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JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
5/1/18 1:25 p.m.


Like stories like this? This one is from an older issue of our magazine. You’ll see every article as soon as it's published by reading the print edition of Grassroots Motorsports. Subscribe now.

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.

Read the rest of the story

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.

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