“Bad welds,” he says. “Too easy to not wrap around a telephone pole,” he says. This is the last, most extreme version of the Dodge Viper we’re talking about here! Somebody shut this geezer up and make him show some respect!
Jonathan Ward’s probably one of the most respected pseudo-celebrity “car guys” right now and if he reads this, I hope he knows I’m just busting his chops. But I’m not kidding about his disdain for the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR! As you can see in this clip, he’s pretty disappointed with what he finds under the chassis and behind the driver’s seat.
From what we can see, the build quality does seem to be a bit of a letdown. But it’s hard for me to imagine anything putting 645 horsepower out of an 8.4-liter V10 engine and down to damn near slick tires being as milquetoast as he’s making it sound here.
Ward is probably best known as the proprietor of Icon 4x4, a sweet little restomod outfit based on the outskirts of Los Angeles. They turn clapped-out truck husks into $200,000 dream machines and do a fine job of it.
The name of the game at Icon is attention to detail. Take the body off one of Ward’s trucks and the skeleton will be just as beautiful as the refinished exterior– even the wiring for the blinkers is laid down evenly, cleanly and deliberately. It’s enough to make a half-assing duct taper like myself sick.
Anyway, here Alex Roy of The Drive seems to have gotten his hands on a Viper press loaner and brought it to Ward’s shop to get the man’s opinion on the vehicle Roy simply describes as “a really powerful, analog, expensive, American supercar.”
Indeed, the ACR has a hand-built engine, adjustable suspension, 15-inch disc brake and a wing you could land a plane on. Or... fly with.
But underneath, the welds and running gear aren’t exactly as confidence-inspiring. Actually Ward’s assessment is basically: “birdshit.”
On the road, he’s not crazy about the noise or functional traction control. “It’s not a Viper if it’s not just barely in control,” he muses. His point, other than the poor build quality he complains about under the car, is that the original Viper was the real Viper, and this “last” model is a flaccid shadow of its former ferocious self.
I don’t know. I’ve never driven any Viper but the thing still looks mean and I have no doubt I’d still be able to scare the skin off myself with this “lame” $120,000 rendition.
Anyway the car seemed to be good enough to get pro driver Andy Lally excited, who’s loudest recommendation after lapping it at VIR was “BUY THE SIX POINT SEATBELT UPGRADE.”
I am going to miss the Viper. It’s not the kind of car I would buy, or be able to drive without feeling crippling embarassment, but I’ve loved it ever since I had that white-on-blue GTS die cast on my dresser. Or at least, the idea of it. Even if it is a little rough around the edges. Maybe especially so. Here’s hoping this isn’t it’s last farewell tour.