2020 Hagerty Bull Market selection: 1996-2002 Dodge Viper GTS

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Dodge Viper GTS Dean Smith

The 2020 Hagerty Bull Market list showcases the top vehicles that our valuation experts project will appreciate in the coming year. For the full list of 10 vehicles (and one motorcycle!) click here.

Back in 1988, in the deep K-car days at Chrysler, then president Bob Lutz, the owner of a real AC Cobra, dreamed of building a modern Cobra to give Dodge’s sleepy dealers a showroom magnet. But Lutz first had to sell it to chairman Lee Iacocca. He wisely enlisted Carroll Shelby, who was on Chrysler’s payroll as a “performance consultant,” to help seal the deal. Shelby reportedly did so by shouting at Iacocca, “You have got to do this. Trust me, it will be great!” And the Viper was born.

A lot of adjectives apply to the Dodge Viper, including flamboyant, loud, brutal, hot, and uncompromising. But one word will never be associated with Dodge’s V-10–powered retro sports car: boring.
A lot of adjectives apply to the Dodge Viper, including flamboyant, loud, brutal, hot, and uncompromising. But one word will never be associated with Dodge’s V-10–powered retro sports car: boring. Matt Tierney

The RT/10 roadster came first, arriving in 1992 with a 488-cubic-inch V-10 making 400 horsepower. Loud, lewd, and more intoxicating than anything else out of Detroit in decades, it was just what Lutz wanted. Every new model year brought more refinement, and in 1996, the second-generation Viper arrived with the option of the GTS coupe. Now belting out 450 horsepower, the coupe and its styling paid fitting tribute to the Daytona Cobra coupes of 1965. The GTS was vastly different from the RT/10, with luxuries such as power windows, air conditioning, and doors that really locked. It was a real car rather than a novelty. Sure, the side windows would pop out at high speeds, and the car was far from perfect in many other ways, but owners loved every minute of it.

Hitting the track in Hagerty members Jamie and Paula Fillow’s pristine 1997 brings back a flood of great memories. With steamroller tires and boundless torque, a Viper is quite easy to hustle around, especially on a smooth surface. It’s part Batmobile and part NASCAR road-course car, and simply a riot. The car’s looks have proven timeless, which is how Jamie ended up with this GTS nine years ago. “I was looking for a Corvette but stumbled on this Viper and loved the way it looked. And I still do!” Just one of the reasons we, too, think now is the time to buy. Vipers are fast, easy to live with, their looks still stop folks in their tracks, and let’s not forget the bonus Shelby connection. That’s a lot of boxes checked for not a lot of money. For now.

[+] Instantly recognizable concept-car look; huge performance; great club support; a supercar with pickup-truck durability.

[–] Ergonomics only slightly worse than those of a 1940s Coney Island bumper car; body and trim parts becoming hard to find; many have been modified or wrecked.

Dodge Viper GTS
Dean Smith

1997 DODGE VIPER GTS

Engine: V-10, 7990 cc
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power: 450 hp @ 5200 rpm
Torque: 490 lb-ft @ 3700 rpm
Weight: 3400 lb
Power-to-weight: 7.6 lb/hp
Brakes F/R: disc/disc
Price when new: $66,000
Hagerty value: $47,800–$55,900

THE HAGERTY VALUATION TEAM SAYS:

Generation Xers and millennials are now 64 percent of the quotes on this car. The Viper has a reputation for being crude and uncompromising, but it’s a driver’s car and a visceral experience. The outlandish design has aged well, and attrition has worked in the Viper’s favor, meaning there aren’t a lot of good ones left. The early cars are now seen as desirable.

Dodge Viper GTS
Dean Smith
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