Spannerhead Dot

The Best Snake:
2nd-Gen Dodge Viper GTS

September 18, 2014 by Matt

Dodge Viper GTS Gray Grey

I’m not a Dodge Viper fan per se, but I have to concede that this is one of the most impressive American cars ever made.

Credit the automaker for not saying “Well, that was fun while it lasted” and closing up the Viper shop after the initial 1992-1995 run of crude 1st-generation cars. The automotive world is replete with flawed attempts by new players to mix it up with established heavy-hitters like the Porsche 911 and Corvette. In most cases, those efforts flicker out within a few years—but not the Viper. Dodge realized the formula had merit and there was room in the marketplace for more than one “authentic” American sports car, and injected development capital into the program, resulting in a 2nd generation car that was just as brash as the original, but less intimidating to drive, and much more progressive and capable.

Dodge Viper GTS Gray Grey

The characteristic 8-liter pushrod V10’s output was bumped up from 415 to 450 hp while the car’s weight actually fell by 60 lbs compared to the 1st gen Viper. Thanks in part to the addition of the roof, the car’s rigidity increased significantly, which allowed the thoroughly reworked suspension to interface with the road with far more fidelity than that of the ’92-’95 car. So while the 2nd gen Viper was still rough around the edges, rewards existed for those willing to contend with its challenges. In a track setting, a contemporary Car and Driver comparison test extolled the GTS as an “an easy and forgiving partner” and for its “benign behavior at the limit,” things that would never have been said of its predecessor.

Dodge Viper GTS Gray Grey

Still, it’s cartoonish to look at. Exaggerated, dramatic, visually aggressive—and yet somehow, it all holds together perfectly. I could even call it pretty, if I were into that sort of thing. I much prefer the later, solid-color 2nd-gen cars; the racing stripes are iconic but load the already-busy lines with even more clutter. Less turns out to be just right in this case. An indication of just how enduring the GTS’s look turned out to be is the design of the latest, 5th-generation car, which copies the 1996-2002 car almost line-for-line, except for a little ill-advised softening (read: melting) around the edges. With the original GTS, I really think Dodge got it right the first time.

Image credits:

Filed under: Dodge


  1. Ryan says:

    The Viper GTS is one of my all time favorite exterior-designs on a vehicle ever. The proportions, the lines, and all those other little details that you know how to verbally communicate and I do not, lol. And while many of the reviews over the years have said the driving experience is too raw at times, I do not care. It is still a vehicle I honestly hope to own one day. Preferably with a supercharger or a pair of turbos of course. :)

  2. Ryan says:

    Thanks for the link Matt, I surprisingly had not seen that comparison yet. Bottom line… I would happily drive either! :)

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