Your 16-year-old son would probably be happy lighting incense in front of it and inviting his friends over to worship


Few cars in the history of the American automobile have captured the imagination of car enthusiasts like the Dodge Viper. What started as an outrageous concept car at the 1989 Detroit auto show led to a bold corporate experiment, with a street-legal production car readied in just 32 months. A factory-backed racing effort soon followed, which led to the GT-2 Le Mans and FIA Championships and the Championship in the American Le Mans Series.
Roy H. Sjoberg was named to head up the Dodge Viper Project team in 1989. Sports car racing had been in his blood since he pit crewed for his brother in the mid-1950s. This developed into SCCA car preparation and race driving, including an IMSA stint at Mosport. One of Sjoberg's most memorable activities was the three years he spent as development manager for his long-time friend, Zora Arkus-Duntov, the father of the Corvette, and the man who nicknamed Sjoberg "Father Viper."
After he retired, Sjoberg decided to build a GT-3 class Viper, a project that had been designed by Dodge but was never built due to budget constraints. The design is basically a GT-2 Viper, but built with the production chassis and engine designed to meet FIA requirements. While many SCCA/IMSA race cars are home-built in private garages by well meaning amateurs using mail-order performance parts, the Dodge Viper Race Car on offer here was actually designed, engineered and built by the ex-factory chief engineer.
At a cost of over $150,000 to duplicate, this car is race ready and suitable for SCCA amateur events or serious pro racing in the Grand Am Cup Series. Upon its completion, the vehicle was raced at several Viper Challenge venues for developmental purposes. With no questionable engineering, haphazard workmanship, or incorrect parts to be found on this fabulous yellow Viper "GT-3" roadster, a purchase within its catalog estimate of $55,000-$85,000 would make good sense to a Viper enthusiast.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1998 Dodge Viper
Years Produced:1998
Number Produced:100 (GT-2)
Original List Price:$85,200
SCM Valuation:$50,000-$100,000
Tune Up Cost:Cost per hour to race: $700
Distributor Caps:n/a
Chassis Number Location:left front windshield
Engine Number Location:stamped on passenger side of engine block
Club Info:SCCA, P.O. Box 19400 Topeka, KS 66619-0400
Alternatives:Porsche GT2, BMW M3 SCCA racer
Investment Grade:C

This Dodge Viper Race Car sold for $49,500 at RM’s Monterey sale, held August 13-14, 2004.
We often say this about other types of collector vehicles, but it holds true for race cars as well: The smart thing to do is to go out and buy somebody else’s tarnished dreams after they’ve decided to (or been forced to) abandon them. As a general rule, a really well built and presented weapons-grade racing car is worth between a third and a half of what the original owner put into it. Professional racers understand this, and they spend money on their cars knowing they’ll more or less throw them away when they’re done. People who want to “invest” in a race car are often sorely disappointed.
The Viper pictured here is a classic example of just such an opportunity, snapped up by a knowledgeable buyer. Assuming the package is mechanically sound, at 50 grand the new owner is getting a slightly used toy for about 30 cents on the dollar. A stupendous deal on first glance, but there is a bit of a “razor and blades” component to this sale, in that the spares and extra parts are “available by private treaty.”
Any serious user will need those, and once you’ve bought the car you’re in a poor negotiating position relative to buying them. So the full package will be more than the hammer price by a substantial amount. Presumably whoever raised their paddle knew this and factored it in.
A more perplexing dilemma is what the new owner is going to do with the car. He is emphatically not going to drive it on the street. Though his 16-year-old son would probably be happy lighting incense in front of it and inviting his friends over to worship, that’s probably not adequate reason to park it in the garage.
The car is way too new for vintage racing. It’s either uncompetitive or without a class to run in for any national or international level series. This leaves us with running the car at local events-which isn’t such a bad thing.
SCCA and other regional-level racing clubs would be happy to make room for the car, and there are even some events like the 24 Hours of Nelson Ledges that would allow for significant amounts of track time. The world is full of German-built track toys that cost half again (or more) what this car went for, and there are no shortage of track days hosted by various car clubs where this Viper Race Car would certainly be a respectable mount.
It shouldn’t be all that tough to keep the car going, either. It’s basically a fully race-prepared production GT-2, so the components won’t be nearly as fragile as the pure-competition stuff. The engine is advertised at 525 hp, blueprinted to “endurance race specifications.” This sounds very cool, but what it’s really saying is that neither engine nor drivetrain are particularly stressed in this configuration. (Stock output is 460 hp.) This is exactly what you want to hear if you’re using the car as a track toy. With some care you could probably run 50-60 hours between rebuilds. Trust me, that’s a lot of laps.
As a tube-frame-and-skinny-tires kind of vintage racer, I find myself skeptical of the sort of fun to be had in a race car like this one, but I’m reminded that these things are about as safe as you’re going to find on the track. They’re far safer than anything truly vintage, so there’s a lot more room for wild abandon and family responsibility to share quarters when you head out onto the track. If something does go wrong, it’s just a Viper and you didn’t use your daughter’s college education trust fund to buy it.
When you add the cool looks and bright yellow paint to the safety and affordability equation, I’ll call this a dependable source of adrenaline rushes for not too much money. Well bought.
(Historical and descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.)

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