Back in the 60s, muscle cars were everywhere. But today, true muscle cars are few and far between. And the few that we do have, like the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10, must live up to a formidable reputation. Of course, the Viper is already renowned as one of the brawniest beasts to ever burn rubber. So what do the folks at Dodge do to make it even more popular? Why, add more muscle, of course!
A street corner philosopher once stated that “vice is nice, but excess is best.” If so, then the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 can be considered to be a speed junkie’s favorite vice. One that succeeds, because of its excess.
And in the Viper, whether it’s the SRT10 Roadster or Coupe, that excess is all under the hood. Now boasting a larger 8.4-liter pushrod V10, these deadlier snakes punch out 600 horsepower, and 560 pound-feet of torque. That 90 horse increase comes not just from more displacement. A stronger block is crowned with new heads with bigger valves and variable valve timing, all connected to a more efficient intake and exhaust.
It all hammers through a beefed up Tremec 6-speed manual, and compact twin-disc clutch, down to a new speed sensing limited slip differential.
The wheels are still 18-inch front and 19-inch rear alloys but are now available in three different styles with tire pressure monitoring. They help launch the Viper like a reptilian rocket! On a 95 degree day it took us only 3.9 seconds to blast past 60, while the quarter-mile flashed by in 11.9 seconds at 123 miles-per-hour!
Mind you, the Viper takes finesse to launch properly, as we did not come by these numbers without a lot of effort. Drop the hammer at 3,000 rpm, and smoke pours from the rear wheels as the big 345-tires fight for grip.
Torque output builds rapidly, maxing out at 5,000 revs. Shifts are short and precise, while the long travel clutch pedal delivers plenty of feel.
It’s a real kick in the pants, accompanied by a muscle car rumble that only big American iron can produce.
The handling is also impressive, thanks to a lightweight double A-arm suspension and coil-over shocks. But this is a Viper, so while it turns in quickly with minimal front plow, there are no electronic aids to help you recover from a mistake. A hair too much throttle can snap the tail loose without warning.
Stay smooth on the gas pedal however, and that huge V-10 torque rockets the Viper out of tight corners.
Mid-corner bumps will upset the stiff chassis/suspension combination, but the quick rack-and-pinion steering keeps you well informed of everything that the front tires are doing.
Once you get the feel for throttle and suspension you can then easily drive the Viper with your right foot, sliding the tail to point the car, and having the time of your life.
And when it’s time for the fun to end, huge 14-inch brake discs and Brembo calipers hammer the big snake down from 60 in only 109 feet. These are world class brakes that would be perfectly at home on a pure-bred race car.
And for 2008, the Viper looks more like a race car than ever before. Adding to the Viper’s threatening look is a new hood with enlarged, more efficient, air scoop and cooling louvers.
Supplement all that with five new paint colors and four new interior color combinations and there’s now a snake to satisfy any horsepower junkie you know.
But they better be trim horsepower junkies, because the simple, race inspired cockpit is as tight as a spandex t-shirt, with narrow, close fitting leather and faux-suede covered sport seats that hold you fast in hard corners.
The Viper pioneered adjustable pedals in a production car, and the standard power setup allows for a wide range of driver heights.
Luxury touches are few, though 2008 does see the addition of an optional navigation system and Sirius satellite radio.
But you don’t buy a Viper for luxury. And you certainly don’t buy one unless you have $83,995 for the Roadster and $84,745 for the Coupe.
High mileage vehicles may be in vogue these days, but the horsepower wars go on. And no horsepower warrior is more venomous than the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10.
The Viper is still the baddest muscle car on the American block. It may be rude, crude, and politically incorrect, but taming it is a guaranteed thrill.
Sport Engine: 8.4-Liter Pushrod V10
Torque: 560 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 3.9 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 11.9 Seconds @ 123 MPH
60-0 MPH: 109 Feet