Drifting Away

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

Although Samuel Hübinette was unable to repeat as the champion of the Formula D Drift series, it wasn’t for lack of support. The Northern California VCA members showed up in force at Infineon Raceway to cheer for Sam’s Viper SRT10®.

Legal at Last

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

By Brad Elder

I was going to send in my Viper story a long time ago, but we all know how that goes. Coming from a family of car lovers, it made perfect sense to me to start driving as early as possible. It all started with the family Kubota tractor. I was maybe four and in no time I had that driving skill down pat. I then progressed to Honda 70 three wheelers, a Mini Trail 50 and then to dirt bikes.

When I was 13, dad had taken me out in my Grandpa’s old 1967 VW bug and taught me how to drive a manual transmission. Well, I was about to turn 15 and I knew that if you were signed up for driver’s training, you could get a permit on your birthday. During the next year I drove as much as I possibly could. When the weather was nice I was always asking my dad if we could go out in the Viper. The day came where dad finally asked if I wanted to drive it. With all that torque it is very tough when you are first getting used to the clutch, gas, acceleration combo. But I managed quite well.

In the middle of July, I was scheduled to take the written test for my driver’s license. I had phoned my dad at work and asked him if it would be all right if mom and I drove the Black Mamba up to the license bureau. Being the nice dad that he is, he said yes.

I passed the written test and the man behind the counter asked when I would like to schedule the road test. I told him I wouldn’t be sixteen for two more weeks but he said, “You can take the driving part any time within a month of your birthday—and we happen to have an opening right now if you are ready.”

I looked at my mom and looked at him and said sure. He told me to bring my car up front and an agent would meet me. The lady who came out to give me my test was clueless to what a Viper is or she was being very professional to hide how excited she was to ride in one. I showed her how to get in without touching the door sills (dad’s pet peeve). One of the few comments she made to me was, “That is cool how you push the button to start the car.”

After we got going the test went great. I had points deducted because I stalled it while backing around a corner. I am probably one of a few (If not the only) kids that took and passed their driver’s test in a Viper Black Mamba. Thanks mom and dad!

Tech Notes

Written by editor on . Posted in Spring 2009, Tech Notes

By Herb Helbig, Chief Engineer—Viper

Editor’s Note: In order to provide better answers for your questions, don’t forget to mention the year, body style and mileage of your Viper.

Q: After becoming more and more familiar with my 1998 Viper GTS I have noticed the passenger door has become difficult to shut. It seems that it needs to be adjusted, as, if I simply gently push it shut, it won’t close properly. If I hold it up as I push it shut all the way, then it shuts no problem. When I am parked on any kind of incline, the driver’s side doesn’t seem to stay open but the passenger side does. I can certainly live with these problems but I would like to get them addressed if there are simple things I can do to adjust them.

A: The passenger door sounds like it has sagged a bit. This can be easily fixed by adjusting the door hinge. Usually, this is a two-person job. You need to make sure that you only loosen the hinge bolts slightly so that the door doesn’t fall further out of adjustment. The job itself will be a bit of trial and error.

Q: After driving in the extreme heat here, I noticed that my car is running awfully hot. With the A/C on, it runs up to the notch before the red hot line. Where I live is in the mid-high 90s right now and the elevation is around 3,600 feet-plus. I took my car to a local shop to flush, refill and pressure test the coolant system. Today, it’s running hotter than ever. If 190°F is normal, is up to that notch way too hot?

A: I’m going to assume you’re Viper is an older model and built before 2003. If the car runs normally and it does not put the needle up as high when the ambient temperatures are lower, say 75°F, then you are probably OK. The car is just reacting to the high ambient temperature. Also, if the needle stays up near the mark prior to the red zone and doesn’t move higher but just stays there, that’s all right too. You must make sure that no air is trapped in the coolant system.

Q: I normally drive with my hands on the wheel and have never really noticed how much movement there is in the shifter when not shifting. I was lazy with my hand the other day and noticed that at about 2,000 rpm, if I floor it, the shifter pulls toward the passenger side about 3/4 to 1 inch whether in 2nd or 3rd gear. Is this amount of shifter movement normal?

A: The amount of movement you’re talking about sounds high. Of course, there’s always some movement, especially with high loads. I would look at the trans mount and make sure the rubber isn’t cracked. Also look at both engine mounts. If any of the three have started to separate, you’ll get excess shifter movement.

Q: I pulled the car out of the garage to let it warm up and circulate fluids. When I went to pull it back in, the clutch felt mushy. When I started to let it out, the car lurched forward and stalled. I pumped the pedal to regain resistance and got it back in the garage. When I went to pull the cap off the reservoir I noticed fluid had been leaking out around the cap. The fluid is also olive drab green in appearance. My question is that since I recently did a full cat delete and don’t know the clutch line locations, could it just be boiling?

A: You didn’t mention if you installed headers when you deleted the cats. If you did you’re probably boiling the clutch fluid. You also didn’t mention the year of your car—some Vipers had a protective insulating sleeve over the clutch line as it passes by the exhaust manifold. Make sure that the sleeve has not been removed. Regardless, make sure that there is as much room as possible between the manifold and the line. I wouldn’t worry too much about the color of the fluid. Most cars do have the fluid turn dark.

Q: I noticed today when I was driving with my top up that in third gear, if I take it past 2,000 rpm, and especially above 3,000, when I let off the gas I get a very audible whine. It sounded like an electrical whine at first, so I shut off the radio, but it was still there. Put the clutch in and it goes away. This is the only gear I have noticed it in. I’m assuming if it was the rear end, then it should whine in any gear, not just third. Perhaps this is a normal sound?

A: The whine noise you’re hearing is most likely gear noise. Since it’s when you let off the throttle, we call it coast down gear noise. It can come from the trans or the rear axle. Although it can be annoying all cars have some and it usually doesn’t mean things are going to break. Typically, rear axle noise occurs at the same vehicle speed not rpm. So if it’s the axle you should get it in any gear but at the same vehicle speed. You mentioned third gear. If you don’t get the whine in fourth at the same vehicle speed it’s probably the trans. The same idea applies, just because it whines a little doesn’t mean it’s ready to break.


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


Viper Fans to the Core

Written by editor on . Posted in Letters, Spring 2009

Viper Fans to the Core

Harlen and LaDonna Core love their Vipers. We proudly drive a yellow 2001 GTS/ACR around Oklahoma City and enjoy our Oklahoma Viper club very much. Our club president, Jon Hansen, plans a great schedule of luncheon meetings, shows and races, as well as an annual party at Christmas. This Christmas party has always had a Viper theme.

Harlen just had his 76th birthday. Believe it or not he loves to drag race in his 1966 Plymouth Valiant. This little Plymouth has a 440 cid engine and runs in the eleven second class at a local raceway. The yellow Viper runs in the twelve’s and is pure stock with street tires. Harlen also drove in the SRT® Track Experience at Texas Motor Speedway where he won first place in the drifting contest. He also drove Vipers with other Viper club members at the Phoenix, Ariz. Chrysler Proving Grounds in timed road races.

The picture shows our stable of Mopars in our front yard. We drive a Chrysler 300C for family driving. We pull the drag car with a Quad Cab® HEMI® Ram. We purchased one of the last built SRT10® Viper pick-ups in November 2006. This truck is one fine ride. It is loaded with the comforts of life such as navigation, Sirius radio and Bluetooth. LaDonna enjoys driving it because it’s a comfortable, fast, smooth-driving truck. The plates of the yellow Viper read: SP D Core. The Viper pick-up simply reads: VIPER 2.

We look forward to each issue of VIPER Magazine. Thanks for considering our pictures.

Harlen and LaDonna Core

Oklahoma City, Okla.

In considering your photos, Mr. & Mrs. Core, we came to the conclusion that you possess one very impressive collection of lawn ornaments! If only we could be so lucky. We especially appreciated the heading of your letter: “Mopar® or No Car is the Core Motto.” Funny—that’s the motto at VM as well. — Ed.

Blue Christmas

Merry Christmas to the entire staff involved in VIPER Magazine. It is an excellent publication that is not only informative but very creative. If it fits your format, please insert the photos (or license plate) in a future issue. Thanks!

Don Sterly

Gurnee, Ill.


Although this issue hits readers’ mailboxes in the spring, at press time an abundance of ice and snow has kept every one at VM headquarters in the holiday spirit. We thought we’d feature one of the many warm season’s greetings sent in from the Viper Nation. Thanks a bunch, folks—it sure beats hate mail! — Ed.


The chart listing the color totals of 2008 Vipers, featured in the Winter 2009 issue of VM, was incomplete. The full chart is included on page 32–33 of this issue. VIPER Magazine apologizes for the error.


We want to hear from you!

We value your input. Please feel free to send any questions, comments, or constructive criticisms to:

VIPER Magazine

P.O. Box 2117

Farmington Hills, MI 48333-2117

E-mail: [email protected]

Web: www.vipermagazine.com

Viva Detroit! Viva Viper!

Written by editor on . Posted in Ignition, Spring 2009

Addressing you in this column is a first for me. You don’t often hear from J.R. Thompson Company. We are mostly behind the scenes. Our founder, John R. Thompson, played a role working with Dodge and helping the founding members establish the Viper Club of America. Many of you know us for publishing VIPER Magazine dating back to the time when it was a newsletter (thank you Ron Smith). Others know us as VCA Headquarters, handling memberships and taking care of club business. Or maybe you’ve heard about us at one of the Viper Owners Invitationals where we helped Dodge manage these events. What a great honor and privilege it has been working with Dodge, SRT® and the VCA these past 15 years.

As publisher of VIPER Magazine and always mindful of continuous improvement, we recently e-mailed a “quick poll” survey to those of you who have given us your e-mail address. Our goal was to find out what you enjoy reading most and what you would like to see in future issues. Over 600 of you responded (thank you) and told us that you want more technical information, performance mods and features on customized Vipers (no surprise here). You also want more club articles, special interest stories of VCA members and features of cool Viper garages. We’ll be sure to deliver but we would also like more of your participation. Keep in mind that we have always welcomed editorial contributions. Why not become one of our contributing writers? You might enjoy writing a piece and joining the ranks of those who have already contributed. Don’t be shy. E-mail your suggestions to [email protected] We will work with you to create a masterpiece.

One other word for the times: In the last issue of VM, VCA President Chris Marshall touched on the changes and turmoil we face here in Detroit with the auto industry and more at home with Chrysler LLC and Viper. Much of the news out of Detroit has been grim, but we are a resilient town and going to keep our wheels on.

Detroit is under tremendous pressure brought on in large part by the fundamental economic issues our nation faces. The American car industry is truly at a crossroad facing one of its greatest challenges of all time. We realize that it’s time for a major transformation and we are more than up to that challenge. We will prevail and we will see that Viper is alive and well when the dust settles. No economic crisis is going to smother the spirit of the Viper Nation.

Thank you for your support of the Viper and the VCA—you have all had a hand in making it the world-class car club it is today. Viva Viper!

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