The Viper: Quite a Lusty Little Brute

For American sports-car buffs, the past 30 years has been one long slide into the molasses of 55-m.p.h. speed limits, fuel-economy ratings and safety requirements. They lived on memories of cars like the Shelby Cobra, the Ford muscle car that put American hot rodders on the map in 1965 when it blew past Ferraris and Porsches to win the World Manufacturing Championship.

Next month, Chrysler takes a step back in time with the 400-h.p. Dodge Viper RT/10, a performance machine that has sports-car fans salivating even before the limited-edition coupe hits the streets (only 300 will be produced this year). The...

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