All of the sudden, the Italian in everything and everyone comes out: Piloti, Brembo, Borgia, Machiavelli.
Then bring out the latest SRT Viper. Pretty soon, your buddies are cutting side eye at the lap times posted, making tires scream, making sure their space on the whiteboard stays near the top. Today's Viper guarantees any track day will go full-bore into competition mode in a matter of seconds.
It hasn't always been that road course must-drive. The first-gen Viper was more a cartoon come to life--much overdone, so America. As a sports car it lacked balance, but as a halo car, it was a siren, luring attention away from Chrysler's then-dire straits.
MORE: Read our SRT Viper first drive
Even Ralph Gilles, who was 19 at the time, got caught in its gravity field.
"It was so crazy, it was something that came from Mars," Chrysler's head of design and SRT president says, as he preps for a pro turn at the autocross in the Viper TA, the latest edition.
Now Gilles runs SRT and is in charge of making cars like the Viper look and act awesome. And after a near-death scare, the Roger Rabbit supercar's now in full Pixar bloom as the Viper TA.
What's a TA? It's physics, a graduate course in adding mass to gain speed. TA stands for Time Attack, and doesn't net the Viper any more horsepower, but it does set it up for track days at the hands of collectors who get the 159 production copies--some of the 20 percent of Viper owners that track their cars, Chrysler says.
The TA evolved in a face-saving way, when Motor Trend magazine tested the newest Viper GTS against Chevy's final C6 Corvette ZR1--and lost to the ZR1's new production-car lap record. The 'Vette's still a sore subject among Team Viper--the Chevy's cheaper, not as exclusive, we're told. ("Stingray" draws mostly silence.)