What's It Like to Drive a Supercar Every Day?


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photos by jg pasterjak and tom suddard

First, a ground rule: We’re going to do our best to get through this entire story about a shiny, bright-red Dodge Viper GTS without a single use of the word “douchebag.” Starting now.

In fact, we recommend abandoning all your negative beliefs about Viper ownership immediately. While there may be some truth to the stereotypes, for the purposes of this exercise let’s pretend we’re all objective, levelheaded grown-ups.

We wanted to know if you could drive a supercar every day. Simple premise, right? After all, cars have gotten exponentially better over the years, with more reliable systems that constantly massage the experience to make it accessible for everyone. So we rounded up the most exotic hardware we could find in the press pool–a screaming-red, 640-horsepower, six-speed, 8.4-liter 2014 Dodge Viper SRT–and unleashed it on a week of mundane tasks.

Life Far From the Edge

First disclaimer: This is not a track test of the Dodge Viper. And before you scream at us that we’ve wussed out, please open the February 2014 edition of GRM for a complete track review of this car. No, this is about real life, and real life rarely visits the race track. Real life is full of trips to the grocery store, humdrum errands, drive-thru windows, high curbs and low-attention-span drivers. Taking a Viper to a race track is easy. We know it excels between the apexes and the braking points. But how would it do between the Applebee’s and the Barnes & Noble?

Acquisition

For us, acquiring a Viper was easy. Well, relatively speaking. Press fleets usually have lots more Grand Caravans than exotic sports cars, so scheduling a week with a Viper involved some extra complexity. And when a journalist borrowing the car before us had a run-in with a curb–perhaps a testament to the fact that self-restraint is one of the most important requirements of supercar stewardship– our weeklong slot got pushed back while a new wheel was sourced.

But once it showed, the handover was barely more ceremonious than if it had been a Camry or Accord. The drop-off happened at our home instead of at the office, sure, but everything else was standard. Keys, signature, quick rundown of a few buttons, and “Have a nice day, sir.”

Once the attendant from the media motor pool cleared the area, though, something unusual happened. We immediately became acquainted with several neighbors who never thought to walk across the street when a Hyundai Elantra was in the driveway.

Early Verdict

We’ll cut to the chase a bit, because the purely objective part of our query was answered rather quickly. Can you drive a supercar every day? Absolutely. Technology has progressed to the point where reliability is barely an issue anymore, and driving even the most powerful car–like this 640-horsepower monster–is so easy even a journalist can do it.

The biggest day-to-day physical hassle is pure ingress and egress. The Viper’s wide sills–hiding red-hot exhaust pipes–require a rather ungraceful exit. The real irony is that the people who have lived long enough to afford such a machine are the ones who will have the biggest trouble getting in and out.

Say what you will about the Viper’s styling–you can call it impractical or overdone or audacious if you want–but there’s no denying that the shape oozes energy. There’s also no denying that the C-word will come up in any Viper discussion with people even somewhat knowledgeable about cars. And while it’s hard to discuss the Viper without discussing the Corvette, the real story is about their differences rather than their similarities.

Both are world-class sports cars, but they get there in very different ways. The Viper is Malcom X to the Vette’s MLK. Magneto to its Professor Xavier. They have similar goals, but one doesn’t care how many kneecaps it has to break to achieve them.

And people seem to understand that on a primal level. The last Corvette we had got some attention on the road–a few smiles and nods–but driving a Viper is a whole other level of stepping into a fishbowl. Cars cut across three lanes of traffic on the highway to get a closer look. It seemed like a camera was pressed to a window in half the cars we encountered on the road. Kids smiled and waved. Attractive women looked profoundly disappointed, yet still somehow intrigued, when they saw who was driving. Most of all, people reacted. The first lesson we learned about driving a supercar every day is that everywhere you go, it’s an event.

“How much?” and “How fast?” were common questions, but just as common were personal anecdotes. A guy at Lowe’s started a conversation that culminated in him getting a little misty reminiscing about the TVR Griffith he had when he lived in Ireland. “The Lucas electrics meant you could only have lights or wipers, but never both. So we’d just turn the lights on and try to drive fast enough to blow the rain right off the windshield.”

He related this story while we were packing 60 feet of ¾-inch PVC, a lawn pump, and various fittings into the $120,000-plus exotic sports car. He seemed unfazed by our resourcefulness, or by the fact that we could easily get the 5-foot sections of PVC into the car and close the hatch, proving conclusively that a Viper can assist you in multiple forms of laying pipe.

Day In, Day Out

For a solid week, we drove the Viper every day, acting as though it were our only car. It’s doable. As our week neared its end, we realized that the pressure doesn’t come from the actual logistics. With its big hatch and deep trunk, the Viper easily swallows a couple hundred bucks’ worth of groceries.

Nor does it come from any inherent finickiness or complexity in the machinery. Most Viper owners report that well-maintained cars are reliable and drivable. Several consumable parts are shared with other cars in the Chrysler lineup, and even at 640 horsepower—a figure so high that Viper race cars are detuned up to 20 percent to compete in some pro series—the 8.4-liter V10 is still rather understressed.

No, the real burden of the everyday supercar is the emotional one, and we think this is where so many supercar owners either fail or miss the mark altogether, earning themselves the scarlet “DB” in return.

See, we met a lot of people when we were driving the Viper. It’s impossible not to. Kids, adults, car people, non-car people, old ladies, bikers, cyclists, priests, rabbis–no one could walk or drive past the Viper without reacting. Some simply waved or took a picture, but some stopped and engaged with us, telling us stories like the TVR guy, asking us questions, taking pictures (we got very good at using the camera controls on every major smartphone), and generally just wanting to bask in the Viper’s radiating heat.

So the real question is not “Can you drive a supercar every day?” but rather “Can you handle the burden of driving a supercar every day?”

For most modern cars–even hyperexotics– they’re going to start, run and drive every day. But driving them means that you are now an ambassador for the concept of cars being more than just appliances.

And here’s the thing: This doesn’t just apply to supercar. We bet any of you with a really clean first-gen CRX get a few questions from time to time. Or anyone with an autocross trailer loaded with tires and tools. You’re the connection between a world where cars are fun, and the world where they’re not. If you drive a Viper every day, but can’t stand that people are always asking you about it, then you’ve earned your douchebag title. Yeah, we said it.

Driving a supercar–or any other attention- grabbing ride–comes with the burden, or rather the responsibility, to spread the message that cars can be fun, exciting, sexy, frivolous and entertaining, and that’s totally okay. There’s nothing wrong or antisocial about it.

Most of our week with the Viper taught us that extreme machines have the power to stir emotions in just about everyone. It’s our job to make sure those emotions are nurtured in a positive direction. In other words, driving a Viper does not make you a douchebag. Being a douchebag makes you a douchebag.

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Comments
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dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
5/1/18 5:32 p.m.

Really good read and I completely get what you are saying about you better be a people person if you have a car that is of this type.  I have had some attention getting cars over the years and I always enjoyed it. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
5/1/18 5:46 p.m.

I HATE when people talk to me about my car when I'm out and about. The 911 is about as far into the realm of obvious cars as I'm willing to go. I much prefer my supercars to be wearing minivan skin. 

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
5/1/18 6:04 p.m.

Interesting take.  

My big fault with exotics is the absolute waste they are on public roads.  Not many people will walk up to a DB7 driver for some reason, but when I drove it, all I could think about was how loafing the car was.  Even at 80mph.  If I went to 100, it was still over 80mph from it's peak.  Big deal.

Certainly nice to look at.  But very pointless.

(some will recall that I worked on the DB7 V12 from 1996-1999)

racerdave600
racerdave600 UltraDork
5/1/18 6:08 p.m.

I've never owned a supercar (but have driven Vipers on track), so can't comment on that aspect, but I did draw crowds everywhere I went in my old Fiat 600D.  You literally couldn't even drive it to the store without people coming up and talking to you.  Everything from how cute, to what is it, to i had one of these when i was in the military stationed in Italy.  "We could cram 396 people in it and drive to the next town" kind of stories would follow.  I also used to let people sit in it and take pictures.  Then there was the constant thumbs up driving down the road.  You couldn't be shy and drive it.  Its popularity went across all class levels, men, women, kids, didn't matter.  I'm pretty sure barnyard animals also liked it if they could talk, or had thumbs.  devil

Sonic
Sonic UltraDork
5/1/18 7:16 p.m.

As usual, JG is right on.  I’ve had to get used to this with my NSX, I just be polite and talk to people or wave or whatever.  It’s worth it to drive the most engaging car I’ve ever experienced.  

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
5/1/18 9:05 p.m.

That is one thing I miss about the classic Mini. Driving that car around on the occasional errand was always fun. 

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
5/1/18 9:09 p.m.

I used to have an old ambulance (1966 Pontiac Bonneville "consort," or short wheelbase hearse/ambulance combo) with the Ghostbusters logos on the doors. When I first got it, it had a bunch of Ghostbusters-esque stuff strapped to the roof. It got an enormous amount of attention.

(What it was like without the rooftop stuff.) People would shout at me, a few women flashed me, I had someone get out of line in a drivethrough to come talk to me. I had someone ask to pump my gas. That sort of thing. Absolutely for the wrong kind of person it would be hell but I grew to like it. People always smiled. It wasn't negative attention.

My favorite was selling a 1972 Corolla to a nice guy from Florida, of Indian descent. I picked him up at the airport in the Pontiac, and as we drove through downtown Columbus, I kind of noticed him sinking lower and lower in his seat. He finally said "This kind of car is not for me. I do not like this much attention." I was just so used to absolutely everyone staring at the car it just didn't phase me. It was funny to get that new perspective on it.

I was young when I got it, just 20, and it was a bondo queen. So a few years of actual regular use in Ohio without a garage led to a lot of rust. I mean a monumental amount of rust. I just didn't have the skill to restore it myself or the money to pay someone. When I sold my first house after 13 years of fun with it, I sold the Pontiac. I still miss it but hopefully it's living a good life out in St Louis with the collector I sold it to.

markwemple
markwemple UberDork
5/1/18 9:25 p.m.

I don't consider my 911 or the Viper to be a super car. Sorry. Way too low tech and just not enough performance. A 911 turbo is the baseline, along with a 458.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
5/2/18 6:23 a.m.

I think I might be immune to this but will need to start driving a supercar to confirm- nobody ever talks to me when I'm driving a fully stickered up rally car, so I may have some sort of vehicular invisibility power.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
5/2/18 7:05 a.m.
markwemple said:

I don't consider my 911 or the Viper to be a super car. Sorry. Way too low tech and just not enough performance. A 911 turbo is the baseline, along with a 458.

No, no 911 is a "supercar" in the eyes of the general public, regardless of raw performance - they are simply too common.  Part of what defines a supercar is rarity, and the Viper for better or worse qualifies, even if a base 911 can beat it by some measures. 

My Mini definitely attracted the most attention of any car I've owned or driven regularly, followed by the ex's Volvo 1800ES (which I drove quite a bit), my '72 GT6 and then the '79 Spitfire.  If I could afford to buy and own a Ferrari, I would definitely drive it a lot.  Probably more than I drive my '06 MINI.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
5/2/18 7:08 a.m.

Supercar is more about image to most people. We should probably call them "exotics" instead. It also varies depending on the area you're in. There are probalby places were a Viper is boring, and other places where people would line the streets like a WRC stage to watch it go by. 

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
5/2/18 7:12 a.m.
markwemple said:

I don't consider my 911 or the Viper to be a super car. Sorry. Way too low tech and just not enough performance. A 911 turbo is the baseline, along with a 458.

Tech has nothing to do with super car.  It's about what it can do, and how outrageous it looks.  Or it's connections to other cars.  The Viper fits right into that.  So on a performance level, you are using a small fraction of what it can do, and people around you know it.  Both of which makes it a super car..

Mike
Mike SuperDork
5/2/18 7:15 a.m.

I had a little bit of this driving a Volt in Louisiana in 2012. I liked it. I normally have an intense distrust of strangers talking to me. 

The Teslas started to show up here about two years ago, and we have at least one Bolt, one i3 and a LEAF that I see on the regular, so it's probably not a big deal. 

Honestly, I miss the attention. It's a criteria of my increasingly protracted car search. 

JimS
JimS Reader
5/2/18 7:53 a.m.

My 911 may not be a super car to people here but wherever I go with it I get looks and comments. My son has been asked more than once if his red Cayman S is a Ferrari. Porsches may not be as rare as super cars but there aren't that many of them driving around and they still get attention. 

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
5/2/18 8:05 a.m.
markwemple said:

I don't consider my 911 or the Viper to be a super car. Sorry. Way too low tech and just not enough performance. A 911 turbo is the baseline, along with a 458.

A Viper is pretty much the textbook definition of a super car. It would certainly wipe the floor with your 911 on a track. This is as funny an opinion to me as when you said nascar wasn’t racing. 

NOHOME
NOHOME UltimaDork
5/2/18 8:11 a.m.

That was a fun read.

 

The only thing missing from the reported experience is the anxiety level of driving such a car in an environment where wear and tear to the carrozeria is a given.

The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
5/2/18 8:54 a.m.

proving conclusively that a Viper can assist you in multiple forms of laying pipe.

That made me laugh. 

Owning an everyday supercar like a Viper or an NSX is something I'd like to experience one day. There's something visceral about them that I don't feel when driving modified J-Tin no matter how fun it is.

I get to talk with import guys from time to time when someone recognizes what my cars are, which is rare. Then again, demographics in my area skew towards old American Iron.

I can see having to have a certain personality to drive one of them every day with the sort of attention they attract even from the layman.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/2/18 9:49 a.m.

The amount of attention such cars draw is one of the reasons I didn't go for an S2 Elise I could've just barely afforded. Being about the same color as the Viper in the article, it drew vastly more attention than I had observed being given to a black or silver Elise.

Is a Viper a supercar? Performance-wise, It's in the high-end sports car/supercar border area, like a (recent) Turbo 911 or a Corvette ZR1. That's where I put my border, you may disagree with where I put it but it's a consistent, straight border. In terms of looks I'd say it easily qualifies though.* It will get at least as much attention from the average Joe as anything Porsche makes short of the 918.

*At least the later "Italian-styled" models, I wouldn't say the more plain/crude American-styled earlier models quite make the cut - but I actually preferred the earlier Viper's design philosophy as a simple performance-focused model.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
5/2/18 10:04 a.m.

One question to people, would you consider an Aston Martin DB7 Vantage (the one with the V12) a super car, or just exotic?

If you do, then the Viper is, too- as they are essentially the same car- 400-500hp, front big engine, rear independent suspension, limited production.  Heck they even shared the same gearbox.

So perhaps the original question can be "what's it like to drive an exotic...."

Xceler8x
Xceler8x UberDork
5/2/18 10:09 a.m.

JG, hilarious read. You're killing me with those lines about disappointed yet intrigued women and laying pipe. Hats off to you wordsmith. 

I've driven a few cars that drew a surprising amount of attention. Quite possibly because people thought "What in the hell is this doing still on the road and in this condition?" Some were in great condition and others were highly modified. It was always fun. I received the same attention while riding a Buell motorcycle. It's always fun and makes for great stories. 

Thanks for sharing that JG. 

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
5/2/18 10:17 a.m.

the 1970 Impala I DD'd for several years drew comments, stories, and interest everywhere. Once a day someone would hang out the window of another car and ask how much I wanted for it. I went from it to a brand new '05 Mustang GT - and it got almost as much attention, but not quite. After six months of the Mustang being new enough to be unusual, it was only the creepy Mustang Club people that commented, even now.

I always enjoyed the interactions. Not long after I got the Mustang I converted an entire bus of load elementary school kids to car nuts. At a light the bus was next to me and some of the kids were pointing out the window at the car. I turned off the TC and did a massive smoky burnout away from the bus when the light went green. At the next light the entire bus was screaming and cheering. I laughed out loud and mentally apologized to all the parents for planting the hoonigan seed.

 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
5/2/18 10:22 a.m.

In reply to Xceler8x :

What kind of bike weirdo town do you live in that people talk to you about a Buell?  I'm struggling to think of a time anyone said anything about mine other than "is that a Ducati?" and that only happens once a year or so.

smokindav
smokindav Reader
5/2/18 10:25 a.m.

A Viper is not a supercar. Drive something that is a supercar and report back.

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
5/2/18 10:59 a.m.

I don't have enough headslap pictures for some of these replies.

 

It was a great article, thanks for a fun read JG.

meldog21
meldog21 New Reader
5/2/18 11:02 a.m.

Great commentary on the image aspect of daily driving a car like the Viper.   But, not much on the real world aspect of dealing with normal driving.  

I don't mind, and rather enjoy the interaction with people when driving my extensively track modified Z06.    That part is great, but lets not forget the rest of the experience.   

First of all, an exotic, supercar (or whatever you choose to call it) car's performance is extremely intoxicating and satisfying even when doing a mundane errands or traveling in moderate traffic.  It just makes you feel good.

Besides the ingress and egress contortion limbo, there are a few other difficulties that go with daily driving a car like the Viper.  Curbs, potholes, road dips, driveways, and especially parking.   I don't really mind having to park so far away from my destination, but keeping the car away from the masses of people who don't give a hoot about their own cars or anyone else's must always be considered.  My car has approximately 4.5" clearance at the splitter (primarily a street car) and steep driveways that are no problem in my beater Miata can be a real challenge.   Maybe I just need a fancier supercar with suspension that raises at the push of a button to clear driveways.     Now that I think about it more, yes, yes I do.   An exceptionally high tech, fancy, high performance exotic supercar is exactly what I need.

 

RyanGreener
RyanGreener New Reader
5/2/18 11:10 a.m.

Pretty good article. I don't see why a single person wouldn't be able to use a "supercar" for their own usage. I think the impracticality comes in the cost of maintenance for certain cars, as well as for family usage (IE: Mom/Dad/2-3 Kids). For me of course, it would be paranoia of my "baby" getting damaged.

h2000wt
h2000wt
5/2/18 12:01 p.m.

Back when they were new, I drove a Lotus Europa everyday (except when it snowed...) and occasionally a Ferrari 308GT4.  I got more people talking to me in the Lotus than the Ferrari though most of them wore uniforms and handed out tickets. 

 

 

sdaemon
sdaemon
5/2/18 1:40 p.m.

I don't really consider a Viper a supercar, just like I don't consider a Corvette a supercar - fun track cars, yes, but not really supercar (and power alone does not make a supercar - an M5 has 600HP and a Hellcat has 700+ HP, neither of which I think anyone would call a supercar)...

I do drive my bright orange 2018 McLaren Spider around pretty much every day though, which is a lot of fun - and I get stopped everywhere of course, though I take the time to talk to anyone who wants to talk about it. Especially get a lot of attention when the doors go up! Only time it can be an issue is if I'm in a hurry - and since I don't like to be impolite, I end up being late :(

I get attention in my Lotus, Evo, and even M3 - but not like the McLaren. People (for the most part) just get really giddy around it. The former would only really be "car people" - but the supercar attracts everyone. I am happy that other people get happy around it though - I even let people sit in it to take pics if they want, especially younger kids. Hopefully it inspires them to do well and get their own :)

Thanks!

 

mainlandboy
mainlandboy Reader
5/2/18 2:49 p.m.

Interesting article, and I agree that if you don't want to come across as a jerk, you'd better be prepared to chat with strangers who come up to talk to you about it. I have never owned anything close to a supercar, and likely never will. The attention wouldn't bother me, but even if I had the financial means, I would be too paranoid to use something of such value as a daily driver, for fear of it getting dings and scratches in parking lots, or worse, smashed into from some driver not paying attention. That fear might make me leave it in the garage more often than a daily driver should, and that would also bother me, having a fun car that isn't getting driven enough.

Although my Locost was nowhere near being a supercar, it drew quite a bit of attention and I enjoyed chatting with strangers who came up to ask about it. Most people (even car guys) were not familiar with what a Lotus 7 is, so a lot of people had no idea what the car was. With no doors, roof or climate control, I couldn't use it as a daily driver and it sat in the garage for 9 to 10 months of the year. Although it was a super fun car and I have great memories from it, it taught me a lesson that a car needs to be driven regularly to enjoy it. Becasue of which, any future fun cars for me need to be practical enough to use most of the year, but not so valuable that I am paranoid to drive it regularly. 

livinon2wheels
livinon2wheels New Reader
5/2/18 2:51 p.m.

I dont think its just supercars that draw the crowds, its any car that is unusual or that you dont see many of, or one that has been modded in an unusual way for the kind of car it is. For example, my 91 subaru legacy wagon draws attention fairly often when I drive it because it is obviously modded in a constructive way that doesnt destroy the utility of the car but makes all the right sounds and looks the part of a nicely set up street car. No it isnt beautiful by any stretch, nor is the project complete, but it is a decent driver now that works well and I often have people ask me about it because there are so darn few of them left now.

Its fun for me to talk about the project and to help promote the brand and encourage people to get involved in subaru ownership at whatever level they can afford because they are really decent cars. The fact that I own 4 subies speaks to my liking of the marque and appreciation for their design philosophy. I have made some friends by doing this and found my life enriched by the people I have encountered. Everybody wins. 

markwemple
markwemple UberDork
5/2/18 3:11 p.m.

In reply to dculberson :

NASCAR isn't racing and vipers arent that fast around a track. They can be made to go fast but unless there are really long straits, it will loose. Brakes and suspension aren't up to it

 Plus they are relatively low tech.

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
5/2/18 3:56 p.m.
markwemple said:

In reply to dculberson :

NASCAR isn't racing and vipers arent that fast around a track. They can be made to go fast but unless there are really long straits, it will loose. Brakes and suspension aren't up to it

 Plus they are relatively low tech.

Don’t wrestle with the troll

yupididit
yupididit SuperDork
5/2/18 6:30 p.m.
sdaemon said:

I don't really consider a Viper a supercar, just like I don't consider a Corvette a supercar - fun track cars, yes, but not really supercar (and power alone does not make a supercar - an M5 has 600HP and a Hellcat has 700+ HP, neither of which I think anyone would call a supercar)...

I do drive my bright orange 2018 McLaren Spider around pretty much every day though, which is a lot of fun - and I get stopped everywhere of course, though I take the time to talk to anyone who wants to talk about it. Especially get a lot of attention when the doors go up! Only time it can be an issue is if I'm in a hurry - and since I don't like to be impolite, I end up being late :(

I get attention in my Lotus, Evo, and even M3 - but not like the McLaren. People (for the most part) just get really giddy around it. The former would only really be "car people" - but the supercar attracts everyone. I am happy that other people get happy around it though - I even let people sit in it to take pics if they want, especially younger kids. Hopefully it inspires them to do well and get their own :)

Thanks!

 

Well, E36 M3. 

wearymicrobe
wearymicrobe UberDork
5/2/18 7:59 p.m.
markwemple said:

In reply to dculberson :

NASCAR isn't racing and vipers arent that fast around a track. They can be made to go fast but unless there are really long straits, it will loose. Brakes and suspension aren't up to it

 Plus they are relatively low tech.

Name the track and name the tires and bring it.

I am more the happy to show just what a Viper can do. Bring anything you want, any price you want and we go at it with similar tire. Any make as long as it is street legal. I can hunt down and pass 7 figure hypercars in mine. I have had 8 of them over my life, a stock Gen IV is a better car then you are a driver. The ACR is on another plane of existence. The Gen V ACR will eat anything stock for stock IMO under 1.5 million and do it on crappy California pump gas on tires that are usable on the street.

To put things in perspective. There are 15,000 F360's in the world. There were 2500 Vipers made in the same time period. They are American Exotics and I like that term. They are not supercars, or even straight exotics.

 

 

reflexr
reflexr New Reader
5/2/18 9:11 p.m.

It’s a great article that touches on two great, important points. 

“You’re the connection between a world where cars are fun, and the world where they’re not.” 

As a racer, amongst my co-workers, this is super evident. And I love it! I daily drive a mundane, vanilla 911(99 C2). But I still get conversations at gas stations and stares at Costco, usually followed by conversation. Being an ambassador for cars and car enthusiasm is a responsibility we have, to ensure our enthusiasm continues. Which brings me to my next point. 

I wave and smile and rev the engine for every child that waves or looks on or points. Kids are it, I fell in love with Porsche’s at the 1976 Long Beach GP. When I was 6. I haven’t stopped loving them since, and will probably do so til I die. If kids are at all interested in cars, seeing high performance versions driving around spurs their interest even more. Our ambassadorship is called on to propagate that interest. It’s our duty as car people. 

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
5/2/18 9:12 p.m.

In reply to wearymicrobe :

Damn straight. A Viper ACR will beat every Porsche but a GT3, GT2 RS, or 918 around the Ring and I don’t know how you can claim that’s not fast. It will wipe the floor with every 911 Turbo made. 

wearymicrobe
wearymicrobe UberDork
5/2/18 11:14 p.m.
dculberson said:

In reply to wearymicrobe :

Damn straight. A Viper ACR will beat every Porsche but a GT3, GT2 RS, or 918 around the Ring and I don’t know how you can claim that’s not fast. It will wipe the floor with every 911 Turbo made. 

They are actually 11 seconds a lap slower then the Gen V ACR then the 911 Turbo S at Leguna. That is a lifetime. ACR;s are actually faster then the GT3 but not the RS at the ring but its not really fair comparison as the RS run was a factory effort and the new tires they put on those things and the active rear steering is just fantastic.

FYI the new GT3 RS is bonkers insane, its just a monster on all levels. I love the car but I just cannot get past the price and the fact that they took away PTS. RS 911's need to be painted bonkers colors IMO. Paint it purple or lime green and go crazy. Mexico blue does not ount.

FYI exotics that are track focused are terrible street cars though. Want to have fun find something like a 911 Turbo or a 570s. One of the things that often if dismissed on reviews like this is frankly bought as 4th or 5th cars. I cannot recommend them even though I have used mine as street cars for years. The attention gets old unless you are a nut like me and super super outgoing. Even in car culture California where you an see Bugatti's and just about everything else on the street they still pull attention in a way you would not expect.  

te72
te72 Reader
5/2/18 11:22 p.m.

Most people where I live don't really know what my car is (87 Supra Turbo), which used to work to my advantage when people thought it was just some old car with a loud exhaust, hahaha... Either folks just don't care anymore, or I don't drive it enough these days, have yet to have anyone challenge the new build. Frankly have no desire to play with anyone I don't know, simply for safety reasons anymore.

 

That said, my car has a presence, probably due to the way the suspension and wheels make everything look a bit aggressive. Whatever car I'm driving though, if I see bright eyes on kids as I'm driving by, I give them a bit of a rev and a wave. Gotta keep the hobby going!

RyanGreener
RyanGreener New Reader
5/3/18 6:13 a.m.

te72, you've got good taste. I miss my old 87 Supra and I wish I never got rid of it :(

One day I'll get another!

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 MegaDork
5/3/18 6:52 a.m.

I dailied a 64 el Camino and rarely got noticed. My 70 duster on the other hand, i can't go anywhere without talking to someone. I kinda like it.

Tomwas1
Tomwas1 New Reader
5/3/18 1:23 p.m.

Never a super car, but I'm always driving something "different". Sold my 92 e30 convertible and now driving a 1980 280ZX 2+2. Always getting comments and compliments. Heads turn to follow it as I pass by. I enjoy the attention it gets and people are very nice.

 

ztnedman1
ztnedman1 New Reader
5/3/18 2:18 p.m.

In reply to markwemple :

LMAO I take it you don't follow national level autoX?

Hate to break it to you but even the C5Z is all the GT3 and GT4 Porsches can handle...and that's Autocross.  The Vipers are right in that same mix.  

I was once like you...then started actually racing and got real.  Those low tech American tractors are not just surprisingly effective they are good.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
5/3/18 2:18 p.m.

For some reason the 240z I had got TONS of attention whenever I stopped for gas / groceries /etc.

 

It seems everyone alive had an uncle, brother or friend that had one, and they feel compelled to tell you about it.   Maybe it's the everyman nature of the Datsun that makes folks so eager to talk about it.   No car I've ever owned attracted that sort of following--- no press car either, and we've had a few Duesys around the office.  (no Duesenbergs however! ) 

racerdave600
racerdave600 UltraDork
5/3/18 2:40 p.m.
Joe Gearin said:

For some reason the 240z I had got TONS of attention whenever I stopped for gas / groceries /etc.

 

It seems everyone alive had an uncle, brother or friend that had one, and they feel compelled to tell you about it.   Maybe it's the everyman nature of the Datsun that makes folks so eager to talk about it.   No car I've ever owned attracted that sort of following--- no press car either, and we've had a few Duesys around the office.  (no Duesenbergs however! ) 

Do you still have the Z?  I regret selling my '71 pretty much everyday. I'd buy another if the right one came along.  I actually pulled up next to one at the pumps a few weeks ago, and of course we had a conversation.  wink

To the question if a Viper is fast, um, yes, it's very fast.  I've driven them on track (Gen 2) and not only are they fast in a straight line, they corner exceptionally well.  And not only do they corner well, I found them well behaved and not some evil beast that is there to rip your neck off if you make a mistake.  Sure it will power oversteer, but it is a nice, balanced car.  Brakes were great too.  I'd like to see a bit lighter shifter, but that's pretty much my only complaint.  There is something raw and special about it that you do not get in Corvettes.  I've always said it drove like a big, tremendously fast Miata, and it does.  The steering felt just about as direct.  

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
5/3/18 3:02 p.m.
racerdave600 said:
Joe Gearin said:

For some reason the 240z I had got TONS of attention whenever I stopped for gas / groceries /etc.

 

It seems everyone alive had an uncle, brother or friend that had one, and they feel compelled to tell you about it.   Maybe it's the everyman nature of the Datsun that makes folks so eager to talk about it.   No car I've ever owned attracted that sort of following--- no press car either, and we've had a few Duesys around the office.  (no Duesenbergs however! ) 

Do you still have the Z?  I regret selling my '71 pretty much everyday. I'd buy another if the right one came along.  I actually pulled up next to one at the pumps a few weeks ago, and of course we had a conversation.  wink

 

Nope--- sold the Z to Steven Cole Smith actually.  Mine was a 73, and of course I retrofitted the earlier carbs to it.  I loved that car, but had to move on.  Seeing all the fantastic early Z-cars at the Mitty this year certainly didnt' help with my longing for that car.   Not sure if I'll have another now that they are finally bringing decent $$.  

racerdave600
racerdave600 UltraDork
5/3/18 4:22 p.m.

That's a bit of my problem too Joe.  I still think of nice ones as $5k cars, now the same car is nearer to $15k plus.  At that price, you start creeping into cars I want more than a 240.  I still loved it though and would like another.  

te72
te72 Reader
5/4/18 12:34 a.m.
RyanGreener said:

te72, you've got good taste. I miss my old 87 Supra and I wish I never got rid of it :(

One day I'll get another!

Good taste, perhaps, questionable sanity for going as far as I have with a car that's worth next to nothing, most definitely! =P

 

They do get in you in a weird way though, wish I had never sold my first Supra, a slow, non turbo, automatic 1988, light blue (what was commonly referred to as "gay blue" back in the day for some reason) with the blue interior. Had fading paint on the bumpers, a tiny spot of rust on one of the front fenders, and one solitary ding on the passenger headlight cover. Otherwise that car was in mint condition, and I picked it up for a song. Eleven years after selling, I still regret it.

 

Should join us for Supras In Vegas this September, if you've never been it's a great time!

wspohn
wspohn Dork
5/4/18 4:20 p.m.

Only super car list the Viper wins is lowest specific output engine. Hard to respect a car that uses a low output (per liter)  engine which achieves decent power through displacement (now 8.4 liters) rather than sophisticated design.

That's about 76 bhp/liter.  My street BMW puts out 104 bhp/l and the Honda S2000 gets 120, both without any sort of turbo or supercharging. Toss a blower in and it makes it even more glaring - my street Ecotec sports car gets 187 bhp/l and still returns around 30 mpg on the highway.  And still matches the phase 1 Vipers for quarter mile and 0-60 times, using 2.0 liters in place of 8..

Sorry, just cannot see them as a super car.  

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
5/4/18 9:18 p.m.

In reply to wspohn :

I honestly do not give one crap about hp/liter. Talk about a worthless metric when it comes to actual driving experience and speed. Hp/liter does not win races or make a car great. 

Grizz
Grizz UberDork
5/4/18 9:31 p.m.

Sophistication doesn't matter much when the viper stomps ass. Neither do 1/4 times in cars geared to go over 150


Let us review:

Fast as hell: yes
Sexiful: yes
Mildly impractical: yes
Suspicions of coke use: yes
Ridiculous engine: yes
Mild risk of fire in some models: yes

Checks pretty much all the super car boxes.

te72
te72 Reader
5/5/18 1:36 a.m.
dculberson said:

In reply to wspohn :

I honestly do not give one crap about hp/liter. Talk about a worthless metric when it comes to actual driving experience and speed. Hp/liter does not win races or make a car great. 

I see your point, from a driving perspective. That's what cars are about, driving, mostly. However, there is a certain quality of having to DRIVE a car to get the speed out of it, a challenge if you will. It WILL hone your driving skills if you can't simply rely on torque to get you around in any gear.

 

In my specific case and what I use my car for, a big displacement engine would be ideal, but... I'd be bored to tears driving it. Plus, if I built something like this in the same methods that I built my Supra, there's no tire on earth that would hold back the power that would be made from 8+ liters on the roads I drive on, effectively making the car pointless...

bmw88rider
bmw88rider SuperDork
5/5/18 12:23 p.m.

In reply to wspohn :

5.31 Lb per HP with a lot of head room for 750WHP NA and still be streetable is Supercar in my books. 

HP/L is so overrated. Tq/L and area under the curve is where it's at unless you are in a 1000 LBs Exocet or P car. 

Having driven a S2000 a lot and now owning and daily driving a V8 Miata, There is something to say about having 320+ Tq available at 1500 RPM. Oh and I can get 30 MPG on the Hwy too if I'm in cruising mode even in a dirty aero car like the NC miata. 

yupididit
yupididit SuperDork
5/5/18 1:05 p.m.

It seems people have forgotten what a supercar is because the corvette z06 basically acquired supercar performance at regular man prices and the arrival of hypercars. 

Wally
Wally MegaDork
5/5/18 3:15 p.m.

Just to make sure I understand: the Viper, with wins at Daytona, Le Mans, Sebring... is not a super car but Chevy Cobalt SS is because HP/L.  Got it. Wish I knew that when I traded in my Cavalier.

chandler
chandler PowerDork
5/7/18 9:07 a.m.
Grizz said:

Sophistication doesn't matter much when the viper stomps ass. Neither do 1/4 times in cars geared to go over 150


Let us review:

Fast as hell: yes
Sexiful: yes
Mildly impractical: yes
Suspicions of coke use: yes
Ridiculous engine: yes
Mild risk of fire in some models: yes

Checks pretty much all the super car boxes.

I like this, never understood the viper haters.

markwemple
markwemple UberDork
5/7/18 11:16 a.m.

I'm not sure there are VIper haters here. I think the definition of a supercar needs clearer definition. Pushing the technical envelope is high on the list, though. ANd the Viper just doesn't. Also, I don't find it sexy at all. Sorry. I don't find 911s sexy either. That is dominated by the Italians. Plus, anything with a pushrod, is too closely related to trucks and tractors for me to ever call one a supercar.

markwemple
markwemple UberDork
5/7/18 11:18 a.m.

In reply to Grizz :

So a v-10 f-350 has a ridiculous engine?

Grizz
Grizz UberDork
5/7/18 11:39 a.m.

Yes. When is an almost 7 liter v10 anything but ridiculous?

It also fails all the other checks except the fire hazard one.

Driven5
Driven5 SuperDork
5/7/18 11:41 a.m.

There are no winners in the 'pedantic argument of the week'.

 

te72
te72 Reader
5/8/18 12:28 a.m.
Driven5 said:

There are no winners in the 'pedantic argument of the week'.

 

Unfortunately you're right. Let's simplify this then, shall we. I define a supercar as the following:

 

-It still seems a little dream-like that it's in the garage I have keys to.

-It is fun to drive with enthusiasm.

-My 8 year old self would be thrilled to know that someday, a car like THIS would be my car.

-Kids and gearheads alike had posters of this car on the walls.

 

I think a Viper easily fits the description for me, even if it's a car I'll never pursue. The 90's were a cool time for open minded car geeks... =)

imsadriver
imsadriver New Reader
5/8/18 4:59 a.m.

Well, having driven some pretty high end racing cars (Ferrari, Porsche, Riley Ford) on track, and still teach in some of these. It often depends on where you live. Up north, you can't drive the cars half the year. Here in Florida (especially Palm Beach), new high dollar Ferraris, Lambos, you name it are a dime a dozen, so rarely do people ask you about them. When I owned them up north, it was a hassle. Pot holes in the roads, people hate you and key your car, give the the "finger". Here they don't care, but I still have to be careful where I park (don't want dings in the car), watch the speed bumps, watch driveway entrances and exits, and last, I'm getting a bit older now, so getting in and out of my NSX can get painful after a day of driving. Still fun though. But I always have a "beater" to drive daily. In my case a 2007 Cadillac DTH (DeVille) with only 22,000 miles on it. Keeps the miles off the NSX, and I don't like using the sporty little car in bad weather.

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
5/8/18 9:47 a.m.
wspohn said:

Only super car list the Viper wins is lowest specific output engine. Hard to respect a car that uses a low output (per liter)  engine which achieves decent power through displacement (now 8.4 liters) rather than sophisticated design.

That's about 76 bhp/liter.  My street BMW puts out 104 bhp/l and the Honda S2000 gets 120, both without any sort of turbo or supercharging. Toss a blower in and it makes it even more glaring - my street Ecotec sports car gets 187 bhp/l and still returns around 30 mpg on the highway.  And still matches the phase 1 Vipers for quarter mile and 0-60 times, using 2.0 liters in place of 8..

Sorry, just cannot see them as a super car.  

 

Oh, god, not the HP/Liter crap again. A Cox .049 RC airplane engine makes 400+ hp/liter, but would you want one powering your car? It wouldn't even MOVE. It's easy to make better hp/liter the smaller an engine is. No magic or superior engineering. You want more hp, you make the engine bigger, you want more hp/liter, you make it smaller. But hp/liter ONLY matters in countries where displacement is taxed and in racing classes where displacement is capped. THAT'S IT.

 

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
5/8/18 9:50 a.m.

Is it fast as berkeley and is it likely to make people do a double take? If yes to both of these things, it is a supercar.

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
5/8/18 10:27 a.m.

Plus, you can always turbo it to make better hp/liter... ;)

Yeah, it's a supercar.

Hoondavan
Hoondavan New Reader
5/8/18 10:44 a.m.

911s are too commonplace to draw too much attention in most places I've lived. Most people wouldn't notice the difference between a turbo and a base 996.  The GT and RS models are a lot easier to spot with the wings, intakes,and tires etc...but once again a Viper is easier to spot.  I see them often enough I don't even think to take a picture.  I can't remember the last time I saw a Viper in the wild.

I passed a Porsche track car on I-95 near Daytona last week.  It was wrapped w/numbers, had a massive wing and was driving exactly the speed limit.  I didn't notice if it were actually an RS or GT3 model etc.  The sport-bike in front of me (passing lane) slowed by 20mph, pulled out his phone and took a picture at-speed.  I wanted to photo-document the whole thing...but that kind of distraction would have been just as dangerous. 

grover
grover Reader
5/8/18 11:01 a.m.

To me, the Viper was a part of the movement that shattered the super car segment. They weren’t my favorite per se as a younger person, but around here they are far cooler to see than the average Ferrari, Lamborghini, austin etc. 

wearymicrobe
wearymicrobe UberDork
5/8/18 11:07 a.m.
Chris_V said:
wspohn said:

Only super car list the Viper wins is lowest specific output engine. Hard to respect a car that uses a low output (per liter)  engine which achieves decent power through displacement (now 8.4 liters) rather than sophisticated design.

That's about 76 bhp/liter.  My street BMW puts out 104 bhp/l and the Honda S2000 gets 120, both without any sort of turbo or supercharging. Toss a blower in and it makes it even more glaring - my street Ecotec sports car gets 187 bhp/l and still returns around 30 mpg on the highway.  And still matches the phase 1 Vipers for quarter mile and 0-60 times, using 2.0 liters in place of 8..

Sorry, just cannot see them as a super car.  

 

Oh, god, not the HP/Liter crap again. A Cox .049 RC airplane engine makes 400+ hp/liter, but would you want one powering your car? It wouldn't even MOVE. It's easy to make better hp/liter the smaller an engine is. No magic or superior engineering. You want more hp, you make the engine bigger, you want more hp/liter, you make it smaller. But hp/liter ONLY matters in countries where displacement is taxed and in racing classes where displacement is capped. THAT'S IT.

 

One of the reasons Vipers do so well at the track is that they are lower on the HP/Liter scale. They are seriously under stressed and can take track abuse all day due to it. Also torque is FUN. 1000hp is also just boost away, built block and 2400hp is just boost away. .

Mine only puts 682hp to the wheel which is about 765-780 crank and the thing just floats along and for a built engine it is very streetable.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
5/8/18 12:20 p.m.

100HP/liter...

How cute...

Image result for top fuel dragster

devil

te72
te72 Reader
5/8/18 10:20 p.m.
wearymicrobe said:

One of the reasons Vipers do so well at the track is that they are lower on the HP/Liter scale. They are seriously under stressed and can take track abuse all day due to it.

Bingo. Want an engine to last? Keep the revs reasonable in regards to piston speed. That said, the stroke on my engine is only 71.5mm, so it's a lot of fun (and makes a good noise) if you rev it to the moon... To me, it's more exciting to drive, even if it's not the fastest thing out there.

wspohn
wspohn Dork
5/9/18 11:59 a.m.

One thing that detracts from every day usage of these sorts of cars is the significant chance that some envious idiot will key the thing just because you own it and he doesn't.

I used my Lamborghini whenever I wanted to and didn't worry so much about leaving it parked (except in some parts of town) but a friend with a Gallardo was so worried about it that he rarely used the car and finally sold it, as he said he just wasn't getting the sort of enjoyment from it that he had expected.

Had another neighbour with a Viper who also restricted his use as it was rated as a car most likely to be vandalized if left in a parking lot.

Andy Neuman
Andy Neuman Dork
5/9/18 3:20 p.m.

I like this article and show it to my friends when they ask why I sold my Viper. I just wanted to drive the car, not talk to everyone about it. 

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
5/9/18 3:29 p.m.

You have to be a bit of an extrovert, all right. I grew up building custom cars and show cars, so I'm used to talking to people about cars at every stop. Doesn't bug me, and in fact, it just part of the experience.

Everything from this car:

to this one:

...made people want to stop and talk about them. In fact, it's kind of boring driving a car no one wants to talk to you about at this point... lol! I need another exotic/custom car...

yupididit
yupididit SuperDork
5/9/18 7:36 p.m.

In reply to wspohn :

Who else on GRM driving lambs, vipers, and McLaren? Geez

Cotton
Cotton PowerDork
5/9/18 9:03 p.m.

My gold 78 T/A probably gets as much attention as my bright red Ferrari,  but it seems ALL the attention towards the T/A is positive.  People just love that car.  I’m not a huge fan of the attention either,  but I love the cars.  A lot of my driving in the Ferrari or the Porsches is weekend spirited backroad stuff....that way I can focus on enjoying the cars

te72
te72 Reader
5/9/18 10:48 p.m.

Doesn't bother me talking about my car. Probably bothers the people who ask about it though, haha!

 

For those who would rather drive than talk about it, or don't like the attention, I offer a simple solution. Order fuel by the barrel, have it delivered to your house (or pick it up yourself), fuel up in your garage, then get out of town for some back road driving. Cars like this aren't really in their element in traffic, even though they're more agreeable than ever these days.

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