Zero-mile Viper V-10 needs new home
You are looking at a unique opportunity: A zero-mile, first-gen Viper V-10 crate engine is up for sale. The engine, built as a factory replacement, was ordered by mistake in 1996. As the story goes, a dealership employee ordered a bottle of red touch-up paint but, as they transcribed the part number, miswrote a single digit. Instead of a bottle of paint, the dealer received a $10,000 Viper engine—and no Viper.
The dealership sold the engine to a customer, who had plans to swap the V-10 into a first-gen Dodge Dakota pickup. Once that plan fizzled, the powerplant made its way back to a dealership employee, who displayed it in their garage. The current owner, a long-time Viper fan, purchased the V-10 from that employee in 2021, with the idea of turning the engine into a coffee table or desk. Evidently, those plans were never realized.
Listed for sale on Bring a Trailer, the engine comes complete from the twin throttle bodies down to the oil pan with the factory accessory drive, which includes an alternator, A/C compressor, and power-steering pump. With its cast exhaust manifolds, starter, oil filter housing, clutch, and even engine mounts, the engine looks ready to drop into a first-gen Viper.
This 27-year-old engine is in a strange position—is it a collectible or a ready-to-use powerplant? The first-generation Viper V-10 was a game-changer. Dodge combined modern lightweight aluminum castings with a proven, simple pushrod design to create a hot-rodded small-block V-10 with 8.0 liters of displacement that could churn out 400 hp, an impressive output for the time. However, by 1996, when this engine was ordered, Dodge was already building a 450-hp version of the V-10, and bigger, more powerful iterations were in the pipeline. While it’s strange to say that a Viper V-10 was ever practical, the engine would have been a novel way to get a potent powerplant in a mid-’90s build. Today, however, 400-hp is a junkyard V-8 swap away: It’s tough to see this engine as a great swap candidate for most projects, because Viper V-10 parts are nowhere near as common as V-8 parts; Dodge didn’t make that many Vipers.
While 400 hp is not as impressive as it was when the Viper debuted in 1996, this engine wasn’t meant to be a coffee table or a desk. We’d love to see the V-10 bring life back to a first-gen Viper that’s been driven hard. Barring that—and perhaps because we’ve just seen Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny—the engine belongs in a museum where it can be put on display as a testament to Mopar’s ingenuity. We just hope the next owner won’t set their drink on it.