Every Corvette fan knows the Viper exists. And most of them loathe it, and for good reason, back when it started production in 1991, it had a relatively small 400 horsepower for its massive 8.0-liter V10, but with no airbags, no traction control, power steering, or exterior door handles, which I’ll get to. The first generation Viper was only available as a roadster with no roof, just a canvas soft roof, so there was no need for exterior door handles, one could just reach over the window and get in. The second-gen Viper was released in 1996, moving the exhaust pipes to the side of the car, a feature that would remain in all Vipers thereafter, horsepower was upped to 415 and a hardtop was offered with a sliding glass window. Later in 1996, the hardtop was given a double bubble roof so it could fit in helmets for the track in the new GTS. The GTS package also gave power lock, power windows, and air conditionin. In ‘97, 15 more horsepower was added, and so were airbags and power windows on the standard Viper. In 1999, the all new ACR Package became available. It added BBS rims, five-point harnesses, adjustable suspension and removed the radio and the air conditioning. In 2001 Vipers got anti-lock braking, the final update for this generation. The Final Edition was released in 2002 painted in red and white stripes.
Moving on to the third-gen Viper, the SRT-10 replaced both the GTS and RT/10 with the engine increased to 8.3-liters and 500 horsepower.
The third generation was the first major refresh for the Viper, bringing new styling but keeping the double bubble roof and kept the old GTS tail lights.
The fourth generation was revealed in 2008, bringing a new engine cover and 600 horsepower from its new 8.4L V10. This generation Viper had assistance from McLaren Automotive, that’s right, the creators of the F1 and many other mid-engined super cars developed the Dodge Viper. This gen Viper was released right when Chevrolet unveiled the ZR-1 Corvette. The exhaust was also redone to reduce heat in the cockpit.
Finally, the last Viper ever. The V10 was brought all the way up to 640 horsepower with the later ACR bringing 645, making it the most powerful Viper ever. This generation has low sales for its first three year, probably leading to its demise in 2018. It’s top speed was 208 for the Viper GTS, for comparison, a brand new Lamborghini Huracan only hits 203. Showing how much of a beast the Viper really is.
But is it still the king? Yes, even after production ended in 2018, most Vipers can easily take on any Corvette, and it’s more raw than anything else in its league.