Many, many moons ago, Jeremy Clarkson reviewed a Dodge Viper on TopGear. It was loud, crude, badly built and it singed your legs when you tried to get out. And while he opined that it wouldn’t work in Europe, he did concede that the barn-door engineering gave it such a brutal charm that he couldn’t help but love it. And it is undoubtedly an eminently lovable car, but now it’s officially gone.
The last Viper rolled off the assembly line in Detroit only a couple days ago, with Chrysler’s SVP of Design, Ralph Gilles, posting the final two cars (the red one being the very last) on Instagram.
The Viper began life in the early 1990s, when Dodge wanted to create a halo car, something to stomp all over the Corvette and place Dodge at the top of the performance car heap. As such, it was endowed with an absolutely colossal 8.0L V10 that produced 400bhp and 465 lb-ft of torque. However, as TopGear’s (and many others’) reviews showed, the Viper was so unsophisticated and temperamental, even lacking basic driver aids like ABS and traction control, that it proved fiendishly difficult to drive at the limit and downright annoying below it. Add to that some of the worst fuel economy of the modern age, and you have a car that, on paper at least, was very difficult to love.
But in practice, the sheer ridiculousness of the Viper endeared it to TopGear and almost everyone who drove it, and secured it a place in the heart of the automotive community for nearly three decades; eventually, however, Dodge was forced to admit that the market for an 8.3L, V10 supercar was drying up. Certainly a bittersweet end to the Viper, but there’s one upside: if you still want one, there are a number of nearly-new examples floating around on the pre-owned market, provided you’re willing to pay close to MSRP.