Friday, January 2, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #62

I'll have a numerically appropriate car next week (and the savvy autophile probably knows what it is...). Today, though, not so much. I forget who it was, but one of my friends on Facebook was lamenting how utterly forgettable the cars from the 1990s were. The '50s had tailfins, the '60s were muscle cars, the '70s had both bloated land yachts and the rise of the Japanese autos, even the crappy 1980s had a few standouts.

But the '90s? Not so much. There were a few, though, like this one:

1992 Dodge Viper. 400 horsepower. 10 cylinders. 6-speed transmission. Roadster. The Viper was the sign that Chrysler was coming back from the brink. After languishing through the 1980s with a slew of utterly forgettable cars (K-car, anyone?), the 1990s didn't start off all that great for the Pentastar. The Plymouth Acclaim, Dodge Shadow, nothing Mopar was putting out was particularly noteworthy in the least.

And then, they rolled out the Viper.

It was an absolute throwback, a huge engine stuffed into a low-slung, two-seat roadster. Chrysler crushed it out of the park with the Viper, an all-American, in-your-face chunk of Detroit iron. While cars were melting into the generic gumdrop shape started by the Ford Taurus, with bland engines to match the sameness of style, the Viper went from concept to street in record time to bring a bit of the 1960s muscle forward 30 years.

Back to the future, indeed.

That is all.


Wolfman said...

I recall a Popular Mechanics article from somewhere around '95 titled 'Acceleration Nation'. It was a straight up shootout, twenty or so cars of all ages, from the US and Europe, including the hottest Ferraris and Lambo of the day, back through the Grand National and the 454 Heavy Chevy Chevelle of 1970, and beyond. The Viper smoked them all in the quarter. It was the meanest, angriest, most nearly undriveable car available. According to the test drivers, there was no point on a run that they could just drop the hammer, or that V-10 would tear loose and convert the run into $500 worth of tire smoke. Any gear, any speed. What a BEAST! Always been a fan...

Angus McThag said...

The main problem is the exhaust note sounds like a Kubota tractor at full throat.

Old NFO said...

LOL, gotta love the way Angus rained on the parade, but he IS right, that 10 cyl just sounds strange!

Anonymous said...

The problem with trying to find notable 90's cars, is that they're still so common on the road, it's hard to think of them as old.

Supra turbo
rx7 turbo
miata (1989 technically, but 1990 here)
McLaren F1 (a streetcar that won leMans outright)
Mercedes 500E (built by Porsche)

Then there are the cars that are awesome in any/every generation:


And that's just off the top of my head & without going in to the veritable renaissance that was happening in sportbikes/superbikes at the time... bikes went full on rocketship in the 90's.

Will said...

Hmmm, my memory of a Car&Driver article in the mid-90's was twenty of the hottest cars available then. It included the Euro factory hotrods. What absolutely smoked them all was the last generation of the Mazda Rx-7 twin turbo, '93-'96. Acceleration, braking, cornering, and possibly top end. They had it laid out in graph fashion, and the RX stood way out from the rest of the pack.

The editors conclusion was that the RX7 was a racecar that was street legal, and the others were streetcars that could run on the track. For those of you that haven't raced, that is a huge difference.

Had a friend with a '93. That thing was awesome on the street! Racecar with a license plate.

Unfortunately for Mazda, they had to upgrade the 93's to '94 engine standards due to problems, in addition to re-painting lots of them. Sales of the '96 were so bad that they stopped production. The main problem is that the market for two door sportscars pretty much vanished by then. IIRC, they sold less than 5000 that last year. That would have been great for an Italian car, but the Japanese made their money on volume sales. They don't do niche market very well.

There was someone in SF that swapped an aluminum 427ci big block into one of those cars. No idea how that turned out, though. Saw it on Craigslist last year, after seeing it in one of the car mags.

Stretch said...

Scene: Gas station in Bozeman, MT. just off I-90.
Two Vipers flank the gas pump island having their tanks filled.
Both drivers are laughing, giggling, snorting, and downright vibrating from their run on the interstate.
I've no idea how far or how fast they had gone but they were definitely having the time of their life.