The Cruise Brothers

Written by editor on . Posted in Spring 2009

With thousands of Vipers registered in Florida and several extremely active Viper Club of America chapters throughout the state, it’s probably not all that unusual to see caravans of Vipers cruising the countryside. The odds of that sight are even greater around the Naples area because that’s where the four Malo brothers (and their four Vipers) reside. And if you’ve ever had the chance to visit their restaurant in Naples or meet them in person, you know that the Malo brothers bring the party with them.

The four Malo brothers—Flo, Neim, Jim and Solli—like nothing better than to get away on weekend trips that take them from the northernmost part of Florida all the way down to Key West. And the four Vipers they drive make sure they command attention across the state.

“We absolutely love these cars,” said Jim Malo. “By nature we tend to be very outgoing people so the Vipers suit our personalities perfectly. How can you look at these cars and not get excited? And we drive them every chance we get.”

Their restaurant—The Watermark Grille—has become known as one of the dining highlights in all of southwest Florida. And this Naples landmark (just like their Vipers) is a reflection of the Malo brothers overall attitude—work hard, play hard and don’t do anything halfway.

The tale of the Malo brothers is the quintessential American success story. Flo explained, “In 1950, my father and mother (who were from Albania), escaped Communism and ended up in a Greek refugee camp. Six years later, an Albanian family in Chicago sponsored us and we were able to come to this country to begin our lives as Americans.”

The father, Bato Malo, had to overcome some severe challenges in establishing himself in his new country. Flo said, “He couldn’t read or write—English or Albanian. He didn’t even have a driver’s license.”

He continued, “My father started out by washing dishes for 50 cents an hour but through hard work and persistence, he eventually ended up owning his own restaurant. That’s how our future in the restaurant business was sealed.”

When their father retired in 1974, the sons took over the restaurant and, a few years later, opened a nightclub in Chicago. “This was quite a wild time for us,” Jim admitted. “We were booking a lot of heavy metal and other rock bands and, most of the time, the parties lasted all night. We had a blast, but the pace was grueling.”

Partying with the likes of Metallica can take a toll on anyone, so the brothers decided it might be time to look into a more family-friendly business. “Naples had always been a favorite vacation spot for us,” said Flo. “In the early 1990s we all ended up making the move south and started up a restaurant just outside of the city.”

Their original establishment served as a testing ground for their current restaurant, the Watermark Grille. The building itself is as distinctive as the brothers as it features a number of fountains, floor to ceiling windows and a bright airy ambience that captures the spirit of southern Florida. “Over the years, we found that people prefer booths, lots of windows and water; thus the fountains,” Flo explained. “These all became part of the plan for the Watermark. It’s an upscale restaurant, but we’re kid-friendly, too. Like all of us, this place is never quiet or stuffy.”

The business has exploded over the years as the reputation of the Watermark Grille has spread far and wide. “During our off season, we average anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000 customers per month. In season, that jumps to 10,000 to 15,000,” said Flo. “Basically, it’s organized chaos.”

All this responsibility can make it difficult to find time to enjoy their Vipers, but the brothers manage to hit the road whenever they can. In fact, many of the family vacations are planned around where they can drive. “Even though the cars are great to look at, we believe they’re meant to be driven,” said Jim. “So it’s a priority to get out on the road whenever we can.”

One way to free up some time is to share the workload and the brothers make sure all the restaurant work is divided equally. Flo keeps up with all the business operations and Jim heads up the kitchen. Neim and Solli work out front making sure that all the guests have a fantastic dining experience. It’s a system that might not work for some families, but for the Malos, it’s a recipe for success.

Jim said, “We believe we have a very strong work ethic, thanks to our father. He always told us that it’s easy to break one stick, but when you have four together, it’s very difficult. That’s what makes our business work—we always stay together.”

(The Watermark Grille is located on 11280 N. Tamiami Trail in Naples, Fla. You can also visit their Web site at www.watermarkgrille.com.)

A hunka, hunka burnin’ rubber

Written by editor on . Posted in Spring 2009

Gas is expensive. Tires are expensive. And the occasional rear axle or transmission is really expensive. But burnouts are fun and one of the ultimate highs in owning a Dodge Viper is seeing that white smoke billowing from underneath the car while the tires spin and scream against the pavement.

So go ahead and approach Viper owners as they stand next to their Vipers, with traces of smoke still wafting up from their shredded tires and ask them, “Was it worth it?” Chances are the response you’ll get is a “Hell, yes!”

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.

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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.

Correction

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!

Turning Up the Heat

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

For the last 10 years, the city of Danville, California, has hosted a Danville Hot Summer Nights event. This year, the temperature of the show was raised quite a bit by the presence of a number of Vipers from the Northern California VCA. Margaret and Jack Cohen then hosted a party for the Viper contingent at their home nearby and the money raised by the event was donated to the Brian Angen Memorial Foundation.

Painfully Honest

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

Ginger Kurzejewski, from the WV/PA VCA saw a Corvette that gave her pause. “Here’s a photo that I took at the Northeast Zone Rendezvous at the Pocono Raceway.  This car was lined up to go on the track. Why anyone would put that sticker on their Corvette is beyond me.” All we can guess is that confession is good for the soul.

Show Within a Show

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

When Bill Black, of Chambersburg, Pa., displayed his Viper at a recent car show, he decided to put together his own little car event in the back window of his Viper. He explained, “I made an evolution display in the trunk of the car using 1:18 diecast model cars. It shows the various models of the car. The Vipers are (from left to right): RT/10 roadster, the first 1996 GTS coupe, GTS-R Le Mans version, a GTS coupe, a GT2, a GTS 1996-2002 and an SRT10.”

Black added, “There were more than 60 other Vipers at the show I believe. I didn’t win a trophy, but with my Viper and my models on display, we had a great time anyway.”

Wanted—Red and Alive

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

By Brandi Sliger

The North Texas chapter of the Viper Club of America attended the opening weekend of “Wanted.” The movie starred an incredible red 2008 Viper SRT10 and some actress—I think her name was Angelina Jolie. We had an AWESOME turnout with about 13 Vipers and 30 members in attendance. We had special parking and an off-duty officer keeping an eye on the cars. Thanks to The Studio Movie Grill in Plano, Texas; Officer Tilley and members David and Mary Anne Brown for coordinating this event.

Viper Mileage Manages to Surprise

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

KickingTires.com recently took the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10® out for a week of test-drives. Here is an excerpt: “The Dodge Viper leaves our offices today after a week of me tooling around in the sinister coupe, and sitting at my desk this morning I had to tally up the gas receipts for the week.

“Much to my surprise, the dang thing got 20.17 mpg over the course of 750 miles, which ain’t too shabby. Official EPA estimates put the Viper at 13/22 mpg city/highway, so looking back those numbers aren’t too surprising, but they’re still impressive for a 600-horsepower supercar. A four-wheel-drive 2009 Honda Pilot also is rated at 22 mpg highway, but don’t take that tidbit as a direct comparison, just a fun fact.”

The article continued, “The coupe is an insanely fast car to drive on the street, but I was cautious while ‘testing’ it. If you want to push it, by the time first gear is done the car will have reached or exceeded the majority of legal speed limits. Even being conservative, though, something still doesn’t compute when you say ‘Viper’ and ‘20 mpg’ in the same sentence.”

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