2017 Dodge Viper ACR – Dodge’s Coupe de Grace
After 2017, there will be no more Dodge Vipers. Nada. The fifth and final generation is undoubtedly the pinnacle of the slippery snake’s 25-year production run. We ran across this track/street monster at the Canepa Cars and Coffee back in August and finally got a chance to shoot it early one morning on the back streets of San Mateo. The more we went over the car, the more we grasped the ACR’s intense aero package.
Growing up in Stuttgart, Germany Gregor, the Viper’s owner, really had no choice when it came to the guiding forces of his life. Although Mercedes and Porsche’s headquarters were only a short drive from his home, he had an affinity for American cars. His first ride? A Dodge Neon SRT4 which he equipped with a stage II tune good for 300 front wheel drive horsepower.
Gregor’s infatuation with automotive excellence began very early, enhanced by Europe’s insatiable appetite for Formula 1. What the NFL is to American’s, F1 is to millions of impressionable European kids. Watching his favorite driver Lewis Hamilton rack up multiple championships undoubtedly accelerated Gregor’s path to the racetrack. While starting his career in automotive engineering, he raced a Lotus Exige in the Lotus Cup on weekends. He found success on the track, but we were particularly interested in this comment. “Of all the mods on that car, the seat made the most difference for me,” he said. “The race seat helped me feel the characteristics of the Lotus more than anything.” That stuck with him.
While working abroad in Japan last year, he ordered this car – a 2017 Dodge Viper ACR in Gunmetal Pearl. The Viper had always intrigued him mainly due to its track-ready characteristics while still being able to be driven almost anywhere (as long as parking lot exits are taken at an angle). Back to the Bay Area from Japan, he took delivery of the Viper in September ’16 from Fremont Chrysler Dodge. It was everything he envisioned and more. Once he slipped into the padded leather seat though, he knew his favorite mod would have to come first. He ordered and installed a Sparco Ergo race seat with 4-point Schroth racing belts instantly taking him back to his Lotus Cup days.
Being a weekend track enthusiast, he ordered the “Extreme Aero” factory option which equipped the snake with its giant adjustable dual element carbon-lipped rear wing (producing up to 2,000lbs of downforce at speed) as well as the aggressive front splitter extension and front fender canard wings. As you might imagine, he’s very careful when parking, keeping the front lip off the curb.
Power wise, we were blown away with the low-end torque of the 645hp, 8.4 liter V10. We rode along with Gregor as he went through the gears up El Camino Real, RPMs screaming. We were pinned to the seat with wide eyes, the g-forces quite impressive. Even with traction control turned on, the rear Kuhmo 355/30/R19 tires began to smoke and slide in a glorious display of brute power. We went from 100mph to 10mph on a dime thanks to the massive 15.4” carbon ceramic rotors with Brembo 6-piston calipers.
All those attributes along with the 10-setting, manually-adjustable suspension, 19×11 and 19×13-inch “Brass Monkey” wheels shod with sticky Kuhmo rubber make Gregor’s machine a terror at track days up at Thunderhill Raceway or down at Laguna Seca. This is, after all, the model that set lap records at 13 American racetracks including Laguna Seca (where it blew past a Porsche 918 Spyder), Road Atlanta, Virginia International Raceway and others.
With his Dodge Viper ACR, Gregor has never experienced any buyer’s remorse whatsoever, only a deepening connection between man and machine. To him, it was worth every penny plus it’s different from everything else out there. “Everyone has a Corvette,” Gregor said. The broad-shouldered Viper ACR will also hold its value too, surely becoming a collector car in future decades given this is the last of the production run. You can’t say that about many other American performance icons.
Here’s to the end of an era.