Used 1996 Dodge Viper Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

Final year for Viper in current form. More power is offered from the V10 engine via a low-restriction rear outlet exhaust system, and an optional hardtop with sliding side curtains is available. Five-spoke aluminum wheels and three exterior styling themes replace the trim on the 1995 Viper. GTS coupe begins production when convertibles have completed their run. The GTS arrives with dual airbags and air conditioning.

Vehicle overview

The Viper has been the biggest automotive performance news since the original Mustang, and while its sales totals have been nowhere near those of the legendary ponycar, it has just as many devotees drooling over full-color pictures of its cartoonish structure like winos at a peepshow.

Designed to be the modern incarnation of the Cobra 427, 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 after. 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. It even got a TV show; a dismal one that lasted one season.

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. Originally, the car was available only in red, but black, green and yellow were added as color choices. This year, the RT/10 is painted one of three shades with colorful Hot Wheels graphics slapped on.

Once roadster production ends, Dodge will bring out the GTS coupe, which belts out 450 horsepower. The 8.0-liter V10 has been substantially reworked, featuring a new block, new heads, shorter cooling jackets, and revised sump. Overall, the new motor is 85 pounds lighter than the one in the RT/10. Inside, revised gauges and dual airbags greet serious drivers, who have to option of adjusting pedal height. Production starts in April.

Next year's RT/10 will benefit from many of the changes incorporated into the GTS. Truly, Chrysler Corporation has created an American icon that rivals Corvette's lock on the "America's Sports Car" title.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.