you're talking tenths of seconds, but suffice to say both arequick and the Dodge appears slightly quicker. Viper also has an advantage over the last GT we tested in the slalom (74 mph versus69.5 mph) and braking (107 versus 115 feet).

Stepping beyond the numbers the Viper has the advantage in terms of pure torque because of its increased diplacement and cylinder count, not to mention its normally aspirated engine. But this is offset by the uneven throttle response offered by the snake. It seems Dodge really wanted to protect imprudent drivers from themselves, so the Viper's throttle tends to feel lazy until you push it past 3/4 travel. Other than torque few would argue the GT's advantages in terms of steering feel, shifter refinement and overall driver feedback. If the other two categories are close (and they are) this one is razor thin. Winner: Viper

Not everyone's definition of head-turning style, driver engagementandoverall performance is identical, so your results may vary.Butas someone who hasexperienced both cars recentlyin a variety of conditions the more "Event Worthy" car is the a bright orange 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 that can pull bothcrowds and zero-to-60 timesin under 3.5 seconds; all while forcing you to pay attentionthroughoutevery secondof the process.

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor at Large

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Makes Driving "an Event"

September 01, 2010

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I was driving our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper yesterday and realized I'd gone over halfway home (25 miles) without turning on the audio system. Very unusual, as I tend to get my in-car entertainment handled right after the seatbelt is secured.

It's such a cliche to say, "I don't need no audio system, 'cause my car's drivetrain provides the music," and, honestly, I've never bought into that mentality. Whether driving an old muscle car or a new Ford GT, even the best exhaust note won't keep me satisfied for more than a few minutes.

But the Dodge Viper has more than an exhaust note to keep you entertained (actually much more, which is good because the exhaust toneis pretty mediocreby supercar standards). Driving this car is what's known in exotic car circles as "an Event."

I've heard people argue about the advantages of driving something like a Ferrari over a Mercedes-Benz AMG. Often people (certainly the Ferrari people) claim that even if the AMG pulls the same peformance numbers the Ferrari driving experience is much more of "an Event."

Defining whattransforms a driving experienceinto"an Event"isn't always easy, but it relatesto everything from exhaust note to performance andhandling dynamics to visual impact. A easy measurement can betaken by simply driving a car into a busy parking area. The more heads that spin and/or the larger the size of the crowd that gathers, the more likely your driving "an Event."

In the case of our long-term Viper, the car never fails to turn heads. But that alone doesn't make me forget to turn on the audio system. For me it's the car's combination of potential performance balanced against its potential for disaster if you don't get it right.

You can't just get into a Viper, lean back, and put your left arm on the window sill.The car demands more of you and will quickly teach you the folly of treating it like a standard form of personal transportation. The shifter is inherently clunky, but if you focus you can avoid the worst of it. Of course the power is monstrous, but accessing it can be risky and it's not something you do blithely.

Even more unexpected, theViper is unequivocallygrowing on me (and not in the "somebody get me adisinfectant cream forthis!" kind of way). I wasn't too imrpessed aftermy first drive several months back,andlike any car with foibles (inconsistent throttle response, cantankerous shifter, darty steering, etc.)these faults could have gone from mildly annoying toovertly frustrating over time.

But they didn't. Instead, they simplytaught meto pay attention andtreat the car with respect.You can't make phone calls in the Viper. You don't need audio accompaniment. And don'teventhink about texting. You have to focus and actually DRIVE this car (what a concept, eh?),and if you don't you'll hate it.

But if you do,the Viper will guarantee "an Event."

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor at Large @ 15,639 miles

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2009 Dodge Viper: Our Favorite Caption

August 27, 2010

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Thanks to Franchitti27 for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the other brow raisers:

Another attempt at low-brow automotive humor... (technetium99)
Mad Max Factor (ergsum)
Snake Eyes! (ergsum)
Competition in for a Brow Beating (mcgs999)
The Fast and the Follicles (snipenet)
Hair today, gone in 60 seconds tomorrow. (technetium99)
Can you make them match the roofline? (felonious)
Just browsing. (felonious)
Must... out race... papyrus font! (questionlp)
Pluck, Pluck, Goose the Throttle (rayray633)
Revv-lon (snipenet)
Viper waits patiently for it's star pupil, Iris. (mnorm1)
Hurry up, I have a 7-o-clock with Lipstick Bail Bonds (mustang5507)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

To the winner:
You can select one of these two prizes:

Stig keychain (Just like mine. Yay!)

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2009 Dodge Viper: You Write the Caption

August 27, 2010

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Erin sent me this picture of our 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 at a very specilized shop.

Make your captions extra special good this week. We have a prizes! So, don't miss the caption contest on the Straightline blog, too. That'll give you two chances to win.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Our Viper as TV Star

August 25, 2010

Before we began beating on our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper back in April race car driver Paul Tracy had his way with it filming Speed Channel's new show Battle of the Supercars.

Here's a clip. Should get the nod come Emmy season. And Paul Tracy should get a full face helmet.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Revisiting Its Birthplace

August 20, 2010

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Earlier this week I got an invitation to visit Metalcrafters in Fountain Valley, CA, which is 45 miles from our Santa Monica office. I drove there in our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10.

Why?

Heritage.

Our Very Orange Viper is one of the last of its kind, since Viper production stopped this summer. And the craftsmen at Metalcrafters built the very first Viper Concept for Dodge more than 20 years ago.

The Viper's homecoming was low key. No balloons. No marching bands. It was just me and the car celebrating its 20 year reignas America's supercar.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Hand Wash Only

August 18, 2010

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Yesterday I tried to put our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 though my regular automated car wash. This is as far as it got. Turns out the Viper's rear tires are just toowide for the track that drags the car along.

By the way, our long-term Z06 and a 911 Turbo have been through this car wash with no problem.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 15,100 miles

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Hello 15,000 Miles

August 17, 2010

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This morning our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 clicked past 15,000 miles. That means we've driven it just shy of 10,000 miles since we got the keys fromDodge back in April.

If you're interested, there's a shaky video of the magic momentafter the jump.It's a good insight into the Viper's ride over rough road.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: The Good and the Bad

August 16, 2010

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Check it. I went to the swanky hotel Shutterson the Beachin Santa Monica on Sunday and the valets kept our long-term orange beast up front. That was good. Then, when we were leaving, a women in her late-60s ask me if I would give her a ride in my Ferrari. That was bad.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Skip-Shift Wastes Gas

August 09, 2010

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Let's be honest -- the shifer in ourlong-term 2009Dodge Viper kinda blows.

I'm sure there are all sorts of justifications for why it blows, and the Viper faithful will want to quote those reasonschapter-and-verse, but the way I see it there can be no acceptable excuse. A $90,000 performance car should have a great shifter, end of discussion.

I think the worst part of the shifter is the idiotic skip-shift "feature" that tries to save gas but fails miserably. It's frustrating because I began skipping gearsin manual-shift cars (without an electronic nanny)about 40 seconds after I learned to drive a manual.

But the Viper's systemtries to skip from first to fourth, which is too much of a ratiojump even for a car with this much power. I would argue the feature borders on dangerous, as more than once I've been accelerating from a stop,been forced into fourth gear, and found myself struggling to effectively get across a busy intersection or through an opening in traffic.

"Well if you needed to get across an intersection why didn't you keep your foot in it? The skip-shift only comes inat light throttle application?"

Because that's the curse of the system. You know how much power the Viper has and you know you could easily get where you need to gowith lightthrottle application-- if you could use second and third gear!

But you can't, so you either stay in first and give it more throttle than necessary (translation -- waste fuel) or you forget exactly where the skip-shift cut-off occurs and unexpectedly run into it, forcing you to bang around in neutral as youtry for second or third before the relay finally relents and lets you have the gear you wanted. At this point you're probably slowing someone down, or at least not getting through the opening in traffic you wanted, so you nail the gas to catch back up to where you wanted to be in the first place (translation -- waste fuel).

"Yeah, well anyone buying a Viper probablyisn't too concerned about fuel economy."

Agreed, so why did they put a skip-shift nannyin it?!!

I keep thinking I'll get used to the skip-shift silliness and learn to avoid it, butthen I fall back into logical throttle-gearapplication and ram into it palm first. Ugh!

But the skip shift is only one area where the shifter disappoints. Position? It's too high. Movement? It feelstoo clunky, without the satisfying "snick" I've come to expect in high-priced exotics. Audible cues? See "movement."

"Yeah, but none of that matters in a serious track car Brauer. Why don't you give the keys to someone with the testosterone level it takes to appreciate theViper?"

Again, that's what you have to argue to justify the car'smediocre shifter feel against it's near six-figure price tag.For Viper fans the argument works.For me, it doesn't.

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor atLarge

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: View Over the Hood

August 05, 2010

Viper Hood.jpg

Among the many items I consider when driving a car (seat comfort, ride quality, road noise, does it mess up what's left of my hair with the driver's window down at 60 mph, etc.) I always consider the view over the hood.

Vehicle designers, if they're smart, know this about customers (particularly performance car customers) and take it into account when designing a vehicle's fender and hood shape. The Viper folks clearly knew this, asour long-term caroffers a crisp view over the bulging hood scoop, between the raised fenders.

In a perfectly fitting way, the view over the Viper's hood is akin to staring down the barrel of a high-caliber weapon.

BANG!

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor at Large @ 14,431 miles

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: TV Star

August 03, 2010

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Our Dodge Viper had a bit of a television career before joining our long-term fleet. Tanner Foust and Paul Tracy put our Viper against a Corvette ZR1 on Speed Channel's Battle of the Supercars.

Episode 4 of Battle of the Supercars: The Ultimate American Supercar will air on Speed Channel Thursday, August 5 at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

See if our Viper's got talent.

Battle of the Supercars

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: A Daily Driver by Exotic Standards

July 30, 2010

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Fast as our 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10is, I have to slow down the worldto enjoy it.

When I'm in a hurry to get somewhere, its seating position, limited visibility, sluggish off-the-line responseand lack of cabin lighting drive me up the wall. Yet, when I just forget about getting somewhere (like the office), and just sit back in the semi-reclined driver seat, take my time with the gearchanges, drop the windows to let some the engine heat out of the cockpit, and leave the worries of the law-abiding world behind, the Viper really does satisfy.

Driving it this morning, I thought of our old 1984 Ferrari 308 GTSi. I liked that car best when I didn't care about where I was going, rather only about the road I was going on.

The Viper's V10 can't even be mentioned in the same sentence as the Ferrari's sweet, mid-mounted.... nope, can'ttype it. But you know, it sure is easier to get in and just drive the Viper. You don't have to bleed the cooling systemif it's been sitting for a while; all the electronics work; all the cylinders are firing. For now at least, starting up the Viper is as turnkey as starting up a Honda Fit.

And tomorrow I will take advantage of that and take the Viper on a good long drive. I'm thinking Cerro Noroeste.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 14,074 miles

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT10: Paying It Forward

July 29, 2010

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I'm a 'clean windshield' guy. Any hint of grime and I'm on the squirters -- provided nobody's behind me, of course.

So when our 2009 Dodge Viper SRT10 started sputtering during my roadtrip to CO, I made certain to buy a jug of washer fluid and refill the reservoir at the next fuel stop.

Let's see, reservoir location is easily located, easy to pour into... but smallish. Took barely more than a quarter of a gallon. We had no space in the cabin to bring the rest of the bottle with us.

So I left the remaining (quite full) jug of fluid next to the tire fill pumps at the gas station. Enjoy your day, lucky next guy.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT10: Does My Asp Look Big?

July 21, 2010

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Huh. That's weird.In my mind, the first-gen Viper GTS coupes were always far sexier cars than the second-gen 2009 Dodge Viper like the orange leviathan in our fleet. The second-gen coupes, I recall thinking when they debuted, have too much S2000 influence and too few shapely curves.

Then I spotted this red first-gen Viper in the wild, and I was really taken aback by how much it has aged. Visually, it is far more dowdy than I remember. Frumpy, even.Amazing what time can do.

But that's just the back. From the front, the first-gen still makes an impact.

Or am I nuts? Talk to me -- which looks better, the old or the new?

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT10: Viperoadtrip Guess the Car? Game

July 16, 2010

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On the return trip in the 2009 Dodge Viper, we took some good roads off of I-70. I'll tell you more about that, but first, check out this beaut we found disintegrating at a Shell station in Hanksville, UT.

Know what make and model it is? The sexay beast on the right, I mean.

[Update: bobinsepa nailed this one -- it's a 1958 Borgward Goliath 1100 Kombi. It has a water-cooled 1100cc flat four hung over the front axle, like a Subaru. There's a transverse front leaf spring and what looks like a rear beam axle. Very packaging-efficient -- there's oodles of space under the hood and the cabin is quite roomy. The owner claims that with a new fuel pump and a battery that it runs just fine.]

Here'sa hint -- it's German, has a flat four, and is not the obvious choice.

I'll check back in the comments, and later, update the post with more info and pics. This thing is so freaking cool I can barely contain myself.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

Previous Viperoadtrip entries: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT10: Viperoadtrip At LeMons in BFE

July 16, 2010

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At our destination, the 24 Hours of LeMons raceat High Plains Raceway,located 20 miles outside of Byers, Colorado, the 2009 Dodge Viper collected dust while I turned my attention tothis heap:

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT10: Viperoadtrip Inevitability

July 16, 2010

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So, this was predictable.

We were traveling on I-70 east of Grand Junction, CO (surprisingly good eats at Naggy McGee's Irish Pub, by the way) at an easy cruise when we slooowly reeled in a box truck, the back of which was emblazoned with the words 'Highway Patrol'. The side logo read 'Hazardous Materials Removal Unit' or some such. Huh, never seen that before. We continued oozing past the truck at less than ten over the limit.

They're cops on a freeway, so we should guessed havethey were more interested in harvesting revenue than removing hazards.

According to the patrolman in the Charger you see above, the truck had radioed ahead to him while he was perched in the canyon several miles up the road in order to alert him to our presence. That's wherethe limit drops to 60 mph, and conveniently enough, officers heavily patrol this area for revenue collection your safety.

This one wrote us up for 73 in a 60.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor.

Previous Viperoadtrip entries: first, second, third, fourth, fifth

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT10: Viperoadtrip

July 14, 2010

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The silver lining to our longterm Ram's departure is that I'm off the hook in schleppingmy team's 24 Hours of LeMons car from race to race. And that includes last weekend's race in eastern Colorado.

Decision time: fly from LAX to Denver and back,or drive the 2,200 miles?

The correct decision was as obvious as a skin-tight, bright orange zoot suit.

In our current fleet, our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper iseasily the car most ill-suited for a trip like this. Which also makes it the best.

See,this wouldn't be the first time I decided to make a long trip more, uh, challenging, as a couple years ago I drove our longterm Audi R8 to Seattle and back to LA all within six days. Call it a degenerative condition.

This time, thetrip will take me and my teammate plus our racing gear from LAX, up through that hellhole Vegas, across Utah and into the wide open views of eastern Colorado. There, outside of Byers, CO, the 24 Hours of LeMons plagued the countryside. Keep your modems tuned to this URL.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 11,218 miles.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Our Favorite Caption

July 09, 2010

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Thanks to snipenet for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the others that made us smile:

Mike runs into Donna on her secret side job. (mcgs999)
The Viper gets pulled over by Adam & Eve-12. (ergsum)
Dodge puts the bailout behind them. (ergsum)
Cops hate finding Lipstick on their collar. (ergsum)
Felon and Louise (technetium99)
Kiss my gas (jeremiah4)
Pretty in Pink:Bad-ass in Orange (cello_one)
I said "Tail Him", not "Bail Him". (nullcode)
The Viper caught drag racing. (ergsum)
Radar Love (snipenet)
Get a Viper, snag a Bond Girl! (ergsum)
Is this some kind of bust? (ergsum)
Snake Charmer (alpine6speed)
Dragnet (ergsum)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: You Write the Caption

July 09, 2010

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Vehicle Testing Manager Mike Schmidt sent me this photo of the Viper parked near a pretty interesting vehicle.

I know you'll have fun with this one. What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: You Want to do What?

June 23, 2010

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Here isthe story. Thehatch struton our 2009 Dodge Viper fell out. So we ordered anew one. When parts arrived wemade an appointment to have it fixed. Simple, right?

Two and a half hours of sittingin the service department waiting room brought us to the magical moment,"Sir, they are pulling your car around now." Our advisor continued, "We can't fix it. There is no stud to attach the strut to. We think it fell inside the body panel. Our recommendation is to take it to our body shop. They can cut out a sectionjust big enough to fit a hand inside and retrieve the piece."

I gasped, "You want to do what?"

"If it's all the same to you," I toldour advisor, "I'd rathernot."And I left with no delay.

As it turns out, the vendorthatmanages Dodge pressvehicles (of which our Viper is one) resides justa mile fromGlenn E Thomas. So I stopped by to see our buddy, Carlos. He offered ahelping hand, the right tools for the job and most importantly, somebodywithwhom I could share thisridiculousdealer experience.

Now for the best part. It tookless than 15 minutesto fix the problem.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Sir Mix A Lot Likes Orange Stuff Too

June 21, 2010

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I like orange stuff and I can not lie

You other colors can't deny

That when a car rolls in with a flame-hot grace

A massive orange thing in your face

You get sprung, wanna pull out your...

Yea, well, you get the idea. More after the jump.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Road Trip Part IV: Pictures

June 18, 2010

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By now you've read Part 1, Part 2 andPart 3,so let's not ruin this with words.

More picsof our 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 on the California Coastafter the jump.

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Fantasy Shootout: Viper vs. ZR1

June 16, 2010

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On the left is our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper SRT10. On the right is a 2010 Chevy Corvette ZR1.

Two questions.

1) Which one would you buy?

2) Which one would you drive home tonight?

Me? Well, I'm a huuuuuuuuuuge Viper fan and I smile everytime I drive our Orange Beast, but I would buy the faster and more comfortable Vette and I would take it home tonight. In fact, I think I will.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Viper Visibility

June 16, 2010

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High-end performance coupes aren't known for their outward visibility, but in our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 it's actually pretty good.

With its large rear window, well-placed (and relatively large)exterior mirrors and effective rearview mirror our bright orange Dodge isn't just about being seen, but being able to see. Sure, the A-pillars are pretty thick and you sit low, so it's not exactly atop seat at The Hollywood Bowl, but considering the vehicle's outward proportions it could be much worse.

You still have to be prudent when parking, as it's impossible to tell where the Viper's front and rear ends really end. However, once you're rolling there's little apprehension, even while navigating tight morning rush-hour traffic (as seen above).

When I think of some other cars we've had (or have)in the fleet, including the Chevrolet Camaro, HondaCrosstour and Nissan 350Z, this thing feels downright "airy" inside.

Again, this is rare onmost high-end two-seaters with several hundred horsepower. If you've driven any exotic cars how did you find their visibility?

Karl Brauer, Editor at Large @ 10,103 miles

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Road Trip Part II: The Return

June 15, 2010

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We ended the first part of my 1,100 Mile Viper Trip somewhere in the upper-middle portion of California content and impressed with a dream drive up the coast.
This time, we're heading back to Los Angeles. But instead of another 12-hours of scenery, I decided to hop on I-5, hook up the radar detector and make a bee-line for home.Bad idea.

If RVs (and rental cars as eville_stu said) are the scourge of PCH, then truckers are the bane of my existence on the 5. Now, it's not that they're on the road that's the problem, it's a combination of their spacing and other drivers. Here's what happens: The trucks drive not in a tight caravan, but spaced almost exactly 1/4-mile apart for the entirety of the two-lane interstate. And that wouldn't be a problem if people would: a) pull over to let quicker traffic by or b) pass slower moving traffic-- who won't get out of the left lane -- on the right.

Neither of these things happen so you have one lane of trucks spaced pretty far apart, and one lane of cars going, give or take, 2 mph faster than the trucks. It's a nightmare.

Luckily(!) The Dodge Viper doesn't need a whole lot of room to make a pass. downshift anywhere between one and four gears depending on who you're passing, and that quarter-mile gap is more than enough to overtake...well...everyone.

So there's the power, that's nice. And the air conditioning is strong enough, even in 90+ degree heat to keep the cabin cold. And the cabin is quiet enough at 55 in sixth (it could've been first) to notice that there's some wind noise from the A-pillar. But once you hit 65, it's all down hill.

First is the tire noise. wwwwwwwrrrrrrrrrrrr. For hours. wrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Hours. Maybe if California used asphalt like a normal state instead of concrete it wouldn't be so bad, but they don't so it is. It kept my ears ringing for a few hours after the drive was over.

Next up on the complaint block is the engine noise at normal cruising speed. When the Viper is pushed or prodded on a windy road and the engine is kept above 3,000rpm, the V-10 sounds cool, like a factory that builds awesomeness. Below that, however and it's just a discordant vibrating/whirring/pulsing noise. It's not good.

Combine the lame engine note and the tire noise and you've got an acoustic mess that virtually cancels out the stereo. You can turn it up, but then you've got a third noise wreaking havoc on your ears instead of just two.

The final complaint is the range. I was really hoping that with tentative driving (ie: keeping the car in sixth/fifth instead of revving it out in first) I could manage a decent tank out of this thing. I couldn't. Resulting in a surprise warning alarm and this level of fuel.

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2009 Dodge Viper: 10,000 Mile Milestone

June 15, 2010

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Duringmy morning commute, our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper broke the 10,000 mile mark. Remember, it had already covered 5,500 miles by the time we took delivery of the V10 supercar back in April. Hopefully it'll hit 20,000 miles before we return it to Auburn Hills.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: 1,100 Miles in Two Days

June 14, 2010

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I don't know if you're aware of this or not, but California is huge. Huge. Especially if you're going in a North-South direction. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in an up-down way, California is the largest thing in The Universe. Look it up. It's true.

So when someone I know from the East Coast said, "Hey, we're attending a wedding in Central/Northern California(560 miles from my house-mm), you should come visit, we'll be in your neighborhood!" I said, "Yeah you will! I'll get the Viper and come see you guys."

It was then, three months before we actually had the Viper, that I put in my request.

My trip, I said, would take me up the famed Pacific Coast Highway from Ventura through San Simeon, through Big Sur-- through an Elephant Seal colony!-- to Santa Cruz. Look at that road on a map. With the exception of Big Sur, it's all on the coast. And with the exception of the times when 8.4-liter V10s go screaming through, it's a peaceful and serene getaway.

Thankfully, I showed up with a V10.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Rear Hatch Strut

June 06, 2010

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Last weekend Ed drove our2009 Dodge Viper to the superbike race in Utah. Yes, the trip with the umbrella girls. Somewhere between here and there, one end of the left-rear window strut popped out.

We took it to Glenn E Thomas Dodge in Long Beach for repair. "Let me see if we have the part in stock," our advisor began, "No reason you should leave it here if we can't fix it today." He returned a few minutes later, "Sorry, we don't have it.Unfortunately, neither do any of the dealersnearby. We need 5 working days to getone from the vendor. I'll call you when it arrives."

When we know more, you'll know more.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 8,777 miles

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2009 Dodge Viper: Making Time From SLC to LA

June 02, 2010

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After the WSBK race wrapped up at Miller Motorsports Park (poor Mr. Checa) I decided to head home by driving south from the track instead of taking the interstate route through Salt Lake City. Aside from refraining from jalapenos on my hot dogs, it was the best decision I made all weekend. More after the jump.

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2009 Dodge Viper: A Visit to Salt Lake City and WSBK

May 31, 2010

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After a full day at the wheel of the Viper on Sat., I arrived in Salt Lake City ready to take in the World Superbike race at the Miller Motorsports Park in nearby Tooele. As I noted before, Dodge was one of the title sponsors for the race, so it invited us out to see how it's trying to attract some new customers.

You've probably already seen the latest commercials, this is essentially another step in that direction. There were drift demonstrations in the parking lot, a full paddock area display and a couple of SRT-8 Challengers on the track as safety cars. Oh, and there was some motorcycle racing too. All good stuff, photographic evidence after the jump.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line

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2009 Dodge Viper: Not Such a Bad Road Trip Car

May 30, 2010

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When I got in the Viper to leave for Salt Lake City, it didn't feel like a great road trip car. A bit cramped, hard to see out of and most definitely loud, the Viper seemed like it would be one of those cars I looked forward to driving and then loathed a few hundred miles in.

Actually, it's not that bad. After a few hours behind the wheel, I got used to its tight cockpit and limited sight lines. It helps that the seat is comfortable and the satellite radio was hooked up. Sure, the thing has 600 horsepower, but when you're on the open road it's not exactly wide open throttle the whole time.

Oh yeah, the thing is bright orange too, so any attempt to blend in isn't really going to work. Figured that out when a highway patrol car blew by on the other side of the highway and then spun around, crossed the median and then tailed me for 20 miles or so. Felt much better when a guy in an SRT Challenger followed me to a gas station just to say hello. You meet the nicest people in a Viper.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line

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2009 Dodge Viper: WSBK in the SRT

May 28, 2010

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For the uninitiated, WSBK is shorthand for the World Superbike Championship, a top-tier motorcycle series that's making its way to Miller Motorsports Park in Utah this weekend. Dodge is sponsoring the race so they offered to save us a spot in the parking lot as long as we park our long-term Viper in it.

No problem, it's only 700 miles from Santa Monica to Salt Lake and I have our trusty radar detector all packed up and ready to go. Given the fact that it's Memorial Day weekend, I might put the Viper on cruise control and not even deal with the hassle of trying to make time. After all, an orange Viper doesn't exactly blend in very well in the middle of the desert. Wish me luck, I'm going to need it.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 7,132 miles

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2009 Dodge Viper: Warning! Lawyers Ahead.

May 18, 2010

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I wonder if 427 Shelby Cobras had warning stickers like this one back in the 1960's. Doubt it. You gotta love the lawyers.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2009 Dodge Viper Goes to the Big A

May 17, 2010

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I putabout 170miles on our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper over the weekend. The highlight of the weekend was a trip to Anaheim for Saturday's Angels/A's game where Kendry Morales hit two homers, andwhere the Viper was the second-most expensive car in the lot. Top honors went to a Bentley Continental GT.

The parking spaces were roomy enough and the crowd friendly enough that I didn't worry about leaving the Viper in the lot for 3 hours. There was only one instance of anti-Viper activity at the end of the night when a passerby shouted "It's an automatic!" to no one in particular. I watched as he proceeded onto his Honda Civic and wondered briefly whether he'd strain a calf muscle working the clutch of the Viper's heavy-dutyTremec gearbox.

I've managed to stay off the DL in that regard, but we did hit heavy traffic going to and from the game. And after a time, I did begin to tire of the car's wildly offset driving position that has you swiveling your hips and legs to the left while your arms reach right for the steering wheel. Also, the automated 1-4 upshift is tough to overcome in low-speed traffic, and the vast difference in gear ratio (2.66 vs. 1.00) has the engine lugging almost every time.

I still haven't tired of the loud loud loud V10, though, and the exhaust pops on downshifts inspire plenty of gratuitous heel-and-toeing. And considering the Viper is a toy car and comically large tires, the ride quality isn't half bad.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 6,933 miles

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Parked Out Front in Beverly Hills

May 14, 2010

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Last night I thundered into Beverly Hills with our 2009 Dodge Viper. There was a bunch of traffic on the drive there, but I didn't feel grumpy. Sure, clutch effort is on the heavy side, but I knew that going in, andwith a good portion ofthe 8.4-liter V10's 560 pound-feet of torque (at 5,000) working on my behalf, scooting along in traffic was easy, loud and satisfying.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Let's See the Engine

May 12, 2010

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I pulled up to my buddy's house in our2009 Dodge Viper the other day. "Oh, man," he said, "This thing is awesome. The hood is gigantic. Let's see the engine." I fumbled around in the cabin for a couple of minutes looking for the hood release before I remembered.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Side Pipes Still Rock!

May 06, 2010

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Last week I was fortunate enough to get a close-up look at a Marina Blue1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible. It was aclean,unmodified car with two NCRS Top Flight awards under its belt. Oh yeah, did I mention it was also an original427 car, complete with shiny side pipes that made it look (and sound) bothsexy and sinisterat the same time?

Last night I was looking at our new Long-Term DodgeViper SRT-10 and, yet again, found myself drawnto the side pipe design that helpsput the "bad" in this bad boy. There's something about a car that doesn't try to shuttlethe exhausttone under the rear bumper, but insteadjust spits it out right under the driver'swindow.That something would be spelled C-O-O-L

It's like the car is saying, "Hey buddy, there's a whole lot going on after thecombustion portion ofthis 600-horsepower V10engine, anddon't you forget it!"

Wouldn't think of it, Mr. Viper.

Karl Brauer, Editor at Large

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2009 Dodge Viper: Put Down The Potato Salad, Let's Do Some Burnouts

May 05, 2010

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The first time I laid eyes on ourlong-term 2009 Dodge Viper, it was sitting under a tent, on carpet, surrounded by tables and chairs in the Dodge SRT owners hospitality area at the Long Beach Grand Prix.

I was told I could take the car home at the end of the day to begin our long-term test, but not before.

So for five hours I watched racing, ate the free food, mingled with Ralph Gilles the President and CEO of Dodge and got to know some of the SRT owners in attendance. Great people. Real car people. My kind of people.

And they all brought their cars. Challengers. Magnums. Chargers. And yes, Vipers. Both first and second generation Vipers. One guy even did big clutch-dump burnout when he left the party. Ralph just laughed and said, "They do that."

Gilles isreally getting to know his Dodge loyalists since taking the CEO job only months ago and to watch him interact with them is to see it done right. Ralphgenuinely likes and respects this crowd. (As he should, he's one of them. In his garage is a black Viper ACR.) He listens to their stories. Asks about their Dodges, both new and old. And he signs their t-shirts like any other celebrity.

As promised, when the party was over and the last race was run, the Viper keys were mine and our long-term test had begun. The car already had 5,000+ miles on it but Dodge was nice enough to throw on a new set of tires for us.We don't expect them to last long.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: "Is that the new Viper?"

May 04, 2010

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I was dead tired after the marathon photo shoot we did for the intro. I had packed the gear away into the trunk and I was set to make the 45 minute drive back to office. I hit the start button, the gorgeous sound of the engine filled the air and I checked my side view mirror to see if it was safe to pull out into the lane.

Right there was a dude on a bike just about to knock on my window. "Hey! Is that the new Viper?" he asked as I rolled down the window. "Yeah, this is the Swan Song of this beauty" I replied.

We chatted for a few minutes about the car. Since I was so tired I apologized and told him I had to get going. "Yeah, sure. Lemme hear her!" was his last request as I hit the engine hard, pitching out the butt a bit and screaming down the street, leaving Lance in a cloud of dust and smoke. I could barely make him out in my rear view mirror, fist pumping in joy.

Right there with you brother. This thing is BAD ASS.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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