Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Viper ride

Although my ride aboard a Dodge Viper roadster, circa 2002 wasn’t nearly as dramatic as either Cindy Lutz’s: Bob Lutz’s daughter?) Drive aboard her Viper GTS-R or my Sinden 2X Seater ride around the Brickyard… Nevertheless, it’s not everyday you get to strap yourself into the confines of a Dodge Viper cockpit, eh?

And it was pretty funny how my ride came about as some “Serious Horse trading” went on in order to secure my ride aboard the vaunted Snake-mobile. You see, nearly a year had passed since we’d tried getting the ride in Minnesota, but inclement weather put the kibosh on the first attempt.

Calling up our gracious Viper owner the Friday evening prior to the big event, all systems were go for the following day. Yet in order to obtain my ride, Jefford had to agree to go “Kay-ackin’” with Viper pilot “Parker,” (No, not Parker Stevenson) this was Jeffery “White Shoes” Parker…

For the day in question, I noted that it was also the final day of a three day performance of the Seattle Symphony performing Carmina Barona at Benaroya Hall as well as Mike Malloy at Town Hall in Seattle. Yet, Viper rides trump all!

Arriving at Parker’s house Saturday afternoon, on a perfect mid-summer’s day, we were greeted to a pristine black Dodge Viper parked in the front driveway… SHEISA! What a FRILLING AWESOME Automobile…

Yet, as we admired the beautiful car, “Neighbor Jim” arrived with his 5yr old son Nicholas, who’d seen the car outside. So, we hung out a bit looking over all of Parker’s various toys, like the one of a kind Kubota Scooter he’s fabricated. As apparently Parker’s house is the block’s magnet for “Car Guys” to hang out and “Talk Smart.”

Then it was time to go, with Parker warming up the beast, warning me to watch my legs getting in and out of the monster, since Viper roadsters are notorious for the extremely hot exhaust pipes running down the length of the door sills!

The first thing that struck me, was how well built the car was, with a totalitarian type of build, no gaudy ornaments, nick-knacks, cup holders or do-dads, i.e.; spoilers, side skirts or gaudy hood decal motifs… No, just plain and simple leather bucket seats, clean dash and center console, normal seat belts and what I found to be superb fit ‘N finish for a Chrysler.

Even more amazing was the vacuum cleaner whoosh of an engine that was barely audible. Which is amazing given the girth of the massive 8.0 liter V-10 lump that propels the monster, as I noted that the only thing I could compare it to was the Audi R10 TDI’s for level of quietness!

And the truly amazing thing about this Viper roadster was that it was completely “Bone Stock,” with only a mere 450bhp on tap, stump pulling torque being transmitted to the pavement via a six speed manual transmission and 3.07:1 gearing.

Of course we had to drive with the top off, yet I was still amazed how quiet it was inside the cockpit while just cruising around town, as the Viper will simply lumber along all day long, hardly breaking a sweat until so commanded. As I asked Parker what we were pulling? Oh it’s stumbling along at 1,400RPM’s in 6th
Gear at 60mph.

Parker noted that the one flaw about driving the beast was that the humongous tires will hunt for any imperfection in the roads surface, yet this car has truly remarkable road hugging capabilities, as I was compressed into the back of the seat while we slalomed around a few of the various cloverleaf highway interchanges. As I noted that it was a strange sensation during our second cloverleaf, where I was being pushed backwards and sideways while listening to the tires squealing in protest!

I’m told that a fellow Minnesotan’s Ferrari 348 will actually out corner the Viper, yet obviously cannot keep up with it during straightaway acceleration tests…

Parker had wanted to romp on it for me earlier, but we’d been cut off by a yeh-hoo who’d almost missed the exit while gawking at the black beauty. And of course, venturing out onto the freeways during a Saturday afternoon isn’t ideal for high speed “Autobahn” runs as we were basically hemmed in whichever way we turned.

Yet we did manage one quick blast along one of the 10,000 bridges in Minnesota, as Parker launched the Snake, with the force of raw acceleration pinning me firmly rearwards into my seat.

Hurtling forwards up to fifth gear as the wind noise became obtrusive; I just sat giddily laughing, as all I saw out of the corner of my eye was a kaleidoscope of colours… “Vump- Vump- Vump- Vump- Vump!” As we blasted past a caravan of at least seven cars, all I saw were blobs of colour; blue, orange, green, red, white, etc. SHEISA!!! Those were cars that truly looked like telephone polls standing still! As my laughter bellowed, I was just recognizing what we’d done as Parker was already being forced to whoa the serpent back down to the “legal” speed limit as we’d caught up to traffic way to fast…

As Commander Cody sez;
Son, you’re gonna drive me to drinking, if you don’t stop driving that “Hot Rod” Lincoln!

Parker asked me to guess how fast we’d gone? Oh, I don’t know, at least 100? Well actually I’d just touched 125-130mph in 5th gear when I had to back off…

Then we exited the freeway and sedately drove back to the “Toy House,” in what had been a way too short ride! As it was time to put the beast away before getting into any trouble with “Minnesota’s Finest.”

Standing in the driveway with a goofy grin on my face, Jefford asked, “How was it?” (UH-DUH!!!) After remarking about how well the car sticks to the road, Jefford said, have you ever felt how big the rear tires are? With ridiculously oversized meats on all four corners, (335/xx 18 rears & 275/xx 18 fronts) as, I tried reaching my hand across the back tire after our most excellent outing and started laughing again as my arm soon disappeared underneath the rear fender…

All I can say is talk about your BAD ASSES! The Viper is just “Juan” mean ‘ol Nasty FUCKING AWESOME piece of machinery… As I duly noted that I WANT ONE!!!

(Apparently with Serbis Capital’s takeover of Chrysler fromDaimler-Benz, things aren’t going quite as good with reports of it being, “A year for Chrysler to forget.” Which apparently has impacted the hoped for debut of a factory backed onslaught of Vipers in the ALMS.)