Updated: Jul 6, 2021
This car makes 1600 horsepower. Let me say that again for you, one-thousand-six-hundred horsepower. Unbelievable right? Yeah, we know. So how did this chance encounter with the most powerful car I've ever been in come to pass? It was far from planned, that’s for sure. A simple dinner with family and friends one gorgeous evening lead to this amazing opportunity.
As conversation topics came and went around the table, cars (of course) came up. After I had mentioned my love for the iconic Dodge Viper, someone said, “Our neighbor has a Viper. Let me call him and see if he’ll take you for a ride.” We sat at the table waiting for the news. Less than five minutes later, “He will be here in a few.” As some time passed and we finished our dinner, I walked around to the front of the house, and there it was in all its stunning glory. The owner, who we’ll refer to as Mr. Gast, stepped out of his red 1998 Dodge Viper GTS and walked over to greet me. I was speechless as he asked the question I eagerly anticipated, “Wanna take it for a spin?” After stumbling across my words for a few minutes, I delightfully accepted his offer, completely clueless as to what I would soon learn about this vehicle.
Having walked around the back of the car, I noticed a few small things, like the cover of a magazine displaying this car along with a small show poster displaying some lofty numbers. Both of these interesting artifacts positioned in the rear window with care. I jumped into the passenger seat, put on my seatbelt from the LEFT side because these cars have centrally mounted seatbelts, and got myself ready. But a few more things caught my eye. An orange shift light sat between the gauges, and a red switch sat on a control panel in the center stack. I looked at Mr. Gast and asked him, “Is this thing stock?” with a quick and firm, "NO" as a reply, I inquired about what was done to the car.
To paraphrase Mr. Gast, this is a 1998 Dodge Viper GTS with a fully built 8.0-Liter V10 with two hidden turbos installed by Heffner Performance. That red switch in the center? Although I wasn’t told its purpose by the owner, some quick research tells me that it changes the engine map and boost pressure depending on your mood, or of course whoever is lined up next to you at a stoplight.
The car was built-out in the early 2000s, and although I can’t be sure if Mr. Gast was the first or second owner of the car, I can still say he’s had it for a very long time. From the owner: “I had this car slightly modified before I sent it down to Florida for a few months to have these turbos installed. It’s an 8-second car on these semi-slick tires I have on it here.”
Mr. Gast primed the fuel pump and fired the 1600 horsepower V10 into life with a low grumble. We set out on our drive and I quickly figured out that this car’s most shocking trait isn’t its high power numbers, but it is that this car looks and sounds like a normal stock Viper. We cruised around, not deafened or uncomfortable by any means, just taking in the pure enjoyment of this machine.
As most of you might know, the interior on the Dodge Viper is certainly not its most desirable characteristic. Everything you see and touch is basically plastic, given the (maybe?) leather steering wheel and seats of course.
But here’s the part you’ve all been waiting for, how does it feel to floor it in a car with one thousand six hundred horsepower?
There is no single adjective that can describe the way this car turns power into forward motion. This car went from 25 miles per hour to a triple-digit speed (that I won’t disclose), faster than anything else I have ever experienced. A pilot on top of a rocket maybe feels the same things as they blast-off into space.
That's about as close as I can come to a comparison for what it was like. There will be a video posted on our Instagram @superfastcarnews that tries to convey the speed and acceleration of this monster. My camera tries hard to focus on something, but because the car is moving so quickly it fails to do so!
Although it’s possible I may never see this car or others like it ever again, I truly appreciated every second I spent basking in its all-powerful glory.
I'd like to mention, respectfully of course, Mr. Gast is a distinguished 71 years old and, even though the span between our ages is closer to the rear track width (in inches) of the car, the smiles on our faces as we were pushed back into the seats made it hard to tell who was more senior participant in this experience. I guess that is part of why we love these machines. There are moments when where you come from, how you got there, or even your age all fade away.
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