Something’s shifted in my brain about first-generation Dodge Vipers. For decades, they felt like cheap caricature cars, with big dumb 8.0-liter V10 engines that weighed 700 pounds and made 50 horsepower per liter. Just a lot of “oh shit, that’s due tomorrow” energy. But when I saw one pull up to the Car Bibles Rad Pad up at Radwood, I fell in love with the first-gen Viper for the first time. 

  • Car: 1992 Dodge Viper R/T 10
  • Location: San Mateo, CA
  • Photog: Chris Rosales (IG + Twit @Chrishasacamera)
  • Camera: iPhone 11 Pro Max

Admittedly, it was in the dead of night after I had a slight fiasco getting to Radwood at all. The short story is that I drove about 500 miles and eight hours to cover a distance of 350 miles to the Bay Area, thanks to my reliable car breaking. I was in a tired daze when the Viper appeared, street parked, and my God it looked so good

This old Viper was actually Turo’d by a friend who took it to Radwood the next day, so I got to explore the gloriously jank character of the car for a good while and even hop into it. When Bob Lutz said, “we should build the modern Cobra” he was not screwing around. This thing is so old school that the hood release is in the front grill. My favorite bit was the car had exterior door handles; you open it from inside or jump in like you’re running from the cops.

Once you navigate the door opening experience, hopping inside is hilarious. The interior quality is comically bad, the pedals are way off to the left, and the car has giant Focal speakers in the center and in the doors. What did surprise me was how nice the interior night lighting is. It is the correct red/amber color, and the Viper even adds a nice little ambient light that splashes down from the rearview mirror.

It makes me wanna blast some Daft Punk and drive through downtown LA at 2 a.m. What a cool car.

As big as we could get it:

A First-Gen Dodge Viper’s Interior Is Surprisingly Pleasant at Night