Classic Cool: 1992-'95 Dodge Viper RT/10

V8 engine? That’s cute. How about a V10? And side pipes. And none of that modern frivolity like ABS. Or air bags. Or air conditioning. Or even roll-up windows. 

Wait, are we talking about the ’60s? Not quite. The year was 1991, and Dodge unleashed a quintessential throwback machine. The Dodge Viper RT/10 brought show car excess to the local dealerships. It was big and brutal. It recalled the original Cobra, both in stomping power and minimalist accouterments. Could it smoke some tires? Oh yes. 

That long, long hood covered up an 8-liter V10. For the non-metric types, that’s 488 cubic inches—or as much displacement as five early Miatas. 

The bottom end came from Dodge’s truck line, but Lamborghini helped with the cylinder head work. The Viper offered 400 horsepower, an impressive figure from a time when 300ZXs and Corvettes made do with about 300. Then there was the Viper’s torque: about 450 lb.-ft. at first. One transmission was offered, and it featured six forward speeds that had to be shifted manually. With a clutch pedal. 

The Viper didn’t saddle that power with many extras. It didn’t even have a dead pedal.

Despite its throwback nature, the Viper arrived with much fanfare. It paced the 1991 Indy 500. It landed on all of the magazine covers. It helped usher in a new wave of performance.

Dodge built only 285 Vipers for 1992, the first model year of production. They were all classic red over gray. That original Viper ran through 1995, however, with production figures increasing—and with a/c, a hardtop and other colors eventually becoming available.

All these years later, an early Viper isn’t exactly a premium purchase, meaning you can relive the days of “Lethal Weapon 3” and “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid” for the price of a mid-level minivan. While Hagerty says that the best of the best is worth a tick north of $65,000, good examples of those first Vipers can be found in the mid-$20,000s.

Today, a legit Cobra costs about a million bucks. At one point, though, that wasn’t the case. Don’t miss out again.

Practical Guidance

Our Expert:

Bernie Katz
BJ Motors, LLC
bjmotors.biz

With the Dodge Viper out of production in August 2017—and as with any of the older Mopars—the cars will retain a higher premium if they’re all-original or factory-modified instead of having dealer-additional packages or performance modifications. 

Drivers with good mileage and good history are ranging in the mid-$30s to upper $50s depending on year, mileage, ownership and history. Drivers with high miles are going to sell for less. 

Find a car with good history that’s been checked by someone who knows the cars, and owning it will bring a lifetime of happiness.

We always check service history, as first-gen Vipers were known for head gasket issues. Also, look out for cars with accident history. 

Parts are becoming harder and harder to find as well as more expensive. Make sure you buy a car that’s been maintained

and serviced.

Maintenance is relatively low compared to other brands. Keep up with oil and filter and fluids, and cars will stay otherwise maintenance-free for a long time.

Make sure you work with a reputable dealer that has taken the time to evaluate known issues with cars for resale. Enjoy the Viper, as it’s raw, unfiltered and amazing as a true driver’s car.

The first-gen cars are having the same types of issues as most cars: dashes aging and discoloring, tires out of manufacture date code. How bad it is depends on how the car has been taken care of its entire life.

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Comments
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93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo SuperDork
11/6/20 12:16 p.m.

Drove my 1995 to work today!  Its great.  See my thread on it, nothing in the price range gets near the amount of thumbs up or smiles.  

 

One thing:  Only common parts between the trucks and the cars are the oil pan bolts, everything else is either car specific or truck specific.  Its a common misconception that the cars have a truck motor or the trucks have a car motor, but the only case where that applies is the SRT Rams, and even thoughs have some pretty decent differences between the car applications and the truck applications.  

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