2015 Dodge Viper GT: Finally Scratching that Itch
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on November 23, 2015
I'll admit I was a bit apprehensive when I finally pocketed the keys to our 2015 Dodge Viper for an entire weekend.
The Viper's reputation is not something to scoff at and Vehicle Testing Manager Mike Schmidt warned me that the tires, the same ones that the car arrived on 14,000 miles ago, were nearing the end of their life. I assured him that I would bring both myself and the car back to the office safe and sound on Monday morning.
I'd been itching to drive the Viper for months. It arrived when I was still an intern and I've been pining over its GTS-R Blue Pearl painted body ever since.
Taking it for a weekend meant only using a percentage of what this vehicle is truly capable of. Even experienced drivers on a racetrack admit that the Viper demands respect and a bit of time to settle in. I was simply planning on driving around Los Angeles and up the coast a bit.
Reaching the limits of this car on a public road would quickly lead to trouble.
I'm not just talking about speeding tickets. This is a car that builds speed so quickly that you become a rolling hazard to yourself and other drivers. I'm not going to be the one that gives our car the salvage title reputation.
Three days in the Viper helped me quickly get over my initial apprehension. Sure, all the complaints about the visibility, seat comfort and loud, ugly-sounding exhaust are completely valid. But by Monday morning, I was still looking forward to getting behind the wheel, even knowing I was about to sit through an hour-and-a-half of traffic.
I didn't hate myself for grabbing the keys and, more importantly, my girlfriend was still speaking to me after spending her entire Saturday strapped into the passenger seat.
The Viper has loads of personality. Only a weekend in our former long-term 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray beckoned more people over, whether asking for photos or just a few questions. I'm going to chalk it up to side-exit exhaust.
Yes the steering is heavy and yes it's hard to see out of, but after a little bit behind the wheel you settle in and get used to it. Just tip into the throttle a little and you'll understand why a naturally-aspirated V10 pushing out 645 horsepower is so special. It makes you forget all of the flaws. The Viper is theater. Nothing else in our fleet is as dramatic, except for maybe our 1989 Yugo GVL.
I finally understand why someone would drop their hard-earned money on a Viper. It's not a Corvette, a 911 or an F-Type. The Viper offers something different. You buy a Viper for something distinctly and wonderfully American. You buy a Viper for performance above all else.
Mike told me that the first weekend is always the best. It's not until the second or third time you take it home that the flaws really start to bring down the experience. Well, if no one else wants the keys, please hand them to me.
Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 14,014 miles.