Used 1999 Dodge Viper Review
Edmunds expert review
What's new for 1999
The Viper has been the biggest thing in automotive performance news since the original Mustang, and while its sales totals are 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 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 managed to flip his onto its roof. The Viper even got a TV show: a dismal one that lasted one season at a major network 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, white, yellow, silver and blue have been available in the past. For 1999, black is back as a color option.
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, but ABS and traction control are not available. The interior is dominated by cheap-feeling plastic, and the seats are virtually non-adjustable. Getting into the car requires a waiver from a chiropractor, and getting out often results in singed legs due to exhaust pipes integrated along the car's lower flanks.
Despite its obvious ergonomic shortcomings, the Viper is chock-full of character. Truly, Chrysler Corporation has created an American icon that rivals Corvette's lock on the America's Sports Car title. If only it were less expensive, more ergonomic, and more technologically savvy, the Viper would be a contender.
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.