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I Think the Original Dodge Viper Will be Worth a Lot Someday

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author photo by Doug DeMuro September 2018

The original Dodge Viper is one of the craziest modern cars, thanks to a wide range of unusual items that just seem out of place in, well, a modern car. Consider, for instance, that it doesn't have roll-up windows, but rather window coverings you have to clip into little tabs if you want protection from the elements. There's no real roof, but rather a crappy soft-top that doesn't really get the job done. There's no traction control, no stability control, no airbags, no anti-lock brakes. And, of course, there's the side-mounted exhaust that burns your legs every time you step outside the car.

It is, in short, highly compromised -- but also highly focused on delivering an old-school, muscle car experience, unchanged by modern safety concerns and regulatory issues. In short, the original Viper was a special car.

Over the years, the Viper got a bit less special: Dodge added windows and eventually an airbag; they made a hardtop, then a coupe version, and then they started putting in other safety stuff. Eventually, the side exhaust was covered, so it wouldn't really burn your leg when you got out. I don't want to say the Viper was neutered because it was still quite an amazing car right up until the very end -- but it certainly lost some of its unrefined charm.

And, for that reason, I think the original Viper is going to gain in value someday. Not every Viper, mind you, but a red one from the first few model years with the three-spoke wheels and none of the creature comforts you'll ever want in a vehicle. Early Viper models are currently shockingly cheap on Autotrader, with the average asking price for a 1992-1994 model, from the first three years, seemingly hovering around $30,000 to $40,000. To me, that's a bargain for what I consider an iconic car and for one of the most special vehicles made in the 1990s.

Admittedly, Dodge made a lot of early Viper models, which usually suggests values won't rise -- but given how cheap the Viper got and how dangerous it was, I suspect there are many fewer Viper models left than originally produced. I suspect that, coupled with the car's uniqueness compared to everything else on the road at the time, may eventually send the Viper into "unaffordable" territory.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
I Think the Original Dodge Viper Will be Worth a Lot Someday - Autotrader