Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Motive Road Test: Snake on a Plane - 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10

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This Viper has a date with the dragstrip. But an hour-and-a-half of highway separates the Motive offices and the 'strip out in the sticks, so I'm hoping to steal glimpses of this car's dark side on the ride out. I hop in the Viper and instinctively hunt for the traction-control-defeat switch. Except that, in the Viper, there is no traction control. Dodge left stability control and launch control on the shop floor, too. A well-modulated clutch pedal and driver finesse are the only things keeping the Viper on the narrow path between bogging down and burning out. With 600 horsepower it would be all too easy to henceforth reference venom and fangs and bites and all other things serpentine, but I won't. Because none of those words really capture the gestalt of the Viper.

This car is from another era. Its spiritual predecessors took part in the golden age of American motorsports, when road races were still held on public roads. When sports cars were driven to the venue, run hard, and then - with any luck - driven home. When American contenders with big V8s fought it out with leaner, more sophisticated European machines. It was a more dangerous time, but one when the connection between driver and vehicle was pure, unfettered by electronics.

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