Due to the high capabilities of the Viper, a huge strain is put on the factory oiling system on road courses and at the strip. This can cause oil starvation and a spun rod bearing. Using modern rubber can increase this risk, especially for 1996-1999 Gen-2 Vipers which have arguably the worst oil pan of any generation of Viper. To combat this problem, we upgrade to the larger 10-quart oil pan and windage tray from the 2000-2002 Vipers and install RareFab/Roe Racing’s race-proven Oil Pan Baffle Kit.
All cars create blow-by and positive crank case pressure which pumps oil and vapors into the engine’s intake to be burned off for emissions. This problem is worse on forced induction cars and performance cars driven at the track. Not only does this oil gunk up the intake tract and valves, it reduces the octane of your fuel which robs power and causes detonation. We installed a Bob’s Air-Oil Separator to the PCV valve and a catch can for the valve cover vent to see how much oil our Viper’s engine was pumping into the intake after some street and track use.
From coolant to cabin temperatures, Vipers are notoriously hot due to having one of the largest engines ever stuffed inside a sportscar. To combat this problem we turn to the thermal insulation experts at HeatShield Products to keep the heat in the exhaust system to lower the temperature inside the cabin and side sills. Hopefully we will prevent our side sills from discoloring and burning our legs when getting in and out of the car without proper clothing and ingress/egress technique.
After some impressive gains from intake work in Part 4, we now turn our attention to the opposite side of the engine to improve the evacuation of exhaust gasses as well as reduce the cabin temperature of our notoriously hot viper. For as outlandish and attention grabbing the Viper’s style was, the exhaust note did not have the same head-turning appeal. To remedy this we reached out to our friends at Corsa Performance for their 3” cat-back exhaust to give our viper a more sporty and refined tone. To further boost the volume and greatly knock down the calf-burning side sill heat, we installed a pair of compact Kooks Green Cats which are both environmentally and power friendly.
The Viper is a “racecar for the street” in more ways than one; and like a racecar, it does not like to sit in stop and go traffic and can run hot and overheat without proper airflow on a hot summer day. To combat this we upgraded the radiator fan on our 1997 Viper GTS with the higher flowing, larger fan from the 1998-2002 cars. In addition, we safeguarded the potentially flawed wiring and relay box by running standalone relays with dedicated power and ground wires. To further extend the life of the relays we used a trick pair of “NOsparc®” spark suppressors in the harness.
The Viper is truly a car built around its engine. In Part 4, we take Project Viper GTS to the dyno for a baseline power audit and see if our mighty 8.0L V10 is cranking out the factory claimed 450hp and 490lb-ft of torque. From there we add K&N replacement air filters and change out the disruptive corrugated plastic intake tubing for a set of ROE Racing polished aluminum smooth intake tubes to see if we can squeeze out a few more ponies.
The Viper has a reputation for being difficult to drive and even (incorrectly) known as a bad handling car. Since the 2nd Generation Viper has not been reviewed by a magazine in close to 15 years, we took Project Viper to the track to dispel some myths and assess the car’s balance and handling ability.
Before thoroughly enjoying the purchase of a used performance car, it’s important for the enthusiast to go through some routine maintenance items. We prepare our 1997 Viper to be driven by changing the oil, coolant, spark plugs, wires, and go through a few miscellaneous items. We then install an aftermarket temperature gauge to monitor how hot the V10 operates and to test the accuracy of the factory gauge.
The Dodge Viper has been competitive on the world stage by doing it the American way: with big wheels, big brakes, big tires, a big engine, and not a lot of refinement. While it has always been a highly capable car on the track, used car prices have finally dropped to the point of being affordable by the masses and it has become a realistic option as a track day car. With this project we hope to clarify some of the stereotypes that surround the Viper and bring the truth to light on a very cool platform.