1996 Dodge Viper GTS
It should come as no surprise that the concept of “a modern Shelby Cobra” came from none other than Chrysler President Bob Lutz. He transmitted that idea directly to VP of Design Tom Gale, who triggered work at Chrysler’s Design Center. The result was the Viper concept, which was first shown at the 1999 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. After a rousing response, chief engineer Roy Sjoberg was put to work on the project of bringing the Viper to production.
The heart of the car was an aluminum version of the company’s truck V-10, which would power all production Vipers. Turn-around on the project was so rapid that shipments to dealers began in January 1992. Dubbed Viper RT/10, the car was big, brash, low on creature comforts, and very fast. In a return to the past, the top was canvass, there were no exterior door handles, and additional weather protection was provided by removable side screens. The fiberglass roadster would catapult from 0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds, accompanied by the unusual sound of a big V-10 engine.
For 1996, the car received a mild revision and power increased from 400 to 415 bhp and certain steel suspension components were replaced with aluminum parts. The roadster could now be ordered with a fiberglass hardtop with sliding glass side screens. Later the same year, the stunning GTS coupe joined the Viper family, although a concept/prototype had been displayed as early as August 1993 in the production color scheme of Viper Blue with white stripes. The new car was truly highlighted in May 1996 when it was selected to pace the Indy 500.
The Viper GTS may feature leather seats and improved aerodynamics, but like the RT/10 roadster, the car is still a brute, with heavy steering, brakes, and gearbox.
With only 23,000 miles showing on the odometer, this blue and white Viper is believed to be all original. Look at it and drive it, and it’s hard to find a high-performance car that is more uniquely American, right down to the extremely high content of American-made parts.