As if the standard Dodge Viper wasn’t mean enough, Dodge has developed an even faster, better-handling version of America’s most powerful sports car. It’s called the Viper ACR — American Club Racer. And nothing you have ever experienced in an automobile can equal what you’ll see, hear and feel behind the wheel of this very venomous snake.
Dodge engineers extracted 10 extra ponies and better response from the massive 8.0-liter, V-10 engine just by changing the air filter from the stock setup to a less restrictive unit made by K&N.
The Viper’s raspy engine is far and away the most powerful automobile engine I have ever experienced. Though I have driven cars with more horsepower, such as a Lamborghini Diablo, not one has had the massive thrust of the Viper.
Press the accelerator and the Viper strikes. In the blink of an eye, you’re knocked back in the seat and headed to 60 mph. Because the V-10 has so much power, the engine doesn’t need to be revved high for awesome performance. I rarely saw the tachometer needle cross into the 5,000 rpm range.
The Viper comes only with a six-speed manual transmission. The clutch pedal takes quite a bit of muscle to press, and the clutch is either in or out. There isn’t much in between, so you have to be prepared to move once you let the clutch pedal up.
The ACR has high-performance adjustable Koni racing shocks, special springs, one-piece aluminum wheels made by BBS and the best street tire Michelin makes. All these things help keep the Viper ACR under control when the speed picks up and the corners come quickly.
Because of the Viper’s low center of gravity, the car is nearly impossible to flip over. About the worst that could happen is that the rear end could get loose and the car could slide while cornering. But an experienced driver who knows how to manage the accelerator, shifter and brakes will find that the Viper is an easy car to drive safely at triple digit speeds.
The V-10 engine generates an enormous amount of heat, much of which travels into the cockpit and leaves you with a just-emerged-from-a-sauna feeling. You drive down the road with the vent open and the fan running at full blast, but hot air from the engine gets sucked into the vent at
speeds lower than 30 mph.