1996 Dodge Viper GTS
Dodge is one of the big brand names of the American automobile industry. Founded by the Dodge brothers (Horace Elgin Dodge and John Francis Dodge) in the early 1900s, Dodge Brothers Company was established as a machine shop that supplied parts and assemblies to other car manufacturers in Detroit. The business was very successful and it quickly expanded to build cars under its own brand in 1914. Both Horace and John Dodge died from the Spanish flu in 1920 and the company was sold by their families to Dillon, Read & Co in 1925 before being sold to Chrysler in 1928.
Dodge remained under Chrysler’s ownership until 2014, even though its parent company went through multiple changes of ownership.
The Dodge brand was synonymous with American family sedans and trucks, though their foray into building sporting cars was quite successful. The Dodge Charger, first introduced in 1966, went onto become an American icon and in top spec was one of the most successful muscle cars of that era. Perhaps the best-known Dodge Charger is the General Lee, which featured in the hit TV series The Dukes of Hazzard.
In 1987 Chrysler purchased Lamborghini and they wanted to leverage the Italian supercar manufacturers’ experience to build a new American sports car. A concept car was shown at the 1989 Detroit Motor Show and the response to it was so overwhelming that the car was then earmarked for production. Chrysler decided to sell the car as a Dodge and the Dodge Viper was born. Powered by a V10 engine developed by Lamborghini, the first Dodge Viper rolled off the production line in January 1992. Built with a fibreglass body the Viper weighed in at under 1500 kg and with its potent V10 engine developing 400 hp and in excess of 600 nm of torque – it was a fast car! Interestingly, the first series were only built as a roadster. The Viper was quoted as having a top speed of just under 270 km/hr with acceleration to match . . . 0-100 km/hr in just over 4 seconds, 0-160 km/hr in just over 9 seconds and a standing quarter mile in 12.6 seconds.
The Dodge Viper was an outstanding success and the car evolved over four variations throughout eighteen and a half years of production. The SR1 was built from 1991 – 1995, the SR2 from 1996-2002, the ZB1 from 2003-2007 and the ZB2 from 2008-2010. Interestingly, the Viper was reintroduced in 2013 but sales were poor and the car was finally discontinued in 2017. It is not known exactly how many Vipers were built, however, it is agreed that total production was just under 32,000 cars, comprising (approximately) 6,700 SR1’s, 10,400 SR2’s, 8,200 ZB1’s, 2,800 ZB2’s and 3,700 VX’s. Big numbers compared to Italian supercars, but to put this into perspective Chevrolet built an average of 28,000 Corvettes per year throughout Viper production!
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a 1996 Dodge Viper RT/10 GTS Coupe. The Viper GTS was introduced in 1996 and it was a new coupe version of the Viper RT/10. This model was essentially a ‘new car’ despite its similar looks (to its predecessor). Dubbed the ‘double bubble’, the roof featured slightly raised sections that looked like bubbles to accommodate the usage of helmets and taking design cues from the Shelby Daytona. The GTS was powered by the same 7,990cc V10 engine but power was increased to 450 hp at 5,200 rpm and 664 nm of torque at 3,700 rpm. The 1996 GTS would be the first Viper to be equipped with airbags and also included air conditioning, power windows and power door locks as standard equipment. The Viper GTS was chosen as the pace car for the 1996 Indianapolis 500.
The car’s ID tag confirms it was completed on the 9th December 1996 and the paint code is noted as PBE which is ‘Viper GTS blue’. It is understood to be 1 of only 1,166 Dodge Viper GTS’ built in 1996.
The car’s early history is not known; however, it was acquired in California in the USA in early 1998. There is an Import Approval on file dated 3rd July 1998. The car received an import approval under the Conditional – Test Vehicle Used Import option. The car was subsequently imported into Australia and given to Viperformance in Melbourne, an offshoot of The 911 Factory, for compliance. As part of the compliance process the car was converted to right hand drive. Interestingly, Viperformance was the only recognized and approved company by Daimler/Chrysler outside of the US to perform this conversion. The process was arduous and the car was finally completed in April 2002. The car’s then owner was extremely tall and whilst he could fit in the car he found it difficult to get in and out of and subsequently sold it. The car came to Queensland and it was sold through Heritage Wholesale to its current owner in April 2006. At that time the odometer was 9,884 km. In 15 years of ownership the current owner has used the car sparingly and today the odometer reads 11,347 km.
It is important to note that the reading on the odometer is most likely to be the total mileage travelled for the car. Viperformance confirmed that when they install a km/hr speedometer they set the odometer at the converted mileage from the original odometer.
Today this car presents and drives exceptionally well. Viper blue with white stripes is a perfect colour scheme for a Dodge Viper and particularly a GTS with the ‘double bubble’ roof. Overall, the paint presents exceptionally well. You will note from the photographs a slight discolouration to the white stripes and surrounding blue paint at the very front of the car, which is most likely caused by heat. There are a few nicks and scrapes to the underside of the front spoiler and also some minor damage to the inside of the right rear guard. Apart from these small defects the paint remains excellent and it has preserved exceptionally well with virtually no stone chips evident. The blue is particularly vibrant with a strong depth of colour. All of the external trim and the glass is in excellent condition.
Inside the cabin the interior remains in very good condition. The black leather remains subtle and there are no splits, rips or tears to the seats, door cards or the centre console. The dash, instruments and controls are all in excellent condition.
It may be easier to solve a rubiks cube than open the bonnet on a Dodge Viper, but once you do, the giant clam opens forward to reveal the thumping V10 engine finished in matte red. The engine bay on this car is very clean and well kept. The glass rear hatch opens to reveal a clean, tidy boot and the space saver spare wheel is present and unused.
Slip in behind the steering wheel of the Viper and first impressions are positive. The driving position is comfortable and the instruments and controls are readily accessible. It was with great anticipation that we start the fire breathing V10 engine. Note to oneself – you must depress the clutch to start the car . . . you turn the key and the car starts first time. The engine makes a ‘good noise’ but it’s more refined than one would expect. You hit the road and the car is surprisingly easy to drive, very easy in fact . . . and dare we say civilized! You quickly get the chance to put your foot down and the car takes off like a scalded cat! Make no mistake this is a fast car. On our test drive the car performed exceptionally well. It did everything one would expect and did it well.
This fully compliant, right hand drive Dodge Viper GTS is a rare car in this country and it presents a unique opportunity compared to its peers. It is a stunning car and we love the TVR-esque styling that gives the car a very aggressive look.
- Desirable 1996 model Viper GTS.
- Finished in the most stunning colour of ‘Viper GTS blue’ with white stripes.
- Originally a USA delivered car.
- Imported into Australia in 1998.
- Australian compliance and converted to right hand drive.
- The odometer shows only 11,347km.
- A very well-presented car that is ‘just fabulous’ to drive.
This 1996 Dodge Viper GTS is a ‘modern classic’. With its Lamborghini designed V10 engine up front coupled with the 6 speed manual Tremec gearbox it is still a traditional driver’s car. It’s a beast!
- Dodge Viper GTS
- 11,347 km