Venomous Snake In A Concrete Jungle! But Wait, Isn’t It A Dodge? No!: Anthony and his 98′ CHRYSLER Viper GTS
It may sound like a big cliche, but Paris is a city that I love. It has fascinating architecture, part of which are the brutalist buildings of the 70s that many Parisians hate. The Viper is a car that I love since I was a child. I remember it being on the cover of one of my very first Motor Trend magazines, in movies, and music videos.
For the location of this shooting, I was looking for something that somehow resembled that Detroit concrete jungle vibe, to highlight one of its automotive icons: The Viper!
Interestingly enough, this one isn’t a dodge but a Chrysler! Antony will tell us all about it in the interview that follows:
Tell me about yourself?
I live in Paris, I’m Benzin co-founder and I have a thing for buying rusted cars even though I said I’d never do it again.
What was your first car?
My first car was the worst choice you could make for a first car: a Mazda RX-8. Loved the look, loved the way it drove, loved the fact that it was rare, and had that weird rotary engine. Too bad it was plagued by terrible fuel consumption and terrible reliability. The engine broke for no reason and I sold it 20k.km later after 4 years of ownership. I am still glad I owned it!
How did you get it and what condition was it in when you bought it?
I bought my Viper in 2 days. With less than 10 cars sold new in France (the rest being imports), Vipers don’t come to the market often and when they do, it never is the one I’m looking for. I wanted a pre-2000 GTS, either red or blue, not messed with the car. Believe me, that’s rare! So when the perfect example popped up in the classified, the next day I was at the seller’s place and left a check.
What do you love most about your car, any specific details you like?
The thing I love most is the same thing that disappointed me when I got the car: the sound! The European Viper comes with a terrible factory exhaust that makes it sound like a Dacia Sandero, so imagine my face when I took it for a drive the first time. I ordered a new exhaust the next day and a few weeks later, hell, what a change! At idle it grants you with a distinctive, irregular pop like a muscle car. Then it evolves to a deep, thunderous growl that is so cool hearing in the city or narrow streets. Then, high up in the revs it makes a race-car like the sound that you wouldn’t expect from such a high displacement engine. Did I mention the blasts at every gear change?
I guess a lot of people have asked you, “A Chrysler Viper? Really?
Can’t blame them! In video games, movies, and racing the Viper was under the Dodge brand. Very few people know that at the time, the Viper has been sold under the Chrysler brand in Europe because Dodge wasn’t officially distributed there, and they sold so few cars (200 outside the American continent) that everyone forgot about it!
The Viper, I think is one of the best examples of cars built in the 90s, I remember seeing it in many movies and music videos. Does any of this have anything to do with you having this car?
I have been obsessed with the Viper for as long as I can remember. I was 7 when the GTS came out, and I remember collecting all the pictures I could find in magazines, learning the spec sheet by heart, and drawing the « Sneaky Pete » logo everywhere on my school furniture. Games have played a big role too, from Gran Turismo (obviously) on PS1 to the ’99 « Viper Racing » PC game, Vipers were everywhere and I grew up driving them, virtually. You might also remember that TV show, simply called « Viper » that aired from ’96 to ’99, featuring a police detective driving a Viper that could transform into an armored vehicle to fight criminals in Metro City. The show was incredibly kitch but I was addicted to it! Congrats on the marketing Dodge, it worked!
Paris can be very chaotic in traffic, are you using the Viper as a daily or just for weekends?
Paris is the worst for car enthusiasts, but it is also why it is so much fun to drive something so unexpected here. You see people staring, not knowing if they’re dreaming or if there’s really a red, white striped, loud as hell Dodge Viper in front of them between two grey Peugeot 308. I try to use it as much as possible but I must confess that I do not daily drive it, fearing the random idiots could smash into the fragile, expensive, all fiber body. So I daily drive an EV Smart, being myself the aforementioned random idiot.
I remember meeting your Viper, in a Cars and Coffee in Paris back in 2017, but at that time the car didn’t have the white stripes, it was something you already had in mind to do?
A Viper without stripes? Really? I couldn’t imagine owning a Viper and not having the iconic stripes, so yeah, that’s one of the first things I did when I got the car with swapping the exhaust! The Viper never came out red with white stripes from the factory except for the 2002 « final edition ». But that later car is 2002, so it had the large spoke wheels that I don’t like and the later, non-forged engine that has a bit less character due to a tamer camshaft, so it was out of the question. And it is faster with the stripes, or so I believe.
How is the gas consumption, I think it’s a car that you enjoy a lot but it has its price of course.
Without surprise, that’s the number 1 question people ask. And guess what? It’s not that thirsty! But hey, you hear that from a guy who owned a Mazda RX-8. You can expect a very reasonable 12l/100km on the highway, but double that figure in the city. It feels like the autonomy of the Viper is more like a timer: whatever you do with it, the tank empties at a steady rate, so you’d rather drive fast!
I’m a big fan of your project Benzin, I have some T-shirts of your brand that I use frequently, I would like you to tell us more about this.
Thanks! Like most car enthusiasts, I was really fed up with the usual classifieds when you are selling or buying a car. So many times I took long drives to see a car only to be deceived by sellers not mentioning important stuff and them being delusional when asking for prices. Selling? Prepare to receive a ton of questions and ridiculous offers from people who have no intent to buy you anything. Benzin fixes all of that. We select cool cars and help sellers make an honest presentation of their car, helping them with pictures, writing the ad, and fixing a realistic price. Then the car goes up for 10 days online auction on the site, where only serious buyers make offers. In the end, the car is sold quickly, at a fair price and without friction: everyone wins! I couldn’t think of buying or selling my cars any other way now. But Benzin is not only online auctions, it’s a passion rooted brand and we also express it through high quality merchandising like apparel and accessories, all designed in-house by the professional Sneaky Pete logo drawer, me!
Do you have any car quotes you’d like to share?
A wise man once said: don’t be a dick. Not car-related per se but could be applied to the car world. We see every day so many people hating on other people’s cars (or else) and trying to prove to everybody they know better. You don’t, I don’t. Create, enjoy what’s offered, take every opportunity to learn new stuff, and when you want to open your mouth, make sure it won’t decrease the world’s average IQ. Cheers!
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