From poster car to real-life: buy old 8.0 liter Dodge Viper

From poster car to real-life: buy old 8.0 liter Dodge Viper

Mark is gone and has turned his teenage bedroom wall fantasy into a bright red reality

Internationally renowned photographer Mark has been working with TG for many, many years. If he doesn’t take pictures, he buys inappropriate cars. Here he shares his addiction with the world…

There is still a single poster in my old bedroom. A poster that was once surrounded by angry nu-metal bands and fold-out pages of Maximum force magazine that wouldn’t look out of place in a Woke museum right now.

But as music tastes changed, these posters were removed one by one. All but one; the very first poster I hung almost 30 years ago. And the one poster my late mother never had the heart to tear down.

You can clearly see where this is going. The crazy red car pictured above makes it clear, otherwise it would be weird if I suddenly said that poster was from The Undertaker. And while I’m not exactly sentimental about any car, the original Dodge (Chrysler) Viper RT/10 has been living in my head rent-free ever since.

It was the first car I chose for the first PS1 game I ever bought – The need for speed – in 1996. It was also the first car I remember seeing Clarkson reviews, and that meant it became the standard 1:18 scale model of choice for birthdays. “That’s the one you like, isn’t it?” Mom and Dad would say. They had actually bought a later Viper GTS, but even eight-year-old Mark knew he wasn’t so unreasonable.

Maybe it was the styling? I can’t think of many cars that look more like a Hot Wheels model straight from the factory. And in a world where a BMW M3 can now be fitted with quad-stacked exhausts, the Viper’s proportions are still downright comical. Then there’s the engine. His 8.0-liter V10 was guaranteed to be a Top Trumps winner before that phrase was associated with right-wing lunatics. By 2022 standards, hitting David Attenborough with a pangolin would be less offensive than launching a car with an 8.0-litre engine.

Whatever it was, the Viper was the first car that made me think, “Phwoar, these car things are okay… aren’t they?”. It had side exits, no roof and no traction control. It was widely reported as a full-blown fatal fall, and if you’re taller than six feet, your scalp became the roll bar. And you know what, the older I got, the cooler this all sounded.

The problem with Vipers is that they don’t go up for sale very often, and when they do, it’s usually with an overly American specialist who wears a Stetson at least on weekends.

Coincidentally I found this one Auto & Classic (complete with a half-arsed description and photos taken on an old
Nokia flip phone) and paid £40k for it.

You could argue that’s a lot for a truck engine with fiberglass wrapped around it, but with lunatics paying £25k for 205 GTIs it’s actually a bargain now. Or would be if we weren’t in a cost of living crisis.

But how can you be depressed with an 8.0-litre V10 in a car that looks like a Great Dane lipstick? I love how a single car can evoke so many memories. You can’t force that with targeted marketing – it just happens naturally and once it gets you, it’s impossible to shake off. In a world of ethically sourced vegan Dalston quinoa, the Viper remains a rump steak, cut fresh from a Route 66 prepared roadkill. It’s ridiculous in every way, which is exactly why I will never sell it.