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.

Tech Notes

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

By Herb Helbig, Chief Engineer—Viper (Retired)

Q: I own a 2006 SRT10® convertible with 18,000 miles. I have three (3) questions:

1. I’m considering a Corsa exhaust which requires removing the crossover. I’m reading mixed reviews on removing the crossover—some say it works fine and also significantly reduces cabin heat, while others claim removing the crossover sacrifices low-end power/torque. Is it advisable to remove the crossover?

2. When raising the windows the leading edge traps in the inner edge of the rubber triangular guide and folds the inner edge toward the window pane. It used to snap back into position, but the passenger side eventually deformed and stayed bent in. I had it replaced under warranty, but the new guide still does the same thing. How can this interference be prevented?

3. The rubber boot at the transmission has cracked. I ordered a new part but found that I cannot seem to replace it from the top side. Is it possible to replace from above or does the tranny need to be pulled and the boot replaced from below?

A: 1. We have not had the luxury of trying all the different exhaust systems available for Viper. The Corsa has never been tested by our team, so it isn’t fair to render a judgment. Just keep in mind that when you remove the crossover, the car will make more noise than is allowable under the federal guideline.

2. With regard to the window seal, the dealer needs to adjust either the flap or the glass to eliminate the folding. You might also try a little silicone lubricant on the guide to reduce the friction.

3. My experts at SRT® tell me that the environmental boot in the tunnel can be changed from the top. You have to remove the console top bezel and drill out the rivets and re-rivet the new piece in. If the crack is a small one, consider sealing it with some high-temp silicone sealer.

Q: It seems like it’s the convertible top or something similar, but I hear a clunking coming from the right rear of my 2006 SRT10® when I go over bumps. The previous owner took the car into the dealer and the report said they found it to be normal for the convertibles. Can you confirm this?

A: No clunk is normal. We didn’t build the top to make noise. A clunk coming from that right rear could be a lot of things. First try and isolate the noise inside versus outside and high in the car or low. Things to think about: loose shock, loose sway bar, check brake caliper etc. If you think it really is the top, look for wear marks where the top links might be rubbing, something may have come loose.

Q: What is the top speed that the 2008 Viper coupe can reach in a mile? I cannot find any information about the top speed on a Viper. In the Summer 2009 issue of VM there was a story about a Viper going 200 mph for the mile at the Silver State High Noon Shootout. I did the Texas Mile and managed 165 mph and I hope to go faster with some help on how to drive the Viper in the mile. Thanks for any help with this.

A: The top speed for the ’08 and ’09 is just over 200 mph, but it takes longer than a mile to reach top speed. The 600 hp coupe can probably reach 170 to 175 mph in the standing mile—like the Texas Mile. It might take another mile or so to wring out that last 25 mph.

Q: We have a 1997 GTS with about 22,000 miles on it. The speedo works sometimes—usually when you first start off it will either register, or not. Usually if you start off and it works it will stay that way. One time it went from not working to working—while driving on a somewhat rough road. I’ve been under the car and unplugged and replugged the two plugs closest to the speed sensor, and inspected for loose wires. Where else should I look? We’ve owned the car for about 17 months and the problem started about eight months ago.

A: Continue to look for a faulty connection, possibly at the back of the speedometer in the dash. It is also possible that the speed sensor has a problem and might need to be replaced.

Q: I have a 1992 Viper with 48,000 miles. I noticed Chrysler TSB 21-06-98 calls for Mopar Synthetic Manual Transmission Lubricant, part no. 04874459, for 1994–98 Viper manual transmissions experiencing a neutral rattle. Why does the TSB not include 1992 and 1993 model year Vipers? Can I service my 1992 Viper manual transmission with part no. 04874459 or should I continue to use ATF?

A: If you are not having the neutral rattle condition, stay with the ATF. The ‘92 and ‘93 cars were not experiencing any issues of this type which might explain why they were not included. It’s possible there may be some compatibility issues with some components in the earlier trannies.

Q: My 1996 Viper GTS has 32,000 miles. Recently the engine has been“cutting out” during hard acceleration. No problems during moderate acceleration, and the engine idles like new. I suspect it may be a coil problem; however, I’ve not noticed any coil leakage. Will a defective coil always show oil residue? Wires, connections and spark plugs all appear to be good (original). Any thoughts regarding what could cause the problem?

A: With the problem being related to hard acceleration, think about the motor torquing over and perhaps stretching a wire or connection and causing a break in continuity. Look for a torn mount either on the motor or the transmission.


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


A Tiger Named Viper

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

This Flying Tiger 10 meter (32.65 ft) sailboat was sighted in June on the Detroit River near Grosse Ile, Mich., an island south of the Motor City. Owned by Roger Pollack, VIPER is frequently raced on the Great Lakes.

Mad Maxx wins VM’s Viper of the Year

Written by editor on . Posted in Fall 2009

Story by Tom Leasure

A 1999 Dodge Viper GTS nicknamed Mad Maxx is the winner of VIPER Magazine’s 2009 Viper of the Year. Owner J.R. Orban of Raeford, N.C., has owned this glistening, flawless black 1999 Viper since 2001. J.R. has been taking it to the Mopars at the Rock show and pleasing the crowd since 2004.

We met up with J.R. at the 2009 Mopars at the Rock at Rockingham Dragway in Rockingham, N.C. The black beauty took top points to edge out the competition to win first place in the Viper class. This was not an easy task due to the high class of all of the Vipers that were entered in the show. When the Viper Club of America shows up at the Rock, shows can be won by half of a point, which makes judging a Viper class extremely difficult.

With only 10,360 miles on the odometer, you would think Madd Maxx would be pampered or just another garage-kept ornament, but this was not the case. Driver Kenny Weidle put Maxx through the paces with a crowd-pleasing burnout and hot laps down Rockingham’s famous quarter-mile strip. Mad Maxx has a Heffner Supercharged engine that delivers 820 hp and 720 lb-ft of torque. This Viper was nicknamed just right because it is “maxed out” in performance and show! If you think your Viper can edge out the Maxx, perhaps I will see you next April at Mopars at the Rock. For more information, call Tom Leasure at (910) 392-9000.

A Ripple in the Water

Written by editor on . Posted in Fall 2009, Parting Shots

By Lance Kouchi

Like a single drop into a still pool of water, the same rippling effect happens when the keys to a Viper hit your open palm for the very first time. Waves of energy radiate outward and quickly become entwined with others that share a similar fortune. That is what draws and bonds the Viper Family together.

Dave Cawthorne spent 32 years as an international captain piloting 747s for the Flying Tigers. If he wasn’t in the air flying, he was with his wife, son and daughter in their SSC Saleen racing at various track events. Dave eventually found himself in his retirement years and purchased a brand new 2002 Race Yellow Viper GTS. The keys hit the palm of his hand and he sent waves across the pool. Armed with years of experience and a creative desire to tweak and improve each and every “weak” point in the Viper, Dave started developing replacement and upgrade parts for the Viper.

He found himself back at his favorite track, Willow Springs International Speedway, testing parts on his own Viper. He engineered a way to adapt the fantastic SRT10® brakes to the early Vipers and quickly became known as “Big Brake Dave.” He shared his knowledge with everyone, always providing helpful information, and treated others like long lost friends. He would say, “I build this stuff for me,” but the reality is that he did it for all of us. He did it because he truly loved the Viper and interacting with other owners.

I met Dave in 2005 and will always remember his warm greeting to the club which made me feel very welcome. He rarely missed a club event and always played an integral part in some way. Whether it was organizing an event, mapping out a cruise route, or leading a long line of Vipers through the San Diego back roads, he always found a way to contribute. His energy was contagious and it drew people in. Over the last four years, we shared countless meals, e-mails, phone calls and laughs, and put over 15,000 miles on the odometer together. He was a true friend and a big part of my family. While I was lucky enough to know him face-to-face, there are many people in the Viper Nation that shared the very same vicarious friendship by reading and interacting with him through his posts on the Viper forums. His waves of energy traversed all distances.

He closed out 2008 with another Member of the Year award and was ready for another full year of events in the Southern California Club. In spite of not feeling 100 percent health-wise, he coordinated the first club cruise of the year in January, provided technical advice at our Tech Day and took up his position trackside watching over all of us at NARRA/Viper Days in February. He still wasn’t feeling any better when the Western Zone Rendezvous in Las Vegas rolled around in March, but nonetheless, he was there helping out and leading us around the Las Vegas Speedway road course. As soon as he returned home from Las Vegas, his doctor put him through a series of tests, and determined that he had colon cancer …

He calls me at work and instead of the usual, “Hey dude, what’s going on?” I hear a quavering voice shudder, “Bad news … I’ve got cancer.” It was a solid blow to the mid-section. As hard as it was to hear, it was even harder over the coming weeks to sit and wait, hearing his voice deteriorate, and not be able to do something to just make it go away. As word spread, everyone shared the same desire to do something, anything.

So the Viper Family far and near rallied to show support for our friend by “stacking the deck” in his favor. Playing cards with well wishes were sent to his house from members all over the Viper Nation as well as numerous “get well soon” posts on the VCA forums. He felt our waves of energy, but his body was losing the battle from within. In a final outpouring of support, over 30 Vipers and other cars assembled in a day’s notice and paraded past Dave’s house. There in the garage sat Dave in his yellow track chair, his wife on one side and his Viper on the other, waving a final goodbye. One week later, on July 10, 2009, our dear friend “Big Brake Dave” peacefully passed.

A tear rolls off the cheek and sends ripples in the water … He will be missed!

Hulk Viper

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

By Bill Lombardi

Here’s my Hulk Viper, or should I say my Snakeskin Green Viper with the Massachusetts “HULK” license plate. I’m a New England VCA member since August 19, 2002, and at that time, I owned a beautiful ‘96 blue-with-white stripes GTS. The car was mint and I was going to keep it forever until I saw the 2008 Snakeskin Green Viper coupe with black stripes. I had to have it! I looked for some time and tried to make a couple of deals with dealers but every time I was ready to pull the trigger—SOLD.

Well, I discovered that Bill Pemberton at Woodhouse had one and I called him and didn’t even flinch. We made the deal. He took my ‘96 on trade and when it was delivered I couldn’t believe the color, it was awesome! So of course, I needed a plate for my new Snake because my old plate “VENOMS” just was not for this car. So I started looking and thinking, and it actually drove me nuts. I called our state RMV a couple of times and almost went for “GRINCH,” but damn, it was taken, and I needed something green and strong.

I could not believe it but “HULK” was available. Done, HULK was my plate!

So then, I had to juice up the car with green items. I visited eBay and looked under Hulk. I couldn’t believe it but Marvel Entertainment Inc. was selling off every one of their Hulk promotional statues from 2008. They were expensive and there were only 200 made. I didn’t care and purchased the statue as I felt this would be awesome to be able to stand this monster with the car—especially with the HULK license plate.

My friend Glenn Cote, also a New England member, was able to get a trailer and planned a road trip to Connecticut to pick this thing up. Once we got there and saw it we couldn’t believe it. We were not sure if it would fit on the trailer. Glen said, “We can do it, no problem!” The road trip back was long but worth it. We had just as many thumbs-ups as we do driving our Vipers.

Blain Family Vipers

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

Brothers, Bob and Brad Blain and Bob’s son, Scott, from Rochester, N.Y., are now all Viper owners. Brad always dreamed of owning a Viper. When brother, Bob, came back from a trip to Atlanta, Ga., with his newly purchased 1994 Dodge Viper RT/10, Brad had to live up to his dream. He then purchased his 1998 GTS Coupe and the brothers cruised around together. Most recently, Bob’s son, Scott, joined the Viper family with his purchase of a new 2008 SRT10® Viper. Now the three Blains enjoy driving their Vipers around town together and watching heads turn.

Keeping it in the Family

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

By Margie Yost

I would like to formally introduce you to someone you may have met at a VOI or various Viper events held by the VA/MD and PA/WV clubs. His name is Carlos Ugaz, Sr.

Carlos has been a Viper owner since 1996, when he bought a red 1994. About a year later, he began changing the look of the car with custom paint and new interiors to reflect his unique style and taste. Very few off-the-shelf customized parts were available for Vipers at that time, so Carlos designed, and in many cases created most of the parts himself.

On the interior, he has changed the instrument and door panels, consoles and seats. On the exterior he has changed the decals, replaced the exhaust, and added a unique spoiler. The finished result is an attractive, cohesive design that flows well with the Viper look and untouched components of the car.

Whenever Carlos drives his Viper, he is questioned by admirers. They never focus on one specific element, but seem to be struck by the overall package. “Can I take a picture of your car?” he is often asked. People even hold cell phones out of car windows to capture the image. This puts a smile on his face, as it would any of us.

While the cars draw a crowd today, there were lessons and challenges along the way. For example, when Carlos replaced the exhaust for his first Viper, he did not realize until the car was raised on jacks that a metal cover concealed the entire underside. He knew the removal would be a lot of work, but with determination it was finally completed—not just once but twice. The first set of exhaust pipes was too loud so he had to replace them with a specially designed pair that had a better sound.

To add to the Viper family, Carlos ventured out and bought another Viper, this time a red 2004 convertible. With ten years between the designs, the two Vipers looked quite different. And as Carlos worked on the ’04, the differences between the cars increased. Carlos modified some vehicle appliqués into snake-eye covers for the headlights. When looking at the front of the car, it looks like a snake is staring you down.

In 2008, Carlos bought his third Viper, a blue convertible. When the car was delivered to the house, he went right to work taking everything apart. The seats were still covered in plastic from the dealership. He hadn’t even driven the car yet and there it was, in pieces. With more than ten years’ experience, Carlos is a pro at Viper customization.

As with any work of art, the artist is never satisfied. Carlos continually thinks of new ideas for customizing his cars. Every weekend, he can be found at the parts shop, dropping off or picking up finished parts that he has designed.

This past July, Carlos drove the red 2004 to Carlisle, Pa., for the 2009 Carlisle All-Chrysler Nationals. A couple of days later, he was notified that his Viper won first place in the 2002–2009 Viper Coupe/Roadster category. In 2008, he took third place in the same event. For Carlos, these were fulfilling accomplishments.

As Carlos travels to club events, the question he hears most frequently is, “What have you added to your car?” Being original has always been a part of his personality. He has attended four VOI events and loves looking at the different Vipers and talking to other owners.

Two years ago, my husband and I finally talked Carlos into selling us his 1994. At least he still gets to see it. I am sure deep down he wanted to keep it. Now as a family we enjoy the regional Viper events and VOIs together. And now my husband and I are asked about the car wherever we go. I just smile and say, “My dad custom made it.”

Carlos still owns two Vipers and the only challenge for him and his wife Judy is to decide which Viper to drive that day.

Viper’n in Northern England

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

By Graham Lambert

July 4 is just an ordinary date to us Englishmen, but not so in 2009 as this was the date the UK Viper Club had their 4th annual Northern Viper Run (NVR) or “Peak Raid.”

A bright sunny morning saw eight Vipers, a Ram SRT10® and a Holden Monaro congregate at a hotel on the outskirts of Mansfield ready for the 150-mile drive through the Peak District—Britain’s first National Park. Taking part in two stages over the course of the day, the driving was split equally either side of lunch. However, this was not just a leisurely drive through stunning scenery; there was a purpose to this outing—winning the NVR ‘09 Trophy for the best score in
the road quiz. Puzzles, observation, general knowledge and Viper silhouettes all had to be found somewhere on the route.

The 68-mile morning drive began near Mansfield taking us via Hardwick Hall, an Elizabethan country house and through the grounds of Chatsworth House, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. After taking in some fabulous scenery on the western side of the Peak District, we arrived at the Three Acres Inn near the Emley Moor TV transmitter station for an excellent buffet lunch. Many thanks to Andrew and Jenny for supplying the American flag cake for Independence Day and managing not to squash it with the spirited driving!

The 70-mile afternoon drive took us through quintessentially English villages, such as Holmfirth and Glossop, attracting huge amounts of attention from young and old alike. The most dramatic part of the route took us over the famous Snake Pass at 1710 ft and through the heart of the Peak District and finally onto the Brimington Hall Hotel near Chesterfield.

For the evening, a private function room was booked for dinner and presentation of the prizes for the days road quiz. Andrew and Jenny Blackmore were once again worthy winners, regaining the trophy off yours truly! Afterwards a few beers and well earned sleep ready for the Sunday drive to the Muscle & Crab pub where Bruce and Alison once again put on a superb lunch for everyone.

This fantastic weekend could not have happened without the dedication and organizational skills of Mich and Suzie Simcox, for which we are all very grateful and look forward to NVR ’10!

Hot Damn

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

Fast cars and photography are two of Illinois Viper Club member Mike Caplan’s favorite hobbies. So it’s only fitting
that he’s found a way to merge those passions. Mike, who is also a TV weatherman at the ABC station in Chicago, recently started a side business showcasing some of his images at “These awesome cars are beautiful on their own, but when you’ve got a gorgeous wife and two other supermodels-in-training eager to pose, the combination is jaw-dropping,” Mike notes. “I think these images of Laura, Tera and Jen show off our ’05 Copperhead and my buddy Steve Loudin’s ’08 Viper Bright Blue Pearl coupe in a way I know I won’t soon forget!”

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