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Story by Jack Baruth, photography by Matt Chow and Zerin Dube
Are you a shy person? Do you suffer from social anxiety? Are you uncomfortable with being the center of attention in public settings? If the answer to any of the above questions is “Yes”, then we respectfully suggest you avoid the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT-10 convertible, particularly in the eye-searing shade of blue applied to our test car. As a Viper owner, you will be permanently on the American road’s center stage, targeted by dropped jaws, pointed fingers, and comments ranging from the predictable “NIIIICE CARRRRR!” to the rather confusing statement delivered to us at a gas station by a fading flower of a middle-aged Texas woman in a Town Car -“We’re so proud of you.” Who was “we”, and of whom, exactly, were “they” proud, and why? Perhaps she’d spotted the manufacturer tag on the car and thought we were affiliated with the intrepid (no pun intended) folks at Chrysler’s SRT division, or she simply wanted to let us know how happy she was that we’d chosen an American sports car over the evil foreign competition, or she thought your humble author was a famous bearded celebrity – one of the Geico cavemen, perhaps, or even Michael McDonald, touring the country in a six-hundred-horsepower droptop while contemplating which Motown originals would be easiest to mangle into blandness for his next album. We’ll never know. Apparently, mere possession of America’s most cylinder-intense sporting car turns one into a public figure, with all the attendant positives and negatives. Learn from our experience and consider yourself warned. Driving a Viper is not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for the wallflowers among us.
If, however, you are a painfully modest or fearful individual who nonetheless feels compelled to own an SRT-10, there is one potential solution, assuming you have the bucks: buy an Audi R8 and hire somebody to drive it around behind you. In the Audi’s incandescent presence, the big blue Viper becomes well-nigh invisible, just another minnow in the school of freeway fish which clump and cluster in the R8’s wake, camera phones aloft and trembling at The Presence Of The Future Among Us.