The Serpent Triad: Comparing Three Viper Generations
It's been a while since I've done a Viper article. So here's another that should seem familiar to some of you. Yes, I am doing another Viper-dimensions article. However, we're doing something different. Instead of comparing the Viper to other cars, I'm comparing the Viper against its former selves. The Gen 2 and 4 versions of itself to be exact (and the Gen 5 depending on your perspective).
And no, there aren't only three Viper generations. There are five. Outside of the Gen 1, we're just covering the three major generations in this article: 2, 4, and 5. Lastly, I'm talking about the coupe versions of all the incarnations that were just mentioned. With the guidelines set, let's get into it!
Gen 2 length: 176.7 inches (or 4,488 mm) long.
Gen 4 length: 175.6 inches (or 4,460 mm) long.
Gen 5 length: 175.7 inches (or 4,462 mm) long.
Despite what everyone says about older cars being smaller and lighter, this doesn't hold true for the Viper... apparently. Both the Gen 4 and 5 are shorter than their 90s self. How? I have absolutely no idea. Interestingly (but perhaps not surprisingly), the Gen 5 is just a tiny bit longer than the Gen 4. I suspect the rear overhang on the 5 has something to do with that.
Gen 2 Wheelbase: 96.2 inches (or 2,443 mm) long.
Gen 4 Wheelbase: 98.8 inches (or 2,509 mm) long.
Gen 5 Wheelbase: 98.8 inches (or 2.509 mm) long.
Some won't be surprised by this and I'm certainly not. Despite the Gen 2 being longer overall, it actually has the shorter wheelbase. By a good 2.6 inches no less. That's not to say the Gen 4 and 5 don't have short wheelbases. Of course they do! Especially when you consider that an Audi TT's wheelbase is only .2 inches shorter (98.6 inches). Yet both generations of Viper have RWD and much more horsepower (and torque).
Gen 2 width: 75.7 inches (or 1,922 mm) wide.
Gen 4 width: 75.2 inches (or 1,910 mm) wide.
Gen 5 width: 76.4 inches (or 1,940 mm) wide.
Are you looking at the Gen 2 and 4 numbers? You should be! How, in the name of all that's holy, is the Gen 2 wider than the Gen 4!? That's a plot twist if I've ever seen one.
The Gen 5 numbers are also weird. It's not surprising that the former latest incarnation is wider than it's previous iterations. What's weird is how MUCH wider it is than it's Gen 4 self.
Gen 2 height: 47 inches (or 1,193 mm) tall.
Gen 4 height: 48.6 inches (or 1,234 mm) tall.
Gen 5 height: 49.1 inches (or 1,247 mm) tall.
Just so no one gets confused: Dodge made the double-bubble roof more prominent on the Gen 5. Which, obviously, results in its overall height increasing a bit.
Normally, I'd be talking about weight at this point in the article. However, I've been seeing information that is in conflict with what I thought was true. In short: Gen 2s and 4s seem to be very similar depending on whom you look at. These are the Gen 2 numbers from MotorTrend and Edmunds. And these are the Gen 4 numbers from MotorTrend and Edmunds.
The evidence doesn't stop there though. This post on the Viper Owner Association forum shows that a Gen 2 Viper does weigh about 3,400 pounds. Even though that specific Gen 2 does have an exhaust mod, the stock exhaust would probably be heavier. Which begs the question: How heavy is the stock exhaust?
Depending on the weight, it would put said Gen 2 JUST into the 3,500-pound mark. Which is what Car and Driver say a Gen 1 RT/10 roadster weighs. Keep in mind that Dodge did reduce the weight of the Viper when making the Gen 2. So if the Car and Driver numbers are accurate, it's very possible the Gen 2 does actually weigh under 3,500 pounds. For now though, let's just say that Gen 2 and 4s are pretty close, and Gen 5s are definitely lighter than both.
What did we learn? Well, the Gen 2 is the longest Viper generation, the Gen 4 and 5 have the same wheelbase, the Gen 5 is the widest Viper generation, the Gen 5 is the tallest Viper generation, and it's the lightest. Which means the Gen 4 is sort of the middle child. Except for in length and width, where it was the shortest and narrowest of the three Viper generations. Never in a million years would I have thought that. As the old saying goes: You learn something new every day.
… especially if you prove your own assumptions wrong inadvertently.