My Amazing Gen 5 Viper Adventure!

Nine Ball

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My Amazing Gen 5 Viper Adventure

When the 5G Viper was unveiled live, I knew at that very moment what desire for a vehicle felt like. I’d seen many other cool cars, but nothing grabbed me like that day when Ralph Giles showed up on the stage with a Stryker Red 2013 Viper. I began plotting my purchase a few minutes after that showing.

I placed my order and deposit on November 12 with Bernie Katz at Tomball Dodge. At the time, they were predicting the first cars would show up before March. I was willing to wait, plus I have a 2006 Viper to keep me occupied already. I really wanted the car before the Hotrod Magazine Power Tour, which wasn’t until June 1st. This would be my 9th “Long-Haul” Power Tour Trip, and I’ve done it in a different vehicle each year.

Fast forward through all the reported delays, and checking the vehicle online tracking site (VOTS) a couple times per day, hoping to get a glimpse of some sort of progress on the build of my Viper. Talk about anxiety, as June quickly approached. My deadline for the event was near, all of a sudden.

Then, it happened, I saw my car go into “D1” Scheduled for Production Status. Then it sat in that phase for over a month. Here is how the rest of the updates played out:

Frame Status began 5/3
Trim Status began 5/7
Final Inspection began 5/16
Shipment 5/21

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With the event less than 10 days away, I didn’t want to wait all this time just to get held up by possible delays related to a truck transport. So, I made special arrangements through my dealership and Conner Avenue Assembly Plant (CAAP) to take possession of the Viper at the factory in Detroit. My plan was to fly up to Detroit, pick the Viper up, and drive it almost 1,500 miles back to Houston, TX.

And, that is just what I did this past Memorial Day weekend!

My adventure began on a rainy Thursday morning at CAAP, and I brought a local Detroit friend with me to check the factory out. We were greeted by Jen, and introduced to Graham and Doug. We watched some nice videos about the new Viper, learned the shop safety rules, and then stepped out into the arena of magic
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I’ve toured quite a few vehicle manufacturing plants in my life, just recently I’ve been at Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Corvette plants, so I do have a little expectation of what I’d see. One thing that set this Viper plant apart was all the historic Vipers parked inside the plant, as if they were keeping an eye on the younger generations being built. You could feel a great sense of pride among the employees, who were happy to waive and answer any questions. We were allowed to take photos to share with you, so we took a LOT of them. We walked the assembly line, getting a good look at each station and what was done. It was exciting to see so many Vipers in all of their colors and trim configurations, as I’d only seen the Launch Edition and Red Track package cars in person before that. The CAAP plant was spotless, even the tool carts and floor had a new coat of paint on them. Endless walls of Viper photos, posters, and American flags were present. Good stuff.

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Eventually the tour ended up along a row of historic Vipers, and one car under a hidden drape. What a cool presentation! My friend Ken and I got the cameras ready, while Doug and Graham pulled that drape off of my white SRT track pack. It was the first white Viper I’d seen in person, and I knew in an instant that I had made the right color choice. I must have stared at the car a good 5 minutes, from every angle, before Graham reminded me that I could approach it and sit in the car. Awesome. I will never forget this day. Thanks to everyone at CAAP and Tomball Dodge, for making that dream come true!

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With a little education on all the fancy electronics behind my belt, I hit the road to go grab some grub in Detroit with a couple buddies. It was a car-themed restaurant, called Vinsetta Garage, located on the historic hodrodder cruise street, Woodward Avenue. I gave the guys some rides up and down Woodward, and we took some nice rolling photos and such. The car commands instant rockstar status, even on hallowed hotrod ground.

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I set the navigation for Dayton, OH and got my first leg of the trip in a deluge. The entire time, I wondered if the Pirelli Track Pack tires would be safe in the rain. The answer is yes! Never hydroplaned once, and I grew more confident as the odometer rolled up.

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Continued Below...
 
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Nine Ball

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Friday morning, I decided to drop by Forgeline Wheels and visit their manufacturing facility. I’m a distributor for Forgeline, through my wheel business Deviate Motoring (www.DV8motoring.com), and I knew these guys were waiting to get some measurements for wheel fitments. David and Mark gave me a tour of the plant, and we took some brake and offset measurements. Even test-fitted a few different wheels on the car. Hung out a bit, then hit the highway again.

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It was a beautiful day of weather on Friday, with mostly open highways. Onwards through Nashville, and then finally to Memphis, TN. I really enjoy stopping in Memphis, because of Beale Street. Arguably the best live music street around, if you like Jazz, Blues, or Country. I parked the Viper in a secure lot, fighting off some eager valets, then enjoyed some adult beverages and music for the Friday night.

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I drove through Kentucky, and took a rest stop at a popular automotive landmark in Bowling Green – The National Corvette Museum. I knew my GM buddies would get a laugh at some photos of my Viper in front of the Corvette Mecca. I took a tour, bought a souvenir, and did a quick photo-shoot out front. I got some interesting looks from a few people visiting while wearing their Corvette apparel. The guy riding the golf cart on the property also had a confused look on his face. These pics are priceless though, and add to the memory!

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After my visit with the competition, I set the navigation for Houston, TX with a path through Arkansas and Texarkana. Another nice day of weather, and I had enough miles on the car to open it up a few times on those 75 mph speed zones in Texas. The car is flat out impressive! While my other Viper is around 1,100 horsepower at the wheels and a bit nuts, this new Viper still feels very fast for a stock vehicle.

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Finally made it back home on Saturday evening, just in time for dinner. The odometer e-rolled 1,450 miles upon arrival. I averaged 17.5 mpg for the whole trip, cruising mostly 80-85 mph. The car averages 20 mpg when cruising 70-75. Pretty impressive for a 640hp rated V10.

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Oh, and that Hotrod Power Tour? I leave for that tomorrow! Should be another 2,500 miles added in a week…. To be continued.

I liked the white Viper so much, that I went out on Monday and bought a matching Dodge Ram Sport.

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Now, about the vehicle. I’ll do some comparisons with my Gen 3 car, as well as some observations in general. When you have 22 hrs to sit in the driver’s seat, you learn a lot about a car.

The 5G drives very similar to the 3G (and likely more like the 4G). The pedals are identical, in the identical position. The shifter is more precise, even than the TR6060 that I swapped into my 3G. There is no play in the shifter. I did notice that the shifter gate pattern is wider than before, meaning the shift gate positions are spread out. You’ll have to move your hand over a little more to upshift, compared to the previous gens. Took me a while to grow conscious about that, as I had 3G on the mind and I got really good at slamming the gate between 2-3 and 4-5 if I shifted fast. Gotta move the hand over a tiny bit more, then all good. The steering feels similar, but the new wheel is more comfortable and larger in terms of the grip diameter. The car is still just as responsive as ever, the only car I know of that you’d be a daredevil to try and eat or text while driving in. The car cannot be driven with your knees, it is too eager to find and track any grooves or surface imperfections in the road. Just like any racecar should! The clutch is softer/smoother than the stock 3G. Being a dual-disk, it is lighter and the aluminum flywheel revs smoothly. Pedal travel feels identical to 4G. Brakes feel identical to my 3G. Looks like the same calipers, in fact. No problem, I love the stock Viper brakes. The 355 wide track pack Pirelli tires have loads of grip, even from a slow roll. They are even quiet on the highway. Might be the first Pirelli tire that I actually like.

One thing that I do love on the 5G is the interior enhancements made. No open fields of plastic like the previous gens. The door panels are completely covered with stitched material now. The new gauges are fantastic, I really like the digital tach and it is very accurate. Never noticed it lagging or doing anything weird, it acts just like an analog tach does. Those of you that ordered the nav package will love it. I always pack my portable Garmin for trips, but I didn’t need it on this car. The nav worked flawless to get me where I wanted to go. I really like the option to get to the “City Center” when asked for a destination. So, you can just type in the city and state and it will get you there. No need for street address. This will come in handy for Power Tour. The Bluetooth function is also sweet, it lets you know when a text comes in on your phone, and will read the text message to you in the nav voice. The nav voice is a woman’s voice, and I didn’t find her annoying any time during my trip. If you have an ipod, the head unit and steering wheel controls can function it. Very nice system! I only got the base 9-speaker setup, and it still sounded good to me. Better than the 3G/4G stereos. I can only imagine what the top shelf speaker option sounds like, but that just adds weight and I prefer going fast. The rearview camera option is a must, in my opinion. Every Viper should have this, it makes that awkward “here goes nothing” event of backing up so much less stressful. No more hanging out the window to back up, or having the wife get out and watch for distance.

The new Sabelt seats were ordered with the black leather. Overall, I’m pleased with them and the adjustability included. You can jack them up and down now, to adjust height. They go back further than the 3G seats, giving taller drivers more leg room. I’m 5-11, so I fit in all Vipers perfectly anyways. The seats are firm, but did soften up a little with the added miles. Initially, the back support of the seat wanted to concentrate on my mid-upper back, not leaving as much support on my lower back. I messed with the angle and height and found a reasonable position. Eventually that cushion softened up during the drive home. Seat width on the bolsters would be snug for most guys with wider than a 38 waist. I’m a 34 and the seats felt perfect for me. The adjustable pedals work just like before. The roofline and proximity to my head feel very similar to the 3G. The interior feels a little roomier than the 3G, because the dash is placed further away from the passengers. Sort of opens it up on the front. The car no longer has the glove box, just a storage net like the 2G. My cupholders (Grand Touring Package) were a nice added feature for the road trip. There is a little bin at the back of the console that works well to hold a cell phone…and a handgun. The A/C system in this car is no joke! Even without window tint, in 80+F temps outside, the unit would freeze me out. I usually had it set at 70F on bi-level with the fan turned all the way down. No complaints about the A/C. The interior lights are all bright LED lights, a nice touch and they work well. The trunk has them, too. The parking brake handle only goes up about an inch total, much less travel than the previous gens. I mean, it barely goes up and it works.

Working around the body, the rear hatch has a release switch. If you push it, the hatch doesn’t open all the way. It has a safety latch built in. So, you have to be slightly lifting up on the hatch at the same time as you push the button. Then it opens right up. The raw carbon underside is awesome! Nice touch, SRT. The hood release is on the driver’s side rear fender vent opening. You’ll be amazed the first time you lift that hood, and feel how light it is. Again, the entire underside is exposed carbon fiber. Killer. The engine bay looks more like a racecar than a street car. I’m not a fan of the engine cover, but I understand why they added it. It is to eliminate radio interference with all the new technology inside the car. No biggie, the car looks better with the hood shut anyways. The front grille is a satin black finish, I have come to love the look personally. The new headlights look very modern and expensive in person. The tail lights with the reptile scales are a sweet detail. All of the body vents are reptile scale patterned. Getting in and out of the Viper is identical to the 3G/4G, sort of a controlled fall into the seat. Exact same doorsills as the previous 2 gens. Gas filler door is opened by a hidden button in the map pocket of the driver’s door. The car has no gas cap, it has one of those fancy new inserts that you just stick the fuel nozzle into. It actually fills up better than my 3G, doesn’t pop the nozzle to off before being full. I like that.

The ride quality of the car is stiff, but nothing horrible. I expect a performance car to ride on the stiff side. Body roll? What is that? I’ve not seen it on this car. It is so flat around corners, feels very stiff and tight compared to my 3G coupe. The suspension isn’t as jarring as the 3G was stock. It lets you know about every bump in the road, but doesn’t bounce or slam you like my 3G did. The interior seems quieter and less wind and road noise than before. I could actually daily drive this car, whereas I wouldn’t have even considered daily driving the 3G.

Any questions? Ask away!

Tony :omg:
 
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Viper808

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Congrats..what an awesome trip....and what a thrill to pick-up your car at the factory....makes it extra special....I know you'll enjoy the power tour now....perfect timing:2tu:
 

swexlin

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Great writeup. Nice to see someone not afraid of mile, or rain! As an owner of a 2003, I appreciate your comparisons to a 3G. Oh, and the white color. Every time I've think I've seen the hottest color on a Viper, you see one you like better. Although, ANY color looks great. As a truck guy, like your new Ram as well. Your a lucky man to be able to drop the coin on those two machines.
 

TrackAire

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Favorite color choice and with no stripe!! :2tu:

Enjoy it, that is an epic looking car.

In the picture of the motor on the stand, does it appear that the PCV valve is now at the top and center of the valve cover on the passenger side?

Cheers,
George
 

AbsolutHank

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Awesome info Tony! Very through analysis and I'm particularly interested in the Gen III comparisons.

I thought you were doing red interior...any reason for the change?
 

SilveRT8

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Fantastic ! Great report !
Your report has answered many concerns that had not been touched before : Track pack tires OK in heavy rain, good shifter feel, enough room for most to fit, seat firmness that softens with miles, good A/C and Nav, location of some switches and release buttons, base SRT being quieter with less road noise than before, could qualify for a daily driver.
Up to now I've been very patient, but now I cant wait for my white GTS/ Track pack/ Sepia/ 18 speakers to be built.
Enjoy the Power tour !
 

Policy Limits

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well done. admirable as well as I am way too lazy to drive mine home from the factory. very cool way to break her in though. epic story. congratulations & enjoy.
 
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Nine Ball

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First question that popped into my head...keeping the gen 3?

Definitely. It was my first love, and it satisfies the speed fix. Over 1,000 at the wheels is too fun to give up. Here she is, as you can see it is a bit more racecar-ish.

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In the picture of the motor on the stand, does it appear that the PCV valve is now at the top and center of the valve cover on the passenger side?

Appears so, that is the black hose coming out and headed towards the front of the intake. Here is another view:

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I thought you were doing red interior...any reason for the change?

Had it been a GTS, I'd have done red interior. On the SRT, just the seats are red, the rest of the interior is black. On the GTS, it gets the nice 2-tone red/black dash and door accents, too. It looks a bit odd with just the seats being red, I saw one in the plant.
 

slysnake

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Damn IT!!! I've been resisting it for a long time....... Now... I WANT ONE!!! Congratulations to you on your beautiful new car.

In the mean time, Wouldn't that "Home of the Viper" sign be cool to have for a garage! I wonder if you can buy one anywhere?
 

johniew398

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Damn IT!!! I've been resisting it for a long time....... Now... I WANT ONE!!! Congratulations to you on your beautiful new car.

In the mean time, Wouldn't that "Home of the Viper" sign be cool to have for a garage! I wonder if you can buy one anywhere?

My exact question/thought when I saw it in the picture.

Nine Ball: Thanks for the excellent write up, photos and observations. I almost am wondering if I should be waiting around for the ACR version; but, ....I will at least for now.
 

Ray W

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I like the black calipers on your Gen V. Was it part of an order package? Would really like to have black on my black car instead of red.
 

PilotaX

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What a great story, pics and details about the car! Have fun this weekend!
 

MoparMan

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I like the black calipers on your Gen V. Was it part of an order package? Would really like to have black on my black car instead of red.

Me too, but I believe the GTS comes with red calipers only and the SRT black calipers only. Dunno if they're interchangeable.
 

ringram

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Nice writeup Tony,

How does it like the twisties? Does it handle better than the earlier gens?

Did you "test" the traction/stability control?

Does it recover nicely while allowing some sideways slip?

Would you ever want to turn it totally off other than if drifting?
 

PDCjonny

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Once in a life time experience what an amazing adventure.
Good luck with it!
 
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Nine Ball

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Nice writeup Tony,

How does it like the twisties? Does it handle better than the earlier gens?

Did you "test" the traction/stability control?

Does it recover nicely while allowing some sideways slip?

Would you ever want to turn it totally off other than if drifting?

I never had any complaints about handling in my 3G, this car feels very similar. I could tell the chassis was more rigid, but the overall feel was similar. I left the traction/stability on for most of the trip, and never noticed it interfere. Tried some test runs once I got home and couldn't tell much difference on/off. I haven't pushed it yet, or tried to get sideways yet, however. I have also not tried out the launch control feature. I wanted to make sure the car was fully functional for my week long road trip that starts today ;)

Tony
 

SRTviper

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Wait you could drive with pirelli p zero corsa tires in the rain????? I thought those were like almost R-Compound tires like the michelin cups and the Boss 302 tires and were a big no no in the rain.
 
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ViperSmith

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great pics, we had ordered virtually the exact same car. glad to see you are racking up miles. that is what you are meant to do in these cars!
 

BigDawg

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Great story and a great write up! Congrats on your purchase. It's also good to hear there is more space between the chest and dashboard. That is the #1 contributing factor to my claustrophobia...it feels like your chest is on the dash.
 

viperbilliam

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Thanks for the great thread, Tony. I see you are my size. So the seats were comfortable enough for the long drive. I had the opportunity to sit in one of these during an out of town Memorial trip. Thought the interior was pretty dam rich. No stripes? That's the only thing missing from your new Viper! Still looks fantastic.
 

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