Buying a low mile Gen 1 Viper, any tips for what to expect?

Kevin Curry

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Hi all - I had a '94 for a few years back in the 2000's, I wanted to stay married and see my kids, so I sold it when the second child came. Now that I made the last college payment, I'm searching for another low mile Gen 1. As I read the posts on the site, it's clear there is a wealth of knowledge here and I appreciate the way everyone shares their problems as well as their triumphs. I'm looking at several cars that have under 5000 miles on them. I'd rather pay the premium for a clean low mile car which is still far below what the car stickered at. Can anyone tell me issues to look for when a car has low, low miles? Particularly with the drive train? I don't plan to put more than 2500 a year on it so I would like to know what's the SOP for Viper owners that want to keep the miles low. What are your maintenance procedures if you care to share. Thanks all. KC
 
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ViperRed

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Hi there, your story resonates with me.
I got a 5000 mile '93 back in 2014, basically?

1. Spark plugs
2. Injector o-rings
3. Check valve for fuel delivery
4. MAP sensor

And just in case, get an upgraded head gaskets. Just in case.
 

Bad_Byte

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Check very carefully for leaks around the heads. Head gaskets were cheap and needed replacing on most cars and it's not a cheap repair. I would also suggest letting Dan Craigen go through it prior to purchase. He's the best on the west coast. I know from experience.
 

DJ'sviper

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Exactly. The head gaskets are a problem on the Gen 1. I bought mine and the individual had them exchanged for them. The majority were bad. My 93 Gen 1 has al the original pieces like the bra, cover for interior when it is a convertible, original soft top. Make sure when yo drive it that it is locked on the passenger side. Mine has a mind of its own and sometimes it comes lose. I have a hard top and a hard top that I purchased from auto form. I really like it. Can give the car a whole new look and you can look like your almost driving two different cars. The paint will peel on the side sills. They get very hot. I wrapped airplane heat bands around the exhaust when I put Belanger exhaust on. Put extra deadening and heat shields under the carpet and where heat could get in. Have all the original and stock tires, etc. Took off the tubes and replaced with smooth tubes. Can be put back easily to original but I like it the way it is. Can drive it as convertible, hard top or fast back like the photo. Have about 23,000 miles on it that comes to about 850 miles a year. Took it on a couple long trips and brought it back to Iowa from Michigan. So I probably didn't put more than 400 miles on it in a year or less. It is good to drive a car. Cars that set without driving usually have issues. Love the Gen 1 style.
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kssssnake

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My issues were all cooling related. New water pump. New hoses. New thermostat. No coolant, just water. Was a Florida car. Thank God I checked or it would have frozen the first Winter. I did it all myself. Thermostat was a giant PITA.
 

Bill W

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Tires will be hard as rocks and need to be replaced. All gaskets and hoses will be suspect on a car this old. That's just the basic easy stuff. Others will have more information for you.
 

kssssnake

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New tires last year $1600. ROE racing triple pass aluminum radiator, $700.
 

airsel

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I bought a low mile 93' viper last year and here is what i looked for and had to get done and I ran into zero problems so far on it.

1) Head Gasket - they were paper gaskets and need to be upgrade to MLS sets (the kit is about $700 and you are looking at $800-1000 in labor). It will have a coolant smell or you will see sweating or signs of it below heads. Its a matter of when it fails because they all do. Especially if you have shorter drives with multiple heat up and cool downs.

2) Make sure maintenance things have been done, like keeping things lubed and greased. My car needed this done as well as multiple hoses needing to be replaced for drying out or cracking. This was the biggest thing I had to deal with.

3) Fuel system cleaned, spark plugs, check the wires but they seem to be pretty solid overall in longevity.

4) The dreaded frame rail recall, these were labeled incorrectly from factory so they got installed backwards and makes it a pain to almost impossible to get the oil filter out.

5) The tires, i had to wait to get a set, i bought the last rear ones a few months ago from California. They might have just got more made at this point. Most owners with low mile cars always have the original tires on for some reason.

6) If you are getting the Gen 1 and it does not have the soft top or side windows included those parts are hard tocfind or will cost you quite a bit. Same with the hardtop or aftermarket side windows. So spend the little extra if it has those vs not because you will regret it later.

7) The cars are pretty bullet proof overall, but do you standard checks -horn, turn signals, lights, high beams, your typical stuff to make sure everything is functioning as it should.

Thats all I can think of at the moment, but the hoses are your biggest ones. I would thoroughly check those to make sure one of them doesn't gail on your drive home. The original owner spent a couple thousand to replace majority of hoses and service the fuel system. I had to replace the remaining hoses, so be ready.
 

nautoncall

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Exactly. The head gaskets are a problem on the Gen 1. I bought mine and the individual had them exchanged for them. The majority were bad. My 93 Gen 1 has al the original pieces like the bra, cover for interior when it is a convertible, original soft top. Make sure when yo drive it that it is locked on the passenger side. Mine has a mind of its own and sometimes it comes lose. I have a hard top and a hard top that I purchased from auto form. I really like it. Can give the car a whole new look and you can look like your almost driving two different cars. The paint will peel on the side sills. They get very hot. I wrapped airplane heat bands around the exhaust when I put Belanger exhaust on. Put extra deadening and heat shields under the carpet and where heat could get in. Have all the original and stock tires, etc. Took off the tubes and replaced with smooth tubes. Can be put back easily to original but I like it the way it is. Can drive it as convertible, hard top or fast back like the photo. Have about 23,000 miles on it that comes to about 850 miles a year. Took it on a couple long trips and brought it back to Iowa from Michigan. So I probably didn't put more than 400 miles on it in a year or less. It is good to drive a car. Cars that set without driving usually have issues. Love the Gen 1 style.
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i love that top. Which one is that?? Also which side windows do you have??
 

DJ'sviper

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Hi Nautoncall. I just saw your post. I got the top from auto form in Michigan. Great Guys and they have a lot of viper stuff and he if a creative and fascinating individual. He took me on a tour of the place. Well worth it. I love ithe top to. I also have the original, an aftermarket as well as soft top. Car has three different looks. The windows came with the top. I went through a terrible rain storm and it didn't leak. Right by the mirror is a little cut out on both sides. You can lock it or leave it open. I put extra thermal padding under the rug and it helped keep the heat down as well as a little quieter in the cabin. I have Belanger headers and open exhaust. It is really loud but not to bad inside. The photo is at the shop I where they made it.
 

Ed Atwell

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New tires last year $1600. ROE racing triple pass aluminum radiator, $700.
Hi guys,
I've been following the posts and have seen several regarding tires; some of these, I have tracked down, but they don't seem to have anything for a Gen 1 '94 RT/10 (17" wheels). These forums are such a wealth of information. Anybody with any suggestions? Thanks in advance!
 

Ronald kuehnle

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If tire rack does not have them contact Jon B at Viper parts rack His number is 360-837-3937 He is in Washougal,Wa. I just bought a complete set for my Gen 2 about 3 weeks ago. I talked to him on Friday and they were on my front porch by 2:00 Monday afternoon They were Pirelli P Zero and I paid around $1500 and this includes shipping to Texas. If you have any other questions he can pretty well answer what ever you ask. He has helped me out a lot. I also bought a Belanger exhaust system from at the same time. He just has about anything you would need .Good luck with the car. I have had mine for about a year and I would never get rid of it.
 

Ed Atwell

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Thanks Guys!!! Tire Rack does have tires in stock. Will check out the Pirellis as well.
 

Rod

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Hi all - I had a '94 for a few years back in the 2000's, I wanted to stay married and see my kids, so I sold it when the second child came. Now that I made the last college payment, I'm searching for another low mile Gen 1. As I read the posts on the site, it's clear there is a wealth of knowledge here and I appreciate the way everyone shares their problems as well as their triumphs. I'm looking at several cars that have under 5000 miles on them. I'd rather pay the premium for a clean low mile car which is still far below what the car stickered at. Can anyone tell me issues to look for when a car has low, low miles? Particularly with the drive train? I don't plan to put more than 2500 a year on it so I would like to know what's the SOP for Viper owners that want to keep the miles low. What are your maintenance procedures if you care to share. Thanks all. KC
 

Rod

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Greetings! I’m considering selling my 1994 RT/10 that I purchased new in Fenton, Michigan. (I now live in New Mexico.) It has 8,900 miles, participated in the 1st Viper Invitational, and did a few laps on the Michigan International Speedway.

It has never been raced; has 2nd Gen wheels (I have the original wheels & tires); has been garage-kept with carpet and no natural light.

Just wondering what it may be worth if I decide to sell. I appreciate your input.
 

DJ'sviper

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Hi Rod.
Lots of people will tell you why your car isn't worth as much because it doesn't have this or that of the newer models. Your car is worth as much as it is worth to you and how bad you need the money. The market has gone up to $40,000 for a car like yours. I think it is worth more. Mine is to me. When people see others getting more then they start agreeing with the worth, marketing. Where can you buy a car like yours with the horsepower, first generation (collectability), rarity, original, history and reputation for under $40,000. Besides being one of the coolest cars ever made with the help of an iconic (cobra) it was fashioned under with a man like Carrol Shelby. Yes, you could go buy another chevy corvette which are as common as parking lot gravel. There are less than 450 as 50% of them were wrecked by people who thought the knew how to drive a race car. So this is how I see my car as the original, not an improved version. Actually, every generation is a great car and they all have a great history and I love them all. Remember, this is the first and they are way under priced.
 
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Rod

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Thank you so much DJ’s Viper! I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts about the value of my baby. You are certainly both knowledgeable and articulate!

Since I’m not in a hurry and don’t need the money, I like the idea of something in the ballpark of $40k.

Keepin’ the rubber side down...

Rod
 

DJ'sviper

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Ask for $42,000 then and see what you get. Everyone likes a deal and if you go down he will feel good and you get what you are asking for.
 
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Tiaganon

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If interested, I have a '95 in yellow with only 3700 kilometers or just over 2200 miles on it! I am in Vancouver so it is a Canadian car hence the kilometers. It is an AC car. I have the hardtop for it. The soft top and side windows are still in the original bags. Clean Carfax, no accidents - just sits in my garage too much. New tires and battery in 2017. Everything works as it should. I have never tried to sell but my interest is leaning more towards a hotrod these days.
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ViperRed

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I just had all my radiator hoses replaced along with the sensors in the thermostat housing.

A car with such low mileage had all its hoses rotted.
Keep that in mind too.

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