WHEN Dodge unveiled the very first Viper back in 1991, motoring fans said: “Build it and we’ll buy it!” And when they see the latest creation, the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR, we reckon there will be plenty saying: “Shut up and take our money!”
The original Viper was so raw and visceral that it struck a chord with the public despite the fact that it had a massive eight-litre V10 engine and only two seats; it was also devoid of a roof, air conditioning and side windows. It had 400hp and a top speed of 180mph, giving Dodge, and the Chrysler brand at large, a hero car worthy of adulation.
Successive generations of the breed have seen even more horsepower, combined with the air conditioning and other niceties that the buying public have come to expect from high-priced sports cars. Hardtop versions appeared later, as did side windows, but over five generations that now-familiar V10 roar remained.
As the Viper started to develop a track heritage, the demand came for an even lighter stripped-out version with more horsepower, and the Viper ACR was born. Based on the second-generation coupe, the first Viper ACR sported 460hp and was over 60lb lighter than the standard coupe, after the removal of the stereo system and fog lamps and the introduction of lighter adjustable race suspension. Technically street-legal, most of the ACRs were snapped up by those wanting to race a Viper without having to strip out their street rides. The ACR enjoyed quite a bit of success around Europe, America and even Australia competing in the Nations Cup and GT3 championships.
The latest ACR looks ready to hit World Time Attack without even needing to visit a workshop first. Externally there are more spoilers and diffusers than a jet fighter, while underneath the American dream machine rides on fully adjustable suspension with massive carbon-fibre brakes and 19in tyres designed especially for this car by Kumho.
Power is prodigious, with 645hp and 600lb-ft of torque from an all-aluminium 8.4-litre V10. It also features a five-mode Electronic Stability Control system (Full-on, Sport, Track, Rain, Full-off modes) specifically tuned to take into account the extra grip offered by the extreme aerodynamic and tyre package. With 50/50 weight distribution and over 2000lb of downforce at 177mph, the Dodge Viper ACR represents the pinnacle of track and street performance.
Yes, we said street performance. Because despite all the obviously track-oriented goodies, this machine will be street-legal. It’s got all the conveniences you’d expect from a modern car, and unlike earlier versions of the ACR, this one does get a stereo system, albeit one with just three speakers to save weight.
So, what’s it going to cost? No word on price just yet, but with the 2015 Dodge Viper GTS starting at $107, 995, we reckon you can add a few dollars to that figure. They won’t be cheap, but considering the competition they’ll be a steal.