When A Lot Isn’t Enough: 1994 Dodge Viper Hennessey Venom 500

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The Dodge Viper was a halo car produced starting in 1992. The brainchild of Bob Lutz, the first Viper’s main claim to fame was its viscerally powerful V10 engine capable of hurtling its owner to 160 mph very quickly indeed. Early Vipers are nearly devoid of creature comforts – no glass side windows or hard tops were available until 1996. Production lasted until 2017, albeit with occasional gaps attributed to Dodge pulling the plug on the model only to resurrect it a short time later. An important feature of the Viper’s progression was its ever-increasing horsepower – a feature that figures prominently in our story today. Here on craigslist is a 1994 Dodge Viper Venom 500, modified by John Hennessey. The asking price for this beast is $58,500 and the car is located in Edmonds, Washington. The car is represented by a dealer and can also be seen at Pantherroadclassics.com. Thanks to T.J. for this whomper of a tip!

John Hennessey – appropriately from the big state of Texas – has one goal: to build the fastest cars in the world. The Viper is a perfect palette for his efforts. This Viper received a motor upgrade that includes a high-compression cylinder head, enlarged throttle bodies, Hi Flow intake manifold, an induction kit, headers, and many other alterations to the factory configuration. The seller indicates that “the engine was inspected to ensure the upgrade had in fact been done”, since apparently, Mr. Hennessey is not forthcoming with paperwork. Notably, no performance data are listed in the ad, except for the seller’s indication that the Hennessey package boosted horsepower by about 35 ponies. Factory cars were rated at 410 hp and reached 60 mph in just over 4 seconds. A six-speed manual transmission complements the engine, and a limited-slip differential helps keep it all on the ground. This car has a new clutch, new radiator, new rear engine seals, and new mounts. A logical question is – on a car with only 12k miles, why was this necessary?

While Hennessey promised more power, his package cost a lot and resulted in an altered car. If you think your vehicle might someday be collectible, alterations can be bad. Unfortunately for Venom owners, Dodge itself boosted the production Viper’s engine output to 450 hp for the coupe at the end of 1996, then 500 hp in 2003, and so on, culminating in a monstrous 645 hp in 2015. Each of these increases – from the factory itself – devalues alterations of earlier cars. You will pay about the same for a stock 1994 Viper as this example costs. Oh yes – this example. Its underside is as clean as can be, along with the rest of the car. I could be critical of the black paint in this shot, but overall, a very nice car.

This car has air conditioning, two new tires, a custom hard top, its original soft top and side curtains, and many other niceties. That said, there are few frills in the cabin – it’s all business. Driving impressions emphasize that this is a noisy beast without a lot of “give” in the ride. Long distances can be exhausting. It’s telling that the market is saturated with low mileage examples. Speaking of low mileage examples, here is one that sold for $58k – nearly new, and with the Hennessey 550 package. If I had a yen for a Viper, I would prefer an unaltered later car; what do you think?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    Agreed, Michelle. For the money one could find a later stock model with about the same mileage, horsepower and more horsepower.
    As has been said a few times here previously, just because it’s unusual doesn’t make it rare and even if it is rare I it doesn’t necessarily make it any more desirable.
    But that doesn’t mean I would push it out of my driveway…

    Like 6
    • Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

      “..with about the same mileage, *condition* and more horsepower”…

      Like 1
    • Rw

      I think the Walmart steering wheel cover makes the look come together.

      Like 9
    • Raoul-F Raoul-F

      LOL…air filters for motorcycles…this engine gets choked all the time.

      Like 0
  2. RayT

    From my experience, I have to say that one thing no Viper ever suffered from was a lack of horsepower. Unless you pay strict attention to what your right foot is doing, you’ll get behind in your steering in a big way.

    I did once drive a Viper that had been given the twin-turbo treatment by one of the major tuners, who claimed the result was a thousand horsepower. I don’t doubt it. I recall it hazing the rear tires at 100 mph in sixth gear when I floored it. Which I did only briefly.

    I still am a major fan of the early Vipers. You don’t need a hardtop (no one wants to drive one in the wet!) or even rollup windows. If I were buying I’d want an early car. Bone-stock.

    Like 6
  3. Howie

    This would be a blast to drive, posted 13 days ago.

    Like 1
  4. Stan

    Seems a good valu to me. 🏁 rocket 🚀 ship right here and that V10 sounds fantastic 👌

    Like 1
  5. James Quinn

    So do current mustangs with more power, better hadling hurt Shelby Mustangs values?

    Like 1
    • Scrapyard John

      Yes, I’d say current Mustangs having more power and better handling does hurt the value of previous special version Mustangs that are 5,10,20 years old. Classic Shelby’s or other Mustangs from the muscle car era, not so much.

      Similar with the Viper. The more potent version is probably more desirable. But, doesn’t hurt the value of a classic Mopar.

      Kind of apples and oranges, the value of classics vs new compared to a few years old with similar body style vs new with more power and better handling.

      My opinion only.

      Like 3
      • FrankDMember

        Absolutely correct! Plus it a personal choice, Newer vs. Older vs. Finances.

        Like 0
  6. Mike

    Well that is about a waste! Go to Hennessy and come out with only 35 hp more! I call BS

    Like 0
  7. Jim Paidice

    I remember back in the day when Hennessey was working on Vipers, he would take parts from one car and put them on another, and hold the cars for months and months while doing so, a real Ponzi scheme. Google for more info. But Americans have a short memory so he’s still in business :(

    Like 1

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