I was just a little shaver when Dodge introduced the Viper to the world back in 1989. By it's first year of production, however, I had already experienced my first feelings of car lust. Although the primary object of my affection was Chevy's IROC Camaro, the 1992 Dodge Viper instantly made it's way to my list of favorites. I hadn't driven an inch in an actual car yet, but I certainly cherished my 1/18th scale die cast Viper replica. It was black.

So let's take a look back at this powerful beast, born at the close of an era of disappointment among American cars. Sure, there were some good ones, but they didn't compare to the memorable classics from the previous two decades. The Viper arrived a the beginning of a muscle car revival of sorts, here in the United States. Automakers started to focus once again on fast, rather than frugal, and the Viper is indisputable evidence of this.

The car began its life in 1988 by Chrysler's Advanced Design Studios. At the time, the company was under the leadership of Bob Lutz. The concept was first seen by the public in 1989 at the North American International Auto Show. The concept was such a hit, Chrysler decided to make it available to consumers. Under Lutz's direction, Tom Gale and Roy Sjoberg brought the idea from paper to concept to production.

The original Viper powerplant was a modified V-10 from Chrysler's truck lineup. Recast in aluminum to reduce weight, it remained relatively unchanged in terms of functionality. Its performance specs were impressive even by today's standards. The car was an absolute brute in all aspects, and proved to be difficult to drive at its limits.

Its 400 bhp launched it to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, and it blew through the quarter mile in 13.1 seconds. With a curb weight of 3284 lb and torque rating of 465 lb·ft, the Viper was cut out to be a true performer.

It has since seen several successful updates and variations, and has held its spot among the elite of the supercar world for 20 years. It appears to be nearing the end of its life as a street car, but may continue life on the track.  There has never been anything like it, and probably never will.

[wikipedia]