Author Archive

We Love All Three …

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010, Viper Lifestyles

By Jack LoVerde

This is my 1996 Dodge Viper RT/10 that I purchased seven years ago. I’ve put a few bucks in it with red inserts in the seats, Eibach suspension, powder-coated red calipers, custom exhaust and those 3-piece Forgiato wheels wrapped in Pirelli tires. I absolutely love the Viper and hope to never part with it—unless I get a new ACR. My other car is a 2001 Plymouth Prowler and my wife drives a 2005 Chrysler 300C, which we bought new.

We love all three—a Chrysler, Plymouth and Dodge. Now I’d like to get that new ACR, if I only had the garage space.

Viper Weddings

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009, Viper Lifestyles

Northern California VCA members Donita and Robert Granado tied the knot on April 24, 2010. Of course, being Viper club members, their wedding wouldn’t be complete without some Vipers and Viper friends! As Terri Angen said, “That’s true love—letting someone sit on your Viper!”


International Viper Registry (IVR) founder Jay Herbert tied the knot recently with Elaine Wang of Sunnyvale, Calif. Coincidentally, the ceremony was held at the Blackhawk (auto) Museum in Danville, Calif., where Maurice Liang held the first IVR gathering in Northern California in 1994.

Old Friends Reunite at Car Show—Viper Wins the Crowd

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010, Viper Lifestyles

By Brian Kroger

Last summer an old friend from high school, Dave, got in touch with me for the first time in 34-years. After talking, we found we shared an interest in performance cars and Dave owns a rare 850 Series BMW V12. We ended up taking our rides to a local car show. Now, I’m not really into showing my Viper at shows, but he talked me into it.

So Dave breaks the ice with the comment, “I have a V12, got you beat.” I laughed and started talking about our rides. Both rides got a lot of attention
at the show. I never had such a wonderful time with an old friend. As we were about to leave the word Viper came over the loud speaker. With Dave telling me, “I think you won something.” As it turns out, my ’98 Viper RT/10 won favorite of show. What a nice bonus to a great day with an old friend. Dave
took the picture of our rides just before we left.

Like Son, Like Father

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010, Viper Lifestyles

By Rich Berube

It all started in 1993 when my son Darren saw his first Dodge Viper in a magazine. He was hooked. When the 1996 GTS came out his room was filled with posters and model cars. Of course, he chose the GTS in blue with the white stripes. At that point in his life he made a decision that he would one day own a 1996 Dodge Viper GTS.

As a junior in high school, he purchased my old Toyota pickup. He had the option to buy a sportier ride, but chose not to do so. He graduated from college and took a job in the Dallas area. During this time I had come across a great deal on a Pontiac Trans Am but he did not budge and kept saving his money. In May of 2004, he called and said he had found a car in Amarillo, Texas. It was owned by a doctor and had a little over 8,700 miles on it. And yes it was a 1996 GTS, blue with white stripes. He and a friend went to look at the car. It was exactly what he wanted and he drove it home.

The following weekend was Mother’s Day and he drove the car to Wichita. Wow, what a ride. We took the GTS for a spin and I was immediately hooked. There is nothing like a Viper. The torque is awesome. I was currently driving a supercharged Dodge Dakota and knew that it had to go. My search started immediately. It took several months, but in July I found my own Viper on the Internet. It is a 1999 Silver GTS. My son has kept his GTS stock but I am a performance nut and had a Roe Supercharger installed. WOW!

We are having a blast with the cars. No trailer queens here. They are driven often. Like son, like father. What can I say, we both love our Vipers!

X Decode Development of the ACR-X Engine

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010

Story by Roger Meiners

Dick Winkles of Dodge Viper engine engineering gave us the inside scoop on the new Viper ACR-X engine—how it got the extra 40 horsepower. It was more than just a hot-rod job.

The first batch of engines, twenty-five in all, was built on the line at Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, with a few significant changes for racing.

First, engineering eliminated the A/C compressor and the A/C unit from the car for weight and engine cooling considerations, which required a new, shorter serpentine belt. The Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) system was also eliminated. This was a late change because the ACR-X’s high braking and cornering forces with slicks upset the system.

“It was next to impossible to control the oil pullover. So we ended up getting rid of the PCV and moving the breather. We have two breather hoses that are high and centered in the covers,” said Winkles.

Next, engineering substituted a forged piston for the cast piston while compression ratio remained at 10.2:1. “We worked very hard to get a forged piston that worked as well as the production-cast piston. We tried several of the aftermarket pistons, and they were down 20 horsepower from where we were (with the production cast piston) at the same compression ratio. We worked with Mahle, who is our production supplier. They had a forged piston that they offered for this engine, but it was a fairly old design, and it, too, was down a significant amount from their cast piston. We worked with them to come up with a more modern design, and it’s only down slightly from the stock-cast piston, which is pretty good. So we were willing to accept that slight loss of power in exchange for the strength that we would get under severe race conditions. It was a lengthy process to get what we wanted.”

“We were going to port the intake, too,” said Winkles, “but it would have been expensive, and we really didn’t need to do it, so we left it stock. The car is already very, very fast—640 horsepower is probably enough!”

These are the only differences from the production engine as they are built at Conner, according to Winkles.

The other big difference in the ACR-X is exhaust headers. The Viper team added 5-into-1 American Racing headers. They are a new supplier. Winkles explained, “Our first thought was to go with the tried and true tri-Y system, but we found that the 5-into-1 configuration outperformed it across the engine speed range. They were lower cost, and we got on-time delivery—an all-around better product for our customers.”

Catalysts and downstream O2 sensors were removed. Winkles estimated that change netted 20 horsepower while the headers and a revised engine fuel and ?spark calibration accounted for the other 20 horsepower gained over the production ?600 horses.

The engine calibration was also customized specifically for race track use. One of the major items was desensitizing certain OBD (On Board Diagnostic) monitors for racing. For example, Chrysler Group LLC has a system that senses the throttle opening and the brake pedal state. If the driver is on both pedals at the same time, depending on the engine speed and airflow, the system will give the driver a certain amount of time in that condition and then limits the engine torque and speed to prevent a possible run-away condition. “We had been running the stock OBD calibration on the car for some time, and it was fine,” said Winkles, “but when we tested at Texas World Speedway with Kuno Wittmer driving, we experienced a problem. At that particular track, he was doing a little more left-foot braking, so a couple of times he came by the pits and radioed in that the car was just ‘laying down, it won’t run.’ We would tell him to come in and then he’d radio back that it’s ?OK now (because the system times back out and gives you another shot). So this went on for a couple of laps, and we finally told him to come in anyway. We checked the data logger, and a throttle pedal/brake pedal rationality fault was showing up. We looked at the data and saw that he was left-foot braking while still on the gas for just a little more time that the system allowed. There are going to be some tracks where some drivers do that, so we opened that monitor up a little [the time allowed before shut down].”

Winkles also revised a few more parameters—the misfire monitor. “It’s more sensitive than it needs to be for a race car so we desensitized that,” he said. In the end, quite a number of OBD monitors were adjusted, actually. “It’s really kind of a race calibration that goes into the car,” said Winkles. It took a lot of time. The engineers did five test sessions: California (Laguna Seca), Florida (Palm Beach and Sebring), and Texas (Texas World and Texas Motorsports Ranch). And it took right to the end to get everything the way Winkles wanted.

All engines were run on the dynamometer so that the owners could take the cars right to the track with no worries. After run-in, engines were sealed—valve covers, intake, oil pan and front cover. Technicians also analyzed oil samples from each engine to verify that there were no issues.

The entire process took from early October 2009—when Ralph Gilles gave the go-ahead for the project—through the time of the unveiling at Laguna Seca in November 2009, and development continued until the Texas tests in late February and early March 2010. This was a very fast program, for a very fast car.

Twenty-five more engines are scheduled for the end of the model run.

Viper Exhibit at Walter P. Chrysler Museum

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010

Story by Maurice Q. Liang

See Viper history in 3D this summer

at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in

Auburn Hills, Mich. The Museum is

pulling several milestone Vipers out

of their vault to create a special Viper

exhibit; Born to Race: Dodge Viper

Racing Heritage. The Vipers the Museum

is exhibiting include:

  • 1989 Viper Concept Car
  • ?

  • 1991 Viper RT/10
  • ?

  • 1996 Viper GTS C
  • ?

  • 1997 Viper Le Mans Winner C-7
  • ?

  • 1998 Viper GT-2
  • ?

  • 2000 Viper GTS/R Concept
  • ?

  • 2000 Viper GTS/R
  • ?

This is the first time in the museum’s history that all these Vipers will be on exhibit at the same time. Each vehicle is displayed with a historical timeline and highlight signs detailing each vehicle. The stars of the show are several versions of the Dodge Viper GTS/R, which was introduced in 1996. A total of 57 of these elite vehicles were manufactured over the next eight years.

Because the Dodge brand was not sold in Europe, the GTS/R was badged as a Chrysler.  Versions raced in the United States were listed as Dodge Vipers. The cars went on to win many prestigious motorsports events throughout the world.

While Chrysler ended its official backing in 2001, the GTS/R continued racing well into 2007 with much success. According to the Museum, “The Dodge Viper GTS/R will go down as one of the most successful factory-backed racing vehicles in history.”

If you’re in the Detroit area this summer, be sure to stop by the Museum and check out this special exhibit. The exhibit will run through Sept. 5. For information about the museum, visit www.wpchryslermuseum.org.

Tech Notes

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010, Tech Notes

By Herb Helbig, Chief Engineer—Viper (Retired)

Q: ?In the Fall 2009 issue of VIPER Magazine, on page 17, there is an article about a 67 mm BBK throttle body for 2003–2006 Viper engines (62 mm being the factory size). Have you had ?any experience with this throttle body? Is the horsepower increase of “10 hp on average” plausible?

A: I have had no experience with the BBK product. As mentioned earlier, we never had time to rigorously test aftermarket parts. I discussed this product with my SRT® engine expert and he was skeptical about the horsepower increase.


Q: I have an extremely well-maintained 2000 GTS Steel Gray with silver stripes. Recently I decided to feature it in the World of Wheels Show, so I had it spruced up even more. I took the vehicle to a body shop to have my lower front bumper touched up and the rest of the car polished and buffed. The next morning I went to pick it up and the engine was knocking like hell. The shop owner had no idea what had happened—so he says! I took the car into a local Dodge dealer where they pulled the pan and found a broken piston, bent rod and maybe two more bad cylinders. Needless to say, everyone is in agreement that someone drove or over-revved the hell out of my engine. I contacted several companies and everyone agrees with this conclusion. I took the matter to my insurance company to battle for me, as I pay enough for the damn insurance. I informed them that the car is always well-maintained, never in the rain and I don’t race it—that type of damage can only be caused by abuse. Perhaps some kid at the body shop ruined the engine; as I don’t believe the owner who I gave the keys to would perform a buffing and polishing job himself. Do you feel this type of engine damage is most likely caused from abuse and/or negligence, and not a maintenance issue? Would an engine oil analysis shed light on how the engine was running long before the body shop arrival (as long as the engine oil was in the crankcase for a required mileage for the analysis test)? Please offer your insights on this subject. Thank you very much!

A: Certainly a grim situation to say the least. The damage you describe is typical of abuse. Since you mention that the car is well-maintained, I’ll assume the oil level was at the full mark, lending further evidence supporting abuse. The oil is probably contaminated with metallic debris, but if it were analyzed it might show that it was in basically good shape with its additive package intact—further evidence supporting your theory.


Q: I have a question regarding my 2008 Viper odometer. I recently took the vehicle to my Pennsylvania Inspection Station and repair garage—the odometer read 857 miles on delivery—when I picked up my Viper the odometer read 339,957 miles. The only other service they provided, other than vehicle inspection, was to add two key fobs. Any thoughts on what happened here?

A: It’s difficult to say what might have happened without knowing exactly what the inspection station did during their checks. If they connected some kind of diagnostic equipment to the car it might have triggered some kind of reaction that led to the odometer problem. I would say it’s a long shot but with electronics, you never know.


Q: I own a 1994 Viper and I am having trouble with it overheating. We have replaced the coolant and water in the radiator, and bled the system from the heater tap; however, the vehicle still throws water/coolant out of the expansion tank. Do you have any ideas as to what this problem may be? Any information would be great.

A: The first thing I’d try is refilling the system. You need to fill the system through the heater core but the engine has to be fully warmed up so the thermostat is open. Don’t forget to relieve the system pressure before you pull any hoses. If you still have trouble, the radiator may need to be pulled and professionally flushed.


Q: Why is rainwater an issue for Vipers and other collector cars? Even the new Hurst edition Viper that was featured in VIPER Magazine’s fall 2009 issue notes that the car left the show in a hurry, “… as a thunderstorm forced its early exit …” Is it perhaps impurities in the rain? Not necessarily acid rain, but something otherwise damaging? In other words, what’s worse about a rain shower compared to a car wash in the driveway with tap water from a garden hose? I don’t drink either one these days but I’m having trouble understanding why a rainy day would be any worse than a gentle car wash?

A: There is no problem with your Viper’s paint/finish and the rain—rainwater poses no problem. When cleaning the exterior, use good quality car soap along with your tap water (softened if possible) and you should be fine. Regarding the Hurst Viper story, I was there at Carlisle when that car along with many others left before the storm. The weather report had severe thunderstorm warnings up with the threat of hail probable. That’s what got everyone moving, the sky looked awful. Shortly thereafter it poured.

Your technical questions are always welcome. Please remember to indicate the body style, model year and mileage for your Viper.

Tech Notes Editor
VIPER Magazine
PO Box 24425
Shawnee Mission, KS  66283
E-mail: [email protected]
Fax: (248) 499-1950
 

Venom Club

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010

Thanks to these VCA members who have provided the club with additional financial support through their Venom memberships. Members are listed by their identification number which also depicts seniority with the Venom Club (largest number being the newest member). For more information on a Venom membership, call Viper Headquarters at (800) 998-1110 or e-mail [email protected]

To view the Vemon Club VCA members download the following pdf.

VCA Members Venom Membership – PDF

The Warrior Lives

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010

Story and Photos by Maurice Q. Liang

The bright red #51 Viper GTS/R thundered around the track at Infineon Raceway, re-living its days of glory. Ten years ago, this car dominated the tracks around the world as the #91 car at American Le Mans Series (ALMS) races and the #51 car at FIA races, winning the GTS class at the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans in France and 12 hours of Sebring. It was part of a 3-car factory-backed team in 2000, fielded by Team ORECA. This car posted ten class victories, two second-place finishes and one fourth-place finish, winning the 2000 ALMS GTS championship along with the driver’s and factory championships as well. The car also posted class wins against Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche in the international FIA series.

After Dodge ended their Viper racing program, the #51 Viper was sold off to a race team in the UK, which continued to campaign the car at various FIA and ALMS races for a few more years. After that, it was sold to a private owner in France, who had it restored to #91 ALMS livery. A few years ago, the car was sent to California to be sold, but when there didn’t seem to be any interest, it was almost returned to France. That’s when current owner, Victor Preisler came to the rescue.

Victor Preisler loves race cars, especially ones with significant race history. He’s owned the Sebring and Daytona-winning 1962 Gulf Oil Corvette, a 1960 Corvette Sebring winner, and a 1957 Ferrari that won at Nassau, Bahamas. Victor tells us, “My friend Richard Freshman, historian and proprietor of Fossil Motorsports Inc., was at a consignment dealer inspecting a Ferrari for another client and noticed the GTS/R nearby. He was told that the Viper belonged to a European friend of the dealer and had been sent here to be sold. Since there was no significant interest in the car, it was going to be sent back the next day. Richard quickly called me, and after we confirmed the history of the car, and arranged for an inspection, I flew up the next day and bought it.”

The GTS/R was in its red-with-white-stripes #91 ALMS livery at the time, but Vic chose to restore it back to its Le Mans-winning livery, adding, “In my opinion, in the race car world, the most important worldwide race is Le Mans. It was a no-brainer to change it to that livery.” But even though only a few years had passed since it was racing at Le Mans, restoring a ?car to original race specifications is difficult, with its many one-off parts. But fate smiled upon Vic when Richard contacted Terry Scarborough of TSR Enterprises for the inspection and discovered that Florent Boisseau, a former 2000 ORECA team member was a current employee. Florent was intimately familiar with this car. Victor recalls, “When Florent first saw it, it was like seeing a long lost brother to him. He was very excited, and still is, every time he sees it!”

Florent was extremely excited to lead the restoration team to bring back his long lost brother to race-ready glory again. Florent proved to be extremely resourceful with his connections at ORECA, securing many New Old Stock parts necessary for the project. Florent recalls, “We found the original race seat. They don’t make it anymore, but one ?of the ORECA guys was using it for his PlayStation® video game seat. Vic was able to purchase that seat from him.” Florent also points out how they had to change the third brake light back from a rectangular light to the original Viper GTS Sneaky Pete light. Florent continues, “The windshield is unique for the race cars. If you look closely, you’ll see a defroster grid. That’s not something you can just order from Chrysler.” Inside the car, the Motec electronics are all there. Tucked inside the door is a track map, a list of emergency phone numbers, and a vintage cell phone, like they used when they raced. “With some of the big tracks, we had to have a cell phone just in case the car got in trouble and the driver had to call for help,” says Florent.

The original Viper engine was rebuilt to 24-hour race-ready specifications, including the original restrictor plates that were levied against the car when it proved to be too fast. Even with these restrictor plates, Viper was still able to beat Corvette that year, when the C5R debuted.

It’s gratifying to know that this historically-significant Viper is in the hands of a certified car-nut caretaker. Like most of us, Vic has been a car nut most of his life. Vic, President of a wholesale sporting goods company, laughs when he says, “I’ve been a car nut ever since I saw my first muscle car during my freshman year in high school. I own or have owned a lot of different cars, from Ferrari to Maserati, to Porsches and Corvettes, mostly from the ‘60s and ‘70s.” But the GTS/R is his first Viper. Vic says, “The next Viper in my garage will probably be an ACR!”

Vic had planned to run his GTS/R in some vintage events, but due to a back injury, he has put those plans on hold. So for now, he has been showing the GTS/R at concours events like The Quail in Carmel, and Avila Beach. Vic explains, “I am going to continue to display it at appropriate venues for all to see. I would love to drive it on the track someday, provided I heal up soon.”

The GTS/R’s exhaust echoed off the walls of Infineon Raceway as Florent took his old friend for some laps. Perhaps for the first time, I could hear the singular voice of the Viper GTS/R, not mixed in with a choir of other cars racing. Its voice was still strong. The warrior lives.

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