Many folks not familiar with the motorsports scene are often puzzled when they hear automakers talk about how their racing programs help them build better street cars, and for good reason. Take Winston Cup cars. They may be called Tauruses and Monte Carlos, but they aren’t anything like the ones we drive on the street. Well, now Dodge is making the same reference to its new Viper ACR. But in this case, after you take a spin through the twisties with us, you’ll understand exactly what they’re talking about. Because unlike many cars that boast of race-developed performance, the Dodge Viper ACR is a real race car.
ACR stands for American Club Racer, a limited-edition package that turns the standard Viper GTS street car into an out-of-the-box competition machine. Not really a new idea for Dodge, which has already built over 6,000 of the very successful Neon ACR for club racers all over America. But this ACR is no Neon! The Viper ACR is an offshoot of the racing program that developed the multi-championship winning Viper GTSR.
To earn its ACR badge, the Viper GTS sheds 90 pounds, primarily thanks to the removal of the stereo, air conditioning system and fog lamps, and swapping the standard 18-inch wheels, for lightweight one-piece units from BBS, that mount Michelin Pilot Sport tires.
While under the hood, smooth intake hoses, and a high flow air filter from K&N add an extra 10-horsepower to the 8.0-liter V10 engine’s output, which now stands at 460 horsepower and 490 pound-feet of torque. All fed through the same beefy 6-speed manual gearbox used in all Vipers.
Inside, the already Spartan, highly focused Viper cockpit needs few changes. Only the addition of a 5-point racing harness, to hold our drivers in place during serious track testing. Which was conducted at a serious race track, the fast Roebling Road Raceway road course, outside Savannah, Georgia.
Straight line acceleration is how we always begin a track evaluation, with the ACR hitting 60 in 4.0-seconds flat, 6/10ths of a second quicker than the last GTS we tested. The 1/4 mile rocketed by in 12.1-seconds at 121 miles-per-hour.
As always, the Viper’s massive torque requires very smooth throttle action. Punch our test car’s sensitive throttle too hard too soon coming out of a corner, and the rear wheels will quickly overtake those up front. Fortunately, the ACR boasts excellent steering feel, and the smoothest clutch and gearbox of any Viper so far.
To get through corners more quickly, Dodge equipped the ACR with lightweight aluminum shocks from Dynamic Suspensions, and high-rate Meritor springs. Which along with the new wheels and tires delivered increased grip, especially at midcorner, and on the exits. On corner entry, however, the ACR manifested a noticeable increase in understeer, possibly due to unusually low winter track temperatures at Roebling.
Off track, the Viper ACR proved to be surprisingly comfortable for a race car. We drove it 1300 miles round trip and found while the ride is firmer, it’s never tiring. But we do recommend that you avoid potholes unless you have a good dental plan.
Chrysler plans to build no more than 500 Viper ACRs this year. So if you want to go for the gold, we suggest that you get your order in now. The price is $80,425. That’s $10,000 more than the regular Viper GTS. But that’s hardly a significant premium for a competition car of this caliber.
So, if you have dreams of racing glory, or just want to tear up the occasional rented track day, we can’t dream of a better way to spend your money. Forget race on Sunday, sell on Monday! The 2000 Dodge Viper ACR is one track-ready, street-legal race car, that you can race all week long!
Engine: 8.0-Liter V10
Torque: 490 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 4.0 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 12.1 Seconds @ 121 MPH