When two grown men have to strap you into a six-point harness while you look on like a dumbfounded toddler, you know things are about to get serious.
The Dodge Viper ACR is an awe-inspiring, absolutely menacing machine, built specifically for the track. It’s been that way for over a decade. But now more so than ever, it’s a serious contender in the growing world of high-end hypercars for the track—and proved that in a very direct, scary way.
Full disclosure: it’s one of the most intimidating vehicles I’ve ever stepped foot in—and I wasn’t even driving. A small part of me was happy I wasn’t. Because on a soggy afternoon at Summit Raceway in West Virginia, things did indeed get very serious in a very menacing car.
With one of SRT’s pro drivers behind the wheel, the Viper ACR took to the track and unleashed all 640 horsepower from under the hood. Somewhere near 1,200 pounds of downforce shoved the car into to the pavement—at top speed, though, Dodge estimates it will get nearly a ton.
The massive rear wing kept the rear end from kicking out too far around sharper corners. The the weight of 1.5 g felt like it was about to rip me out of the seat. At that moment, I was very happy to be strapped into that six-point harness. That six-point harness is new for the 2016 version, as the older harness just wouldn’t hold people in tight enough, go figure.
As described by the driver, the grip was something of legend. Maybe a little biased, but at speeds of well over 100 mph, you could feel the ACR sticking every corner, only letting loose incrementally as the tires (and the track) became more water-logged. Those super-sticky tires being Kumho Ecsta V720s, designed specifically for this vehicle.
Leaving each apex in its wake, the 8.4-liter V10 was instant and precise. Dodge actually didn’t do much to the already impressive V10 under the hood. That 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque carries over from the standard Viper, and paired with nearly a ton of downforce, new tires, and a tighter suspension, it made an already raw supercar even more so. Even the same short-shifting manual gearbox carried over—the way nature intended.
The tweaked suspension was tuned specifically for the track. It featured 10-setting, double-adjustable, coil-over Bilisten shocks, and a set of carbon ceramic Brembo brakes that ensure this snake stops just as fast as it goes.
The ACR starts at $117,895. That is more than the Corvette Z06, which starts at under $80, but is less than the $130,00 Porsche 911 GT3. The V10 has always made the Viper more of an exclusive car than the Corvette, and when compared to the Porsche, it is a pretty solid deal.
This car is about as raw as raw can get. Yet somehow, Dodge managed to keep it completely street-legal. So that means you can drive to the track, consume anything that comes in your path, and drive home like nothing happened. The Viper ACR remains a thing of legend. Except it’s really real—and really scary.
Photo Credit: Jeff Perez for BoldRide