The 1996 GTS is probably the coolest Dodge Viper ever built

Introduced back in 1992, the Dodge Viper remained on the market until 2017, with short breaks from 2006 to 2008 and 2010 to 2013. One of the coolest U.S.-built sports cars, the Viper was discontinued for good in 2017 due to poor sales but mostly because it was unable to comply with new safety regulations. But while the car is dead, the legend lives on and the Viper still enjoys a cult following.

Jay Leno is a big fan of the V-10-powered Dodge and owns not one, but two early Vipers. And he just showcased his 1996 Viper GTS, one of the first coupes built.

Jay Leno Drives the Awesome 1996 Dodge Viper GTS
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The Viper started life as a roadster for the 1992 model year, but Dodge eventually built a coupe for the second generation, launched in 1996. While the RT/10 roadster was appealing enough, the coupe layout took better advantage of the cars curvy design.

The bubble-top roof, the sloping rear window and the big, integrated spoiler turned the Viper GTS into an instant classic.

But the roof wasn’t the only update for 1996. The Viper retained the original 8.0-liter V-10 engine, but power increased to 450 horsepower and 490 pound-feet of torque.

Jay Leno Drives the Awesome 1996 Dodge Viper GTS
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1996 Dodge Viper GTS specifications
Engine 8.0-liter V-10
Horsepower 450 HP
Torque 490 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph 4.0 seconds
Top Speed 177 mph

That was an extra 35 horses and two pound-feet compared to the RT/10 roadster model. The 1996 GTS was the first Viper to be equipped with airbags and also included air conditioning, power windows, and power door locks as standard equipment.

Dodge built only 1,166 GTS Coupe units in 1996, while total production for the second-generation model came in at 10,422 examples (both GTS and RT/10 versions).

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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