1998 Viper Prototype Snake Bite
A one-off 1998 Viper prototype would become the mule for the famous Viper Competition Coupes of the mid-2000’s. If you’re one of those “snake bit” Viper enthusiasts who wants to spend weekends at the Track Club events, this is your wildest dream come true. The original 1998 Viper prototype for the Viper Competition Coupe, from the collection of Father Viper himself, Roy Sjoberg, is now for sale in the Cars On Line Race Car Section. Just Toys Classic Cars of Orlando, Florida has this one-of-one 1998 Dodge Viper in GT3 trim in their showroom today. (Follow this link to review their ad and extensive photos of the Viper prototype.)
Viper fans will already know this car. Sjoberg, the Viper Program Chief Engineer of Chrysler Corportation, along with Steve Dryer from Autoform Development, were the two main forces behind Chrysler’s production of the Viper Competition Coupe series. They nurtured the idea of replacing the GTS IMSA racing Vipers in their development program. Later, Chrysler took the program back in-house to produce track ready Competition Coupes right from the factory. What is interesting about this car and its build is that Sjoberg used all Chrysler factory designed parts on this prototype. That makes it extremely strong and reliable. It was built for endurance as well as speed.
The entire body is comprised of ultra lightweight ALMS parts. Just Toys Classic Cars has a binder full of all the part numbers on this car so you can replace pieces down the road if you race it. The cage is SCCA and Grand Am Series legal with engine compartment bracing and triple driver side door bars. It has a heavy duty clutch, Brembo brakes, 3-piece alloy wheels, triple adjustable shocks, and tons of light weight parts.
If you are looking to get in to road course racing on a “budget” then this is the perfect vehicle for you. It would cost you $150,000 to build a Viper GT3, in addition to the cost of a doner car in the first place. It is turnkey ready and built to GT3 specs, with GTS-R equipment. Think about how cool it would be to pull up in Father Viper’s own GT3 at your local club racing day. Other Viper owners might ask for your autograph.
The 1998 Viper prototype has a blueprinted Viper 525 horsepower V-10 engine, built to endurance race specs with Belanger headers and 3-inch side exhaust. The reinforced body includes engine compartment bracing and triple side door bars. It has a heavy-duty Tilton clutch assembly, Brembo racing brakes and triple adjustable JRZ shocks. See photos of the race setup engine electronics with computer interface.
Just Toys Classic Cars tells us they have computer models and concept sketches from Father Viper and a complete history of the car. Included with the sale: CATIA Design Drawings, 3D Renderings, Concept Sketches, letters from IMSA to Mr. Sjoberg, a detailed list of car part numbers (suitable for manufacturing), and pictures of the car during the build.
This prototype disappeared off the market from 2002 to 2014 when it was sold to a private collector and stored in a climate controlled garage, but remained unused. In 2015 the car was completely checked out, fitted with new Hoosier rubber and tested at Homestead Miami Speedway. Today it is virtually race ready.
Under the lift off hood of this track beast sits the blueprinted V10 Viper engine producing 525 horsepower and built to Endurance Specs. The driveline has been upgraded to GTS-R specs in the motor, transmission, and differential with external coolers.
To buy one of the Competition Coupes, 2003-2007, you had to prove you were a race team owner, showing your license to compete in a sanctioned body. More than 150 Competition Coupes were produced. And here you have the Viper prototype that started it all.
Roy Sjoberg, Father Viper
You cannot follow the history of the Dodge Viper without telling the story of Roy Sjoberg, Chrysler’s Viper Program Chief Engineer. He brought the Viper into existence and guided Viper development under the watchful eye of such automotive luminaries as Carroll Shelby, Bob Lutz and CEO Lee Iacocca. He revolutionized the process of bringing a new design to market with unusual techniques of team design and using parts and materials procured in-house. A good example is the use of Lamborghini engineers to build the V-10 8.3L Viper engine. Lamborghini was owned by Chrysler at the time. Sjoberg brought the Viper to market with a budget of only $50 million at a time when the average cost designing a new model line was $200 million.
Sjoberg was the individual the Carroll Shelby tapped to design and build the very first Viper in 1989. Roy was the racers racer. He had this stuff in his blood all the way back to the 50’s when he pit crewed his brothers 356 Porsche at all of the major road courses across the country. Later he worked for Zora Arkus-Duntov on the development of the Corvette. He is the one who gave Sjoberg the nickname “Father Viper” which was a play on his own nickname “Father Corvette.”
The original prototypes for the Viper were fabricated in sheet metal by Metalcrafters. Boyd Coddington’s hot-rod operation built the chassis and suspension to Chrysler’s spec. The car appeared as a concept feature in 1989 as part of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Reaction at that show prompted Chrysler to give Sjoberg the job of bringing the Viper to production. When Sjoberg put out the word that he would be hiring a team literally over a hundred engineers showed up to interview for the job.
Carroll Shelby drove a prototype pre-production Viper RT/10 Roadster as the Pace Car for the 1991 Indianapolis 500 Championship Race. The Viper was first shipped to Dodge dealerships in 1992.