The First Dodge Viper Was a Brutal Bargain

The Dodge Viper prototype was first tested in January 1989, and the first pre-production model served as the Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500. The 8-liter beast was ready for duty, hitting the scales at 711 pounds and producing 400 horsepower, not bad for a time when performance cars were choked under the grip of fuel economy regulations. The Viper was a hit, and orders poured in. It was, however, a brutal bargain. It didn’t even come with outside door handles, glass side windows, or a hard roof. Owners would have to unzip vinyl windows to open the Viper’s doors when the top and windows were in place. Not many cared about that, being unduly mesmerized by the fact that the Viper could go from zero to 100mph in a mere 15 seconds. The top speed of the car was a mind-blowing 160mph, while sticking to the road like pine sap in your hair. All one needed to do to be able to drive a Viper off the lot was cough up $50,700 average ($102,504 in today’s money). This was truly a genuine supercar that was within the financial reach of middle-aged, balding men yearning to relive their youth.