Used 1997 Dodge Viper Review
Edmunds expert review
What's new for 1997
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, 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 and Kelsey Grammer, who managed to flip his over on a street in Agoura Hills, Calif., last year. It even got a TV show; a dismal one that lasted one season on major networks and survives in syndication.
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. Last year, the RT/10 was painted one of three shades with colorful Hot Wheels graphics slapped on.
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 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. Inside the GTS, analog gauges and dual airbags greet serious drivers, who have the option of adjusting pedal height. Power windows and door locks are standard on the GTS.
For 1997, one new color (flame red with or without white stripes) is available on the GTS. Silver, sparkle gold, or yellow gold wheels come with red GTS Vipers. The original blue-with-white-stripes paint scheme is available as an option, as are last year's standard polished aluminum wheels. The RT/10 roadster is set to return later this year, with dual airbags, power windows and door locks, and the fresh 450-horsepower V10. Also set to debut on the revamped drop top are the four-wheel independent suspension and adjustable pedals from 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.