The Dodge Viper is indisputably America’s supercar, but despite exciting the imagination and attracting a fiercely loyal following, it never rose to the same levels of success as that other American automotive icon, the Corvette, or any number of European alternatives.
That’s reason enough for Magnus Walker to declare it The Next Big Thing – not least because the Viper is a car that Walker has admired for some time. “The first time I saw a Dodge Viper, I fell in love with it” he explains, driving it along the Californian canyon roads it was surely designed for.
The Viper debuted in 1991 (having originally been revealed at the same Chicago Auto Show in 1989 as that other automotive icon, the Mazda Miata/MX-5), coming to production in open-topped form as the RT/10 roadster. But it was the coupe GTS that Walker idolised – ideally in blue with a pair of Shelby-style white stripes – and it’s those coupé models that have informed every iteration since.
That includes fifth generation car owned by Bisi from renowned carbuilder Bisimoto. Bisi might be best known for his work tuning imported cars to enormous outputs and his dabbling in Porches, but at the back of his shop sits a moody, and almost completely standard Viper. If European supercars are scalpels, says Bisi, “think of this as the automotive chainsaw”.
With 640bhp and 600lb ft of torque Bisi hasn’t seen the need to add to those tallies further, suggesting it’s already a handful if you disable the electronic controls – but has thrown on a set of new wheels and fitted components to lower the electronically-controlled suspension.
On driving the car Walker admits that it’s not perfect, being a squeeze inside for his frame and its 8.4-litre V10 droning on road trips, but admires the car for its interactivity and character.
There’s clearly some appreciation in the market for the Viper, with condition 1 examples of Walker’s preferred Viper GTS good for $75,000, or around £55,000 – but that’s still a great deal less than any European equivalent you’d care to mention, while a condition 4 car (that’s “fair”) is valued at just $33,000, or £24,000.
Walker could be right that the car is The Next Big Thing. It’s difficult to imagine that one of America’s most attention-grabbing sports cars will so affordable for much longer.