One bite of an asp did in Cleopatra. Similarly, a turn behind the wheel of today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Viper may be enough for you to be bitten by its power, but will its price do it in?

Not done-in maybe, but genuinely done to the nines, was yesterday's 300-pony VW GTI. Despite having some seemingly legit creds, it was deemed to be too rice-rice-baby for most of your tastes, and came away with a narrow 55% Crack Pipe loss. Better luck next time, VW Vortexans.

That GTI's biggest claim to fame was the additional 100+ ponies that were crammed under its hood. Sadly, as was pointed out by more than a few of you, all those horses were sent through the wrong set of tires, and hence were of little value. Today we have a candidate for your cogitation that comes equipped with over 500 horsepower, and unlike that Vee-dub, these ponies get out and push.

When the Viper hit the American performance car market it was like Dodge went and took a big-ol' hairy dump on the hood of Chevy's Corvette. With more cylinders and more horsepower than the Vette, and a mien that was unapologetically and purposefully raw, the Viper made it clear that the Chevy's days as America's top sports car were numbered. The battle has raged ever since between the bow tie brigade and the ram band for bragging rights, and while many say there are no winners in war, in this case it's been the car buyers that have been the beneficiaries in this clash as both cars have become better for it.

The mercenaries in the conflict have been the outside tuners who are able to make horsepower and handling appear, as if by magic. Of course it's not magic but money that makes aftermarket monster makers like Hennessey (and yes, even though it's spelled differently, I still get a hankering for some cognac every time I write that) do such wonderful stuff. And money - plenty of it- is what went into today's 1997 Hennessey Venom 500 Viper GTS. Starting with a stock Viper GTS, all 450-bhp and enough torque to smoke the tires like they were Maui Wowie, the GTS took the initial Viper concept and turned down the rabies just enough to make it rewarding to drive at less than 11/10ths. But for Hennessey that wasn't enough - typical Texans - and so this Viper comes with the Venom 500 mods. That means 500 horsepower as well as venom, which I think is kept in the glovebox. The Hennessey changes include special 3-inch pipes from the cats back, and sewer-sized headers in front of those same cats. The cats however remain constant. What doesn't is the ignition mapping, which is altered to help boost the horsepower, and the rear-end which gets a massive arch in a tribute to St. Louis or something. All that drops the zero to sixty time from a faster than 90% of everything out there 4.0 seconds, to a tarmac folding, spindling and mutilating 3.6 seconds. Hammna, hammna, hammna!

Other than that, it's pretty much pure GTS- 8.0-litres of aluminum pushrod V10, six speed Tremec T56 and a curvaceous body- posters of which displaced the Countach as the prime teen bedroom wall artwork. The GTS has numerous changes from the initial RT10 and is a better car in every way. Sure, the closed coupe bodywork eliminates the wind in your hair/bugs in your teeth aspect of the roadster, but who cares? When you're struggling with throttle steering, trying to keep the car from sending you sideways into a propane refinery, you'll be thankful for the loss of that distraction.


Inside, this car is pure Viper, which means acres of plastic and enough parts sourced from the mundane cloud cars of the time that you'll get homesick for your last Avis rental. That being said, Vipers are like Burt Reynolds in the aging department - meaning they don't do it gracefully - and this one looks like it's dodged that bullet for the moment. Outside, along with the aforementioned wing and sex on wheels double bubble body, is a set of facory 17-inch wheels in a douchy shade of gold. It's a distraction from the rest of the car, but at least they do go with the trim on the car and aren't chrome, as chrome tends to kick the douche up a notch.

There's no mention of mileage in the ad, other than to say "Exempt." That's pretty much WTF? and of course if the thing had a million miles on it that would seriously affect the value. It's unlikely it does though because, just like Burt, the more miles a Viper puts on, the more unwound it gets. Things like seat bolsters (perfect here) go south fast, and with road use the headlight covers glaze quicker than a cheerleader in Geometry class. The covers on this Viper, however, are crystal clear.

So overall, it looks from the pictures like it just left the Hennessey shop, sliding sideways in a cloud of tire smoke and driver joy. And if it had, the price tag would have cleared six digits. But time wounds all heels and the bounty of Vipers on the market has kept prices on all of them relatively low. This '97 Hennessey-modded GTS has an asking price of $39,900 - a benjamin shy of forty grand. That's a lot of bank, but it's important to step back for a minute and consider what you'd be buying, and what the alternatives might be. For that same forty large you could get a number of other cars that would nearly match the. . . oh for heaven's sake eff that, it's a Hennessey Viper for crying out loud, the alternatives all have afterburners and live on aircraft carriers. If you don't want this, you're mom probably still packs your lunch and irons your tightie whities for you. Gimme your lunch money!


But that's just one opinion, and now it's time to share yours. Do you think that $39,900 is a price that would get you to feel this Viper's bite? Or, at that price, would you tell the seller to go kiss your asp?

You decide!

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