Premium sporty/performance car; Built in USA
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door coupe
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $9,000 – $28,000*


1992 Dodge Viper RT/10


1992 Dodge Viper RT/10


1993 Dodge Viper RT/10 interior


1995 Dodge Viper RT/10


1998 Dodge Viper RT/10


1999 Dodge Viper GTS

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Lack of antilock brakes
  • Lack of airbag (early models)
  • Fuel economy
  • Noise

Each year, Dodge has built just enough Vipers to keep demand ahead of supply, selling them with little discounting. Some of the early crudities were improved over the years, but Viper remains a back-to-basics, less-than-civilized machine. If you’re a likely prospect for a secondhand model, you probably know it already. Better make sure that checkbook is full, though, as Vipers have held their value pretty well over the years.

Overview

After appearing at auto shows as a concept vehicle, Dodge’s rear-drive roadster hit dealer showrooms early in the summer of 1991. Only 200 cars were available in that short season, and some sold at far above the $50,000 sticker price. Choices were few in this high-performance rear-drive two-seat sports car, powered by an 8.0-liter V10 engine–America’s biggest and most powerful production engine, delivering 400 horsepower. Only a 6-speed manual gearbox could be installed, and it incorporated a forced first-to-fourth gear shift when starting off at light throttle. Exposed exhaust pipes ran along the rocker panels, adding to the Viper’s no-holds-barred appearance. Body panels were made of fiberglass-like composite materials, bonded and bolted to a tubular steel frame. Antilock braking and a driver-side airbag were unavailable. Red was the only available body color at first, and Vipers did not even have exterior door handles or roll-up windows. Standard equipment included an FM/AM stereo with cassette player and leather upholstery. Viper met the requirement for passive restraints with door-mounted seatbelts that could be left buckled. Nothing was really like a Viper, but rivals have included the Acura NSX, Chevrolet Corvette, Mitsubishi 3000 GT, and Porsche 911.

Yearly Updates

1993 Viper
Vipers were supposed to come in several new colors in 1993, but only black actually appeared. Otherwise, no changes were evident. Chrysler Corporation planned to build 3000 Vipers this season, but quality problems with the hood slowed production to about half that total.
1994 Viper
Air conditioning with CFC-free refrigerant could be factory-installed this year. Previously, air was a dealer-installed option only. A new electronic mechanism for the transmission prevented shifting into reverse gear when the car was moving forward. The shift pattern put reverse just to the right of fifth gear. Emerald green and yellow joined the body-color selection, and a new black-and-tan interior could be ordered (with emerald green exterior).
1995 Viper
No changes were evident for 1995. Air conditioning remained the only factory option.
1996 Viper
Viper’s previously exposed exhaust pipes now were enclosed. Routed through a single muffler at the rear, the exhaust system used two central tail pipes. Dodge claimed this reduced back pressure, boosting horsepower to 415 and torque to 488 pound-feet. Three color schemes were available this year, and only 500 roadsters were to be built before production moved to a new plant. A removable hardtop was a new option. Vipers also got new side curtains with sliding glass windows to replace the former zippered plastic curtain. Restyled wheels wore Michelin MXX3 tires. In spring of 1996, a GTS coupe joined the original RT/10 roadster. The GTS was equipped with dual airbags, new seats with integrated safety belts, power windows, electronic door latching with an anti-theft system, adjustable pedals, 6-speaker CD system–and a new powerful (450-horsepower) engine.
1997 Viper
Production of the new GTS coupe continued, and the roadster reemerged after a short delay, incorporating most of the coupe’s new features. Those included dual airbags and the 450-horsepower engine.
1998 Viper
A cutoff switch was added for the passenger-side airbag this year, and the exhaust system now was constructed of lighter-weight materials. Metallic silver was a new exterior color.
1999 Viper
New standard equipment included 18-inch wheels (formerly 17-inch), power mirrors, aluminum-finished interior accents, and a new gearshift knob. The GTS coupe got a remote hatch release, and Connolly leather was a new option. Black was a new body-color choice for the GTS.
2000 Viper
Except for silver as a new body color, nothing was new for 2000.
2001 Viper
Viper got standard antilock brakes and added two new exterior colors for 2001.
2002 Viper
An optional Final Edition Group was added midyear, shortly after the previously optional lift-off hardtop became standard on the RT/10 convertible; otherwise, available graphite metallic paint was the only change of note as Dodge’s high-performance 2-seater entered its final model year in its current design.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

No decisions were needed when selecting a Viper powertrain. Every one came with a high-powered V10 engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. No automatic ever was offered. The V10 started with 400 horsepower and 462 pound-feet of torque, growing to 450 horsepower and 500 pound-feet during 1996 when the GTS coupe debuted. Torque output dipped from 500 to 490 pound-feet in 1998.

ohv V10
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 8.0/488
Engine HP 400-450
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 462-500
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual

12/21

14.1

Road Test

Let’s get one thing straight at the outset: Few cars could be less practical than a Viper for everyday driving. Needless to say, it’s not for everyone. Its purpose was simple: to remind people of the Shelby Cobra of the 1960s, and to stir up some showroom excitement.

With that disclaimer out of the way, Viper quite simply defines brutal performance. Dodge’s two-seater ranks among the fastest and best-handling cars available, bar none. Armed with colossal torque, a Viper catapults ahead from any speed with little regard for what gear it happens to be in. Clutch effort isn’t unduly heavy, and shift action is quick and direct.

Ultra-wide tires trammel along pavement grooves, but they also furnish astonishing grip in turns. They work with a suspension that virtually eliminates body lean in corners or floatiness over highway dips. Though the ride gets stiff over low-speed bumps, it isn’t really harsh. Steering response is immediate and the big 4-wheel disc brakes are extraordinarily strong.

On the other hand, this is an extremely noisy car. Big exhaust pipes on early models exit just below your elbow, and wind buffeting at highway speeds with the top off is intense. Tiring to drive, a Viper also offers minimal luggage space and dismal fuel economy–affirmed by the fact that they’ve been subject to the federal gas guzzler tax.

Erecting the removable fabric top on an early model was no easy chore, and snapping on side curtains as the weather turned inclement could be a pain. The folding top also takes up much of the Viper’s small trunk, and interior stowage space is minimal.

Visibility is less than ideal, due to the low seating position, but mirrors are nicely-placed. Seats are supportive, analog gauges are simple, and the dashboard layout is elemental. Shoulder room is abundant, but footwells are narrow. Worse yet, engine heat turns them into veritable ovens on early models (air conditioning was an option in the early years, not standard fare). A sticker warned occupants to avoid contact with door sills because the side exhaust pipes heat them up so much.

Viper’s steel skeleton is extremely rigid, so the car does not suffer the structural flexing over pavement irregularities that plagues so many convertibles. Still, the huge hood shudders over bumps and the plastic panels behind the cabin squeak.

Driving feel is the big difference between the roadster and the GTS coupe. While the roadster has the feel of a kit car, with body panels shaking and quivering over bumps, the coupe is as solid as most production cars. This solid sensation produces more confidence to enjoy the Viper’s raw power. Though still loud during acceleration, the V10 was quieter at highway speeds in the coupe. Tire noise remained a problem, but less so than in the roadster, making long highway trips less punishing.

Because Vipers are virtually hand-built, fit, finish, and workmanship tend to vary. Interior materials are solid but not fancy.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2002 Dodge Viper RT/10

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 10
100%
Fuel Economy - 2
20%
Ride Quality - 2
20%
Steering/Handling - 8
80%
Quietness - 1
10%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 3
30%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 0
00%
Cargo Room - 1
10%

Other

Value - 1
10%

Total: 32

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
96.2 175.1 75.7 44.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
6.8 19.0 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.8 42.6
2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
96.2 176.7 75.7 47.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
9.1 19.0 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.8 42.6
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Oil leak
Description: Some oil pans have hairline cracks. This leads to oil seepage. (1997)
Transmission noise
Description: Missing shim between the transmission and crossmember can cause a clunk in the driveline. (1992-95)
Water leak
Description: Water leaks between the top and side curtains which is corrected with a kit including new side rails and seals. (1992-95)
Speedometer
Description: The speedometer and odometer quit working intermittently caused by chafed speed sensor wires. (1995)
Windshield
Description: Installing revised latch handles may be necessary to prevent water from leaking in between the windshield and the soft top. (1993-95)

Recall History

1996-00
Description: If used in extensive track type testing or aggressive driving, steering rack mounting brackets can crack.
1996-99
Description: If used in extensive track type testing or aggressive driving, differential mounting brackets could fail.
1997
Description: Inadvertent airbag deployment could occur upon vehicle ignition shut-down.
2000-01
Description: Some of the owner’s manuals for these vehicles are missing instructions for properly attaching a child restraint system’s tether strap to the tether anchorage.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.