It’s respect, the whole R-E-S-P-E-C-T thing Aretha Franklin sang about, and it pervades every aspect of human existence. Not only must we demonstrate deference to society’s wizened senior citizens, but also to authority figures who are charged with public safety and to eager, young and impressionable eyes looking for a role model. Even animals deserve and, frankly, demand this intangible entity, as horrifically proven in the recent film, Grizzly Man, where a brief lack of the utmost respect resulted in a gruesome death.
Consider the same to be true with cars, which nowadays offer more horsepower and torque than ever, handling that suggests corners can be taken at imprudent speeds, and so many safety systems that watching TV on the couch looks comparatively dangerous. A prime example is the 2006 Dodge Viper SRT-10 Coupe, a hardtop, 3,410-lb. two-seater that pushes 510 horses and 535 lb.-ft. of twist from an angry V10 engine to the massive rear wheels. This is a ride that requires effort to not spin the tires, and much concentration to keep ‘er under 100 mph. But without any standard or optional traction or stability control systems, if you get a little too comfortable behind the wheel, a little too tight with that eager accelerator or twitchy with that exacting steering wheel, this snake will quickly whip around and sink its fangs in deep. Yet, treat this high-octane beast correctly, much like you would its namesake, and be rewarded with raw power and an unflinching desire to annihilate all speed limits, straighten all curves, and swallow lesser vehicles whole. With the right driver and the right road, the 2006 Dodge Viper SRT-10 is as close to a street-legal racer as you may find, and it is the wise one who will treat it as such. Just don’t expect it to respect you back.
Buying into a relationship with the Viper Coupe requires putting $86,995 in the hands of your local Dodge dealer, $3,000 of which covers a gas guzzler tax and $850 for destination charges. With that significant outlay of greenbacks comes an 8.3-liter V10 engine pushing 510 horsepower and 535 lb.-ft. of torque mated to a six-speed manual transmission and a limited slip rear differential, Brembo vented antilock disc brakes, a power rack-and-pinion steering system, and a fully-independent suspension with upper and lower A-arms front and rear. Stuffed into the wheel wells are five-spoke alloys wearing Michelin Pilot Sport run-flat tires measuring 275/35R18 in front and 345/30R19 out back.
Interior accoutrements featured with the base price include the typical power items, power foot pedals, a 310-watt sound system with a six-disc CD changer, leather seats, dual front airbags, and a tire pressure monitor. Sirius satellite radio is a $195 option. Venture to the exterior for a view of the integrated front fog lights; high-intensity discharge headlights; two different wheel options that retail for $700; black or silver stripes that add $3,000 to the final tally; or one of three $600 paint colors – Copperhead Orange, Viper GTS Blue, and Viper Race Yellow. Available at no cost are Viper Black and Viper Red.
Our test car was a Viper Red 2006 Dodge Viper SRT-10 Coupe with the $3,000 silver stripe package, bringing the total bill to $89,995. As expected, our editors took advantage of every opportunity to “evaluate” the Viper over the course of a week, covering highways, city streets, and challenging back roads all over Southern California.