Yard Find: Dirty 1997 Dodge Viper GTS

I have been passionate about classic cars for as long as I can remember. It was a passion ignited by my father as he parked a succession of wonderful cars in our garage. However, there are only a few classics where I can place my hand on my heart and declare that I clearly remember the first time I laid eyes on them. The Dodge Viper was one of those vehicles, and those first photos are ones I will never forget. I thought that I appreciated what the company had created, but nothing prepared me for the sheer presence the Viper has in the flesh. It drips attitude, and that first contact was enough to make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. If you want to experience that feeling, there could be a chance for you to park this 1997 Viper GTS in your garage. The seller has listed it for sale here on Craigslist in Woodinville, Washington. If you hand the owner $22,000, you could take this brutal beast home. I must thank Barn Finder Jason for spotting this fantastic classic for us.

The seller has been this Viper’s custodian for many years, revealing that the vehicle was wrecked around fifteen years ago. The extent of that damage is unclear, but they elected to repair the car and return it to active duty. It has seen little use in the past two years and requires work to return to a roadworthy state. The photos suggest it has been sitting in its current location under a cover for a while, which is never a good strategy for preservation. The Viper Black paint shines surprisingly well, and the panels look good. Most of the panel gaps are tight and consistent, although I’m unsure about the relationship between the hood and front bumper. It may only require some tweaking and aligning, but with this car’s history, an in-person inspection would seem warranted. The cooling louvers are missing from the tops of both front fenders, but the rest of the exterior appears complete. The wheels aren’t original, but finding reconditioned factory items for around $300 each is not hard.

One aspect of this Viper requiring TLC is its interior. It looks dirty, so I would treat it to a deep clean before considering splashing any cash. The dash and console look pretty good, with the same true for the carpet. The carpet around the speaker in the driver’s door looks frayed, but some careful work with the right type of glue might consign that issue to the pages of history. The leather seat upholstery is badly worn, but with a set of replacement covers costing around $500, rectifying that issue will not likely break the bank. With that work complete, whipping this interior into shape may prove relatively affordable and highly satisfying.

The seller supplies no engine photos, but it appears this Viper’s drivetrain might be original and unmolested. While the exterior styling is extroverted, the engine is the Viper’s defining characteristic. The company initially considered slotting a V8 under that enormous hood but wanted something that stood the Viper apart from the crowd. This car’s engine bay features an 8.0-liter V10 monster backed by a six-speed manual transmission. The engine sounds promising, and it delivers on that promise. Churning out an impressive 450hp and 490 ft/lbs of torque, it launched this classic through the ¼ mile in 12.3 seconds before winding its way to 180mph. Those figures stack up well against modern offerings, so it is little wonder these cars commanded enormous respect when new. The seller states that after they addressed its prior accident damage, this Viper saw regular service. It has been sitting for the past two years and requires attention to be considered roadworthy. However, it runs and drives, which is a positive starting point for potential buyers.

I have led a fortunate life because I have had the privilege to drive and appreciate some fantastic classic cars. Unfortunately, the Dodge Viper GTS hasn’t made that list. It is a car that I aspire to drive because I suspect the experience would be unforgettable. The styling is menacing and head-turning, but its performance matches the appearance. You will struggle to find a good 1997 Viper GTS for under $65,000 while pristine ones continue to command six-figure sums. Our feature car is far from perfect, but it is probably one of the cheapest running and driving examples in the current market. Would you consider committing the time, effort, and cash to return it to its former glory? If you do and you need a chauffeur, I’m happy to volunteer!

Comments

  1. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Nice find, Jason, and fantastic memories and write-up, Adam! I always wonder about mice or other wire-chewing critters when a vehicle has been parked outside like that. I hate to think of what’s under that hood and why aren’t they showing arguably the most important part of this or any Viper: the engine? This would be a fun project for sure!

    Like 7
  2. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Whew, I’m glad that I saved the original ad, someone snapped it up already.
    (click on the pic to see it in full)

    Like 5
    • TCOPPS TCOPPS Member

      Little suggestion to the editors Scotty. Perhaps add an additional photo of the Craigslist listings or an archived link like the old days! Happy 4th!

      Like 1
  3. RoughDiamond Member

    Great write-up, Adam and good eye, Jason. Thank you Scotty! I truly wish all the Barn Find writers would take a page out of your playbook and always copy the original CL ads. So many times the vehicles are already sold like this one and we never get to read what the Seller stated in the original ad or see all the pictures shown. I am always left wondering how a high priced vehicle like this ends up left outside and neglected only to end up in this state of decline. That seemed like a bargain although I am betting the Buyer will end up with some unpleasant surprises. I would want to know specifically what the two accidents involved, were the repairs were made and who repaired them.

    Like 6
  4. Cadmanls Member

    Front end damage seems to have been an issue with many Viper’s. Seems the lack of driving aids and that big red engine gave a lot of average drivers a rough time.

    Like 9
  5. Greg

    Salvage history likely

    Like 1
  6. Cj

    Who does that to an exotic car?

    Like 8
    • Solosolo ken tilly UK Member

      The word MORON comes to mind.

      Like 4
  7. Ben

    My hybrid F150 has 430 HP. Engines have come a long way.

  8. Bob McK Member

    I have never seen one of these that was not in near perfect condition before. Guess someone really enjoyed this one. I wonder what it is worth.

    Like 3
  9. John Prill Member

    What’s up with the red wagon wheels ?? How sad to see a Viper trashed like this! It would be cool to see it if it gets restored to its former glory!

    Like 7
  10. Mike

    Gee, I wonder how these get in this condition? Probably wrecked, salvaged by someone on a budget, wrecked again and salvaged by someone who has even less money. How do they get wrecked? I think I have a guess…

    https://youtu.be/SIY8tkbsHe8?t=33

    Like 5
    • Squigly

      Man what an idiot. What was he doing, reaching for a donut on the seat? That guy looked old enough to know better. Just goes to prove that having money doesn’t equal ability or intelligence.

      Like 6
    • Solosolo ken tilly UK Member

      That stop light grand prix didn’t go well did it?

      Like 1
  11. gaspumpchas

    When these first came out I stood next to one that was idling. I could feel the ground shaking. Pure b#lls to the walls power. Could have some fun with it if you chose. Looker over good. good luck and happy motoring.
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 2
    • Squigly

      Too much power may be fun in the short run, but never practical, and often horribly unsafe. I prefer to drive my under powered cars fast. More of a challenge. Same goes for planes. I have piloted jets at supersonic speeds, but my simple Cessna provides me more joy.

      Like 3
      • Solosolo ken tilly UK Member

        My ’51 Buick Super gave me the same feeling. I’ve had the Porsches, Ferrari’s, and all the rest and even a ’64 Maserati Mistral but none of them gave me as much satisfaction than did that Buick. (Well, maybe the ’69 BMW Roundie did just as much.)

        Like 2
  12. Phipps

    Is a high possibility there is still meth in that car

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